State Runners-Up:

Norris wins first three games of tourney, loses final two

By Cody Nagel, The Voice News - May 25, 2017

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Photos by Cody Nagel, The Voice News

The Norris baseball team gathers around in the Haymarket Park concourse area as team manager Jacob Zinnecker holds onto the second-place trophy following Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Omaha Skutt in 12 innings.


LINCOLN – With multiple games being postponed or delayed due to inclement weather throughout the week, it seemed fitting when the rain began to fall in the extra innings of the Class B championship baseball game between Norris and Omaha Skutt last Friday.

When all was said and done, the Titans (24-5) finished the tournament with a second-place finish after falling 6-3 to Skutt in 12 innings.


“Our team goal is to always compete for a state championship, but like I said all along, I couldn’t be more proud of the way they battled through the entire tournament,” Norris head coach Sean Bartholomew said. “It was kind of a long grind of a tournament and they did really well.”


The Titans have made four championship games in the last six years, but have won just one.


Bartholomew said he told his players after the game to use this as motivation for next year.


“It’s one of the worst feelings you can have on the field is watching someone else dog-pile,” Bartholomew said.


In the championship, the Titans got on the board in the first inning after a double from Drew Reetz scored Austin Schultz, who had a lead-off triple.


Norris held a 1-0 lead until the Skyhawks tied the game in the fifth inning.


Titans starting pitcher Zach Argo walked JD Daro of Skutt before Drew Perry advanced Daro to third with a single.


Another walk by Argo loaded the bases with just one out. Connor Fenton hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Daro from third. Argo struck out the next batter to prevent any further damage. In the next three and a half innings, Norris and Skutt combined for just three hits and two walks.


Still tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth inning, Skutt loaded the bases with just one out. A single from Ethan Hall scored two, giving the Skyhawks a 3-1 lead.


Norris came through in the bottom half of the inning, tying the game at 3-3.


After Schultz reached on an error by Skutt, Norris put two more on with two walks. A single by Caden Kohout scored Schultz and a sacrifice fly from Jesse Brown scored Logan McDonald. Cade Argo hit into a fielders choice to end the inning and strand Will Reetz at third.


The Titans and Skyhawks continued to battle it out in a classic championship game, all the way into the 12th inning.


Norris pitcher Tyler Ruhl walked a batter then hit the next to put runners on first and second with just one out. A double from Skutt’s Daro scored one run, making it 4-3.

The Skyhawks scored two more after a sacrifice fly and a single.


The Titans went three up and three down in the bottom of the inning as the Skyhawks dog-piled near the mound in celebration.


Bartholomew said he expects his team to be in contention for a state championship again next year.


“I think we started one senior in that final game there,” Bartholomew said. “So we bring back quite a good core group of guys. The biggest thing is we’re going to have to find some more pitching depth. We graduate a lot of good pitchers.”


Norris 9, Omaha Skutt 8

Norris beat Skutt two days prior in Game 11 on Wednesday.


Game 11, which at the time paired the final two undefeated teams in the bracket – Norris and sixth-seeded Omaha Skutt – was finally played late Wednesday evening after being postponed on Tuesday and delayed because of more thunderstorms in the morning.

The Titans topped the Skyhawks 9-8 in eight innings. It was just past midnight when the game concluded.


Down 8-5 entering the sixth inning, Norris flipped the momentum of the game as its bats got warm and the bullpen stopped the bleeding.


Norris relief pitcher Ethan Krueger entered the game at the start of the sixth inning. He pitched three scoreless innings, allowed just two hits, a walk and struck out four.


Before Krueger’s entry, Skutt scored at least one run in each of the first five innings.

While Krueger was dealing, the Titans chipped away at Skutt’s lead.


In the Norris half of the sixth inning, Garrison Gustin swung on the first pitch and reached on an infield single. Schultz also swung on the first pitch and reached on an error by Skutt third basem=an Drew Perry.


Drew Reetz wasted no time driving in the runs with a two-RBI double to left to make the score 8-7. The Titans stranded  Reetz at third as the next three batters popped up or struck out.


Krueger went 1-2-3 in the bottom half for Norris.


Cade Argo started the Norris rally in the top of the seventh with a one-out double.

However, with the Titans down to their last out in the top of the seventh inning, Gustin singled to left, scoring pinch runner Logan McDonald from second to tie the game 8-8.

The Skyhawks could not score in the bottom half despite having runners on second and third with one out, sending the game to extras.


Norris opened the eighth inning with a single, sacrifice bunt and another single to put runners on first and second.


After Skutt pitcher Hunter Schwartzkopf struck out Kohout, the Titans, again, had their backs against the wall with two outs.


Brown, who was 0-4 prior to the at-bat, came through with a single to center scoring Drew Reetz from second.


The Titans led 9-8.


Krueger prevented any action in the bottom half, holding the Skyhawks to one single and giving Norris an automatic birth into a championship game, but not before playing another game due to Lincoln Pius X, Gretna and Omaha Skutt all having just one loss.


Lincoln Pius X 5, Norris 1

Because the Nebraska State Athletic Association state baseball tournament is double elimination, Norris was forced to play against the second seed Pius X, who had lost once against Skutt Catholic last Monday.


Game 12 between Norris and Pius X was played at Hawks Field in Haymarket Park Thursday afternoon.


Facing elimination, the Thunderbolts cooled the Titans hot bats and advanced in the losers bracket with a 5-1 victory.


Norris, who had already clinched a spot in the championship, would enter the game with one loss, rather than having the advantage of zero.


Brown of Norris and pitcher Tyler Crouse of Pius X breezed through the first three and a half innings, allowing just four hits combined. Crouse recorded five strikeouts during that span.


The Titans only run of the game came in the bottom of the fourth inning. After a lead-off double from Drew Reetz and a sacrifice bunt from Sayre Burnley, Crouse threw a wild pitch allowing Reetz to score from third.


The Thunderbolts finally got to Norris pitcher Brown in the fifth inning. Brown hit two batters with just one out and allowed a double between the two to load the bases.


Pius X’s Derek Kolbush took advantage and singled to left, scoring two, and giving the Thunder Bolts a 2-1 lead.


Brown allowed an infield single that scored another run before the Titans went to the bullpen.


Schultz threw a wild pitch that scored the Thunderbolts’ fourth run of the inning before getting a ground out to end the inning.


Norris had just one single the rest of the game. Pius X added another insurance run in the seventh.


Pius X pitcher Crouse pitched a complete game, allowing just three hits, one run and struck out eight on 84 pitches against the Titans.






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