DECATUR – The way the Class 3A baseball regional championship between Norwell and NorthWood was going, it would only be appropriate for a home run to decide the outcome.
Josh VanMeter obliged as the Norwell senior hit a solo shot in the top of the eighth inning to give the Knights a 9-8 win at Bellmont on Tuesday.
I didnt go up there trying to hit a home run, VanMeter said. I got a fastball and was able to hit it out of the park and put us up by one.
VanMeter also earned the win. He had five strikeouts in two innings, including fanning the side in the seventh and the final two batters of the game.
I live for those situations, VanMeter said. I just went out there and pitched.
Norwell (31-3) will face Western (23-5) in the semistate at either Kokomos Highland Park or South Bends Coveleski Stadium. The IHSAA will make the decision based on geography Wednesday. It was the Knights first regional title since the state championship season of 2007.
You dont just get handed 31 wins, you have to be gritty, first-year Norwell coach Andy McClain said. Thats not panicking. We have been through a lot of different situations, and that helps.
You can rely on your talent and keep grinding away.
The Knights hit six home runs, including two by Spencer Newell. Austin Dantzer, Tailur Szarenski and Austin Dettmer also hit home runs.
Hitting-wise, we just fed off each other, Newell said. We were here to just get hits and get runs, home runs are just a bonus.
Four of the home runs were solo shots by Szarenski, Newell, Dettmer and VanMeter.
The only run Norwell didnt score via a home run was Newells RBI double in the third.
NorthWood had two home runs as the teams combined for eight.
We have been hitting the ball pretty hard and deep and well all year, said McClain, whose team had 26 home runs coming into the game. We have strong kids who work hard in the weight room, and it was a hitters day. The wind was blowing out, and it is a smaller ballpark.
Any fastball up, the hitters were going to do a number on it.
Norwell went into the seventh with a 8-6 advantage but NorthWoods Kyle McCoy sent the game into extra innings tied at 8 with a two-run home run.
We werent down when they came back on us, Newell said. We have had a lot of those comeback wins this year. We had confidence coming into that last inning.
Newell went 3 for 4 with four RBI and two runs scored, and VanMeter was 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.
McCoy threw a complete game for NorthWood (17-8), despite giving up nine runs, 14 hits and walking three.
Norwell trailed 5-4 going into the top of the fifth but scored four runs on two-run homers by Dantzer and Newell to take an 8-5 advantage.