The Northwestern High School baseball team clinched its third Heart O’ North Conference title in school history with a sweep of the Cumberland Beavers Thursday, May 16 in Iron River.
The Tigers (14-4 overall, 12-2 HON), still may have to share the title with the Spooner Rails, who are 10-2 in the HON and play Barron twice on Friday, May 17. The Golden Bears are 0-12 in league play.
After winning the opener 8-2, the Tigers completed their sweep in exciting fashion as they rallied from a 9-4 deficit to win 13-9.
The Tigers took the lead with a six-run sixth inning with four of the runs coming with four of their runs coming with two outs.
Northwestern loaded the bases on a singles by Brennan Werner, Kole Paulsen and Dylan Ronchi. After Jake Brill was hit by a pitch to score Werner, three more runs scored on an error off the bat of Nolan Gustafson. The rally ended with RBI singles by Justin Sedin and Werner.
The Tigers added three more runs in the seventh inning on Paulson's RBI single and Brill's two-run double.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these kids with the grit they showed to come back and win,” NHS coach Jovin Kroll said. “Most every team I have been a part of would have given up, but these guys got the job done, and I couldn’t be happier for them.
“Baseball titles at our school are very rare. This is a great group that accomplished something that they should be exceptionally proud of.”
Some of the baseball players were also members of the football and basketball teams, which also won HON titles.
“That is a special feat,” Kroll said.
Andrew Klobucher picked up the win in relief of Bryson Mazur. The two allowed 14 hits with five strikeouts and eight walks.
The Tigers finished with 17 hits. Ronchi was 3-for-3; Brill doubled, singled and had three RBIs; Sedin doubled, singled and knocked in three runs; Gustafson doubled, singled and knocked in two runs; Carson Holsclaw had two hits and an RBI; Werner had a hit and two RBIs; Paulson had two hits; Dayne Evanson tripled; and Mazur and David Wakefield singled.
Brill was the complete-game winner in the opener, allowing eight hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
He also helped his own cause with a pair of hits, including an RBI single.
Mazur led the Tigers on offense, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs; Werner had two hits, including a two-run single; and Holsclaw had a double and a sac fly.
Gustafson and Sedin also had RBI singles and Wakefield and Paulsen singled.
Wyatt Tift was 2-for-2 with an RBI for the Beavers.
The Tigers play at Two Harbors Monday, May 20, and wrap up the regular season Tuesday, May 21, at Grantsburg. Both games begin at 5 p.m.
Northwestern is also the No. 1 seed for the WIAA Division 2 playoffs and will host either Ashland or Osceola on Tuesday, May 28. Ashland played at Osceola on Thursday, May 23.
TIGER TALES: Northwestern and Spooner split during the season with the Tigers winning 14-4 and losing 11-4.