KOKOMO – Adams Central had a plan of attack against Northfield heading into Saturday’s Class 2A Kokomo Semistate.
The Flying Jets needed to keep the Norsemen scoreless early to have a chance to beat Northfield starter Ryan Keaffaber.
When the plans had to change, South Adams didn’t have a response.
Northfield scored a run in the top of the first and another in the second, forcing a pitching change and throwing off the Jets’ plans.
With three more Northfield runs in the third, Adams Central was sunk. Northfield (29-3) won 5-1 to advance to play South Spencer in next weekend’s state final.
(Keaffaber) is a good pitcher, Adams Central coach Dave Neuenschwander said. We knew coming in that it was going to have to be a 1-0, 2-0, 2-1 game, and the way they started out, they hit (Jets’ starting pitcher) Isaac (Luginbill) pretty hard, which I was not expecting.
I made the change (to reliever Isaac Soldner) quickly. Even though they only had two runs, the outs they were getting, they were hit pretty hard. (Soldner) came in and did a super job. We faced a good pitcher. No doubt about that; he is the best pitcher that we have faced in the tournament so far.
Keaffaber was in control. The state’s all-time leader in career wins got his 48th victory by throwing a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts.
Keaffaber got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the third to preserve a 5-0 lead and gave up a run in the sixth.
But Adams Central didn’t get a runner to second at any other time.
He’s got command of three pitches, Northfield coach Tony Uggen said of Keaffaber, who is headed to Indiana State next season. He can throw the fastball, curve or change at any point he wants.
To be honest with you, I didn’t think it was one of his better games. He seemed to be a little around the plate and he had a few pitches I thought looked pretty good that he just missed on, but when he had to make a big pitch he got one.
Case in point was in the third inning, when he struck out Adams Central No. 3 hitter Dalton Combs with two outs and the bases loaded.
When Dalton came up with the bases loaded, (Keaffaber) basically said, I’m going to bring it, see how far you can hit it,’ and he blew it by him, Neuenschwander said.
Lugenbill took the loss. Soldner gave up three runs in his first inning, then allowed just one base runner per inning in the final three.
Conner Lengerich singled twice and scored Adams Central’s run in the sixth when he came around to score on Cooper Hill’s double. Luginbill had the Jets’ other hit.
We’re 26-4, it was a great season, Neuenschwander said.
You can’t take that away from these guys at all. They did a great job. It’s been a fun year.