One-run playoff losses end NCTC baseball season

by Scott DCamp
Sports Editor
A pair of one-run losses in an NJCAA Region 13 play-in series at Ridgewater on Friday, May 12 ended the 2017 Northland baseball season. 
“We got off on the right foot but things just weren't meant to be,” said Head Coach Barry Dowers. “We were feeling pretty good about our chances going into this best out of three series with Ridgewater having swept them the week before and having our top pitchers throwing for us.”
Henry Pesch, who had not given up more than four runs in a game all year was on the mound for game one and allowed only two runs through 6 innings. 
Blake Fetting got the Northland offense started with a two-run home run in the top of the first. 
The Pioneers added a pair of runs in the second inning and an insurance run in the top of the seventh that gave Northland a 5-2 lead with the Warriors down to their final three outs. 
“A four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh left us a bit stunned,” Dowers said. “We had a chance to escape the inning with a tie but with bases loaded and the infield in we got the ground ball we needed. Kade Nelson made a nice play getting the force at the home but the throw from our catcher back to Kade to complete the double play glanced off the shoulder of the runner and into right field allowing the winning run to score.”
Game two was a pitchers nightmare, as the teams combined to use seven pitchers that gave up a combined 21 earned runs. 
Matt Howell got the start for Northland and battled into the fourth but he didnt have his best stuff. Offensively Fetting got the Pioneer bats started on the right foot with another first inning two-run home run. The game was tied through six innings, but a three-run top of the seventh by Ridgewater ended up being more than the Pioneers could handle. A two-run Kade Nelson home run in the bottom of the seventh pulled to within a run but the Pioneers couldnt finish the comeback.
“This was a very young team and we had a lot of growing pains,” Dowers said. “We will be returning our top four hitters in Blake Fetting .400 BA with 12 doubles, four home runs and 24 RBIs; Brock Saparto .341 batting average, with nine doubles, three home runs and 29 RBIs; Carlos Turpo .312 BA with 10 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 24 RBIs and 16 stolen bases; and Eddie Lefrooth .304 BA with four doubles, one home run and 21 RBIs. We also return Kade Nelson who really came into his own as the season progressed hitting .324 with 8 RBIs and some outstanding defense over the last 15 games. On the mound we only lose two pitchers.
“We graduate Josh Arriaga who hit .304 with one double, 13 RBIs, put up a 2.5 ERA with 2 wins and 2 loses over 28 innings; Matt Howell who was our team leader in wins over the last two years; Lucas Sandsmark who put up a 4.04 ERA over 15 innings and Drew Chesley who played 34 games for us at second and hit .265 with 1 double and 11 RBIs.
“There are a lot of things to look forward to with next years team. I am very excited to see these freshman as they mature into sophomores.”
Game 1
                                              r  h  e
Northland…………. 220 000 1 –  5  6  3
Ridgewater………. 100 100 4 –  6  5  5
Pitching – (NCTC) Henry Pesch 6 IP, 4 hits, 5 runs, 4 earned runs, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts; Blake Fetting – L, 1 hit, 1 run, 0 earned runs, 1 walk; (RW) Lanter 6.1 IP, 5 hits, 5 runs, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 1 home run allowed; Blain – W, 0.2 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 1 strikeout. 
Offensive highlights – (NCTC) Josh Arriaga 2/4, run scored, RBI; Blake Fetting 3/4, home run, double, run scored, 3 RBIs; Gregory Diaz 1/1, run scored; (RW) Smith 2/4, double, 2 runs scored; Morales 1/3, double, run scored, RBI. 
Game 2
                                                 r  h  e
Ridgewater………130 301 3 – 11 14 1
Northland………..340 100 2 – 10 10 3 
Pitching – (RW) Cirino 0.2 IP, 3 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, home run allowed; Blain 0.2 IP, 2 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout; Genao 0.2 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout; Villegas – W, 4.1 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, home run allowed; Nelson – S, 0.2 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned runs; (NCTC) Matt Howell 3.2 IP, 11 hits, 7 runs, 7 earned runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts; Joe Berberena 3.1 IP, 3 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts. 
Offensive highlights – (RW) Cruz 5/5, 3 runs scored, 3 RBIs; Olson 2/4, run scored, 2 RBIs; (NCTC) Josh Arriaga 3/3, 3 runs, RBI; Kade Nelson 1/2, home run, 2 runs scored, 2 RBIs; Blake Fetting 1/2, home run, 2 runs scored, 2 RBIs; Carlos Turpo 2/4, double, run scored, 2 RBIs; Eddie Lefrooth 3/4, run scored, RBI.