ROGERS CITY - Add another regional title to the short and successful history of Norway baseball.
For the second time in the six-year history of the program, Norway has won a MHSAA Division 4 baseball regional championship, defeating Rudyard 5-3 in Saturday's final. Earlier in the day, the Knights rolled Indian River Inland Lakes 4-1.
Both of Norway's regional titles have come in Rogers City. The Knights were playing in a third straight regional title game, coming up short in the previous two.
Norway High School’s baseball team is headed to a state quarterfinal game after defeating Rudyard in a Division 4 regional championship game Saturday. The Knights, front row from left, John Edwardsen, Garrett Bonetti, Jake Rehn, Taylor Bonetti, Kevin Evosevich, Dane VanDenHeuvel, Bryce Grayvold. Back row: Coach Tony Adams, Coach Ron Faull, Caleb Tinkey, Justin Bal, Mike Faull, Nick Pearman, Bryce Plante, Alex Carlson, Austin Grayvold, Jorden Neumann, Coach Mike Maule, Cody Carlson.
"After losing two regional finals in a row, it was really nice to see the kids get this one," Norway manager Tony Adams said.
Norway (13-8) now faces Maple City Glen Lake in a state quarterfinal Tuesday at Traverse City West at 2 p.m. (Central). Maple City Glen Lakes, carrying a NCAA Division 1 pitching recruit on its roster, advanced through its region with a 4-1 semifinal win over Frankfort and a 4-1 championship victory against Bellaire. The Lakers were a state semifinalist last season, knocking out Atlanta in the quarterfinals. Norway lost to Atlanta in a regional title game last season.
"Maple City is a highly regarded team and ranked very high in the state," Adams said. "They have a quality program with very good players, especially on the mound. We are looking forward to the challenge. This is why you play the game. I am looking forward to seeing our kids play against some of the best in the state."
In Saturday's regional final against Rudyard, the Knights struck for two first-inning runs and led 3-0 after three innings.
Taylor Bonetti and Bryce Grayvold hit RBI singles in the first, while Cody Carlson drove in Austin Grayvold in the third with a sacrifice fly. Grayvold had led off the third with a double and advanced to third on a single by Mike Faull.
Rudyard tallied two runs in the fourth to close with one at 3-2, one run coming across on an error, but the Knights answered with two in the bottom half of the frame. Faull drove in Garrett Bonetti with a single.
"Our kids answered the bell after Rudyard closed the game to 3-2," Adams said. "It is what we have been doing throughout the tournament so far."
Faull collected the mound win, going all seven innings and surrendering just three hits. He walked two and struck out four, charged with only two earned runs.
"Faull pitched a heck of a game for us," Adams said.
Brady VanSloten took the loss for the Bulldogs.
John Edwardsen finished the game 2-for-4 for Norway. Carlson was 2-for-2 with his RBI.
"Rudyard is a good team that is well coached and never gives up," Adams said. "They play the game the right way. Our defense was pretty good and Austin Grayvold was a vacuum at second base."
A four-run second inning gave the Knights and John Edwardsen all they would need in the semifinal win over Indian River Inland Lakes.
Carlson and Austin Grayvold came through with RBI hits in the frame. A sacrifice bunt by Jorden Neumann led to a run by Dane VanDenHeuvel.
From there it was all Edwardsen, as Indian Lakes did not get a runner past second after the third inning.
"John Edwardsen really settled in nicely on the mound and we played pretty good defense behind him," Adams said. "Inland Lakes has a gritty team with a good pitcher so it was nice to see us have multiple opportunities to score."
Austin Grayvold went 1-for-4 with his RBI, and Carlson was 1-for-2 with a RBI.
"Our offense perked up and Cody Carlson has really been a big boost in the tournament," Adams noted. "It seems like all he does is drive in runs. Our two pitchers gave up seven hits and only walked three batters in 14 innings of regional baseball which is outstanding."
IR Inland Lakes 001 000 0 - 1
Norway 040 000 0 - 4
Rudyard000 201 0 - 3
Norway201 200 X - 5