For six and a half innings, the Nokomis High School baseball team was on the cusp of upsetting fourth-seeded Meridian and making their seventh straight trip to a regional championship game. Then, as quickly as they took the lead, they saw it escape them as the Hawks put together a five-run seventh inning to walk off with an 8-7 win and a berth in Monday’s title game.
The first two innings went quickly, with a pair of Meridian singles the only two hits in the opening frames, but Nokomis caught fire in the top of the third when they scored three runs to break up the dueling shutouts by the Redskins’ Matthew Ulrici and Meridian’s Mitch Ripple.
Ryan Eisenbarth opened the inning with a double, with Hunter Broers reaching on an infield single in the next at-bat. Gavin Lipe loaded the bases with another single and Benny Clavin would drive in Eisenbarth with a liner to left field. Broers would also come around to score on the play when the Meridian left fielder committed an error, which allowed Lipe and Clavin to move up a base as well.
Brenton Lyons put the finishing touches on the inning with a single to right that scored Lipe and made it 3-0. Clavin would try to score on Lyons’ hit as well, but was thrown out.
Nokomis made it 4-0 after Ulrici singled, Eisenbarth reached on an error and Broers singled to score Ulrici, but the Hawks trimmed the lead down to one with two runs in the fourth and one run in the fifth.
The Redskins threatened again in the sixth, loading the bases after Bertolino doubled, Ulrici singled and Broers was hit by a pitch, but Ripple would settle down and get the final two outs to end the inning.
The Hawks starter wouldn’t be as fortunate in the seventh as Elijah Aumann and Brenton Lyons both singled, followed by an error off a bunt by Landon Engelman that loaded the bases. With no outs, Cooper Bertolino singled to center field, which allowed Aumann and Lyons to score after an error by the Hawks’ outfield. Matthew Ulrici drove in Ulrici with a ground out to first for the third run of the inning as Nokomis now led 7-3 going into the final half inning.
Benny Clavin would come on in relief of Austin Thornton after Thornton threw a scoreless sixth inning in relief of Ulrici, but the senior pitcher would run into trouble early. Ripple and Austin Clark both doubled, followed by a triple by Roy Ralston that cut the Nokomis lead to 7-5.
After a walk to Alexander Boehm, Ralson stole home to make it a one-run game. Clavin’s day would come to an end a batter later when Dylan Daughtery singled home Boehm and tied the game at 7-7.
Thornton would come back on to pitch for the Redskins and gave up a walk to Wyatt Latham, but struck out the next batter for the first out of the inning. Unfortunately the outs stopped there as an error off the bat of Dillon Patterson and a single by Lucas Clapp pushed across the winning run and moved Meridian to Monday’s regional championship game against Greenfield-Northwestern.
The Redskins outhit the Hawks 13-10, with Elijah Aumann, Brenton Lyons, Cooper Bertolino, Matthew Ulrici and Hunter Broers all picking up two hits each. All five of those players, along with several other pieces to the puzzle will be back next year for Nokomis, who went 6-12 in Coach Donovan Riley’s first year.
June 4 at Macon
Nokomis 003 100 3 7 13 3
Meridian 000 210 5 8 10 5
Nokomis IP R ER H K BB
Ulrici 5 3 1 5 7 3
Thornton 1.1 0 0 1 2 3
Clavin 0 5 4 4 0 1
Meridian IP R ER H K BB
Ripple 6 7 3 13 4 0
Patterson 1 0 0 0 1 0
*Ripple 1 HBP
Multiple Hits: Nokomis - Hunter Broers 2-3, Matthew Ulrici 2-4, Cooper Bertolino 2-4, Brenton Lyons 2-4, Elijah Aumann 2-4; Meridian - Mitch Ripple 2-3, Lucas Clapp 2-4. 2B: Nokomis - Elijah Aumann 1, Cooper Bertolino 1, Ryan Eisenbarth 1; Meridian - Mitch Ripple 1, Austin Clark 1. 3B: Meridian - Roy Ralston 1.
Record: Nokomis (6-12); Meridian (7-10).