An inability to close out innings doomed Northmor in a 9-5 sectional loss at home to Amanda-Clearcreek on Thursday.
Of the nine runs the Aces scored on the evening, eight of them came with two outs in various innings. The only run scored by the visitors before two out had been recorded was their very first one, as they opened the game by drawing and walk and then hitting a pair of singles to take a 1-0 lead with runners on the corners before the first out of the game had been recorded.
Northmor would get out of that inning with no further damage done, thanks in big part to the team recording a pair of outs on an attempt by the Aces to steal second. The Knights got one out on that attempt and then fired the ball home to nab the runner on third, who was trying to score while the first play was being made.
However, Northmor struggled offensively in the early going, as they went down in order in each of the first three frames. Meanwhile, Amanda-Clearcreek scored once in the second and three times in the fourth to jump out to a 5-0 advantage.
“We haven’t played since last Friday,” said Northmor coach Russ Montgomery. “I think we were rusty at the bat and they had some timely hitting. That was just one of those games.”
The Knights would battle back, though. In the fourth inning, with one out, Aly Blunk and Lydia Farley hit back-to-back singles. After a passed ball by the Aces moved the runners to second and third, a single by Karlee Carroll drove in Blunk to make the score 5-1.
Amanda-Clearcreek would get out of the inning with no further harm done, but Northmor struck again in the fifth. Mikayla Briggs opened the inning with a double and then was driven in on a one-out double by Cheyenne Shelton. An infield hit by Cristiana Boggs led to runners being on second and third and Blunk would then drive both in with a single, making the score 5-4.
Montgomery noted that after struggling early on, his team adjusted its approach at the plate.
“We moved up in the batters’ box after that (the first time through the line-up) and that’s when we started making better contact,” he said.
Unfortunately for the Knights, they would not be able to maintain their momentum. In the top of the sixth, the Aces led off with a pair of singles. Northmor pitcher Shelbey Lilly retired the next two batters, but after giving up an intentional walk to load the bases, she surrendered a three-run double to put Northmor behind by four again.
Amanda-Clearcreek added a run in the top of the seventh to go in front 9-4. In the bottom of the inning, the Knights scored a run on a grounder by Boggs, but with runners on second and third and no one out, they were unable to add to their total, as the Aces retired three consecutive batters to end the game.
After concluding the game with a 14-8 record, the Knights will have to move on without a large senior class who logged a large number of varsity games over their high school careers.
“They’re a real good group and have a lot of heart,” said Montgomery of his seniors. “We’ll have to have some JV players step up and fill spots next year.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS