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Pilgrims hang on for wild win and share of NLC title

May 16, 2018
By

WinnersPLYMOUTH -On senior night it was a freshman that came up big as Plymouth’s Pilgrims somehow found a way to ride a roller coaster to a wild 8-7 win and a share of the NLC title.

Trailing for most of the game, the Pilgrims found a way to claw back and plate the tying run in the bottom of the seventh on a wild pitch and send the game to extra innings. The wind went out of the Pilgrims’ sails in the ninth when Northridge plated three — one on a passed ball, another on a wild pitch and the third on a single — to fall behind 7-4.

“I’m so proud of my kids, to come back and have the resilience to come back and battle for the whole game,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Wolfe. “Chuy (Jesus Luva) came in and pitched his heart out and Cole (Filson) came in on short rest to battle and grind.He did what he needed to do. It’s just awesome.”

Luva came on in relief of starter Matt Dobuck and held the Raiders to a single run and struck out six. Filson went two innings to close the game.

The Plymouth half of the ninth was nothing short of miraculous. Benji Nixon led off with a one hopper off the center field fence for a double; Cole Filson moved him to third with a chopper to the right of the mound. Cam Dennie walked on four pitches and Noah Pesak’s single scored Nixon and sent Dennie to third.

Jeremy Drudge hit a laser shot to right that Northridge right fielder Logan Pratt couldn’t handle, putting runners at first and second. Jacob Deacon’s line shot to third saw Pesak barely recover to avoid being doubled off at second.

That’s when the unlikely heroes stepped up for the Pilgrims. Catcher Jackson Lee whose passed ball allowed a run in the top of the inning stepped in a lined a shot to right to score Pesak to tie the game and send pinch runner Thomas Dolan — who had been doubled off at second to end the eighth — to third as the winning run.

Then freshman Matt Dobuck stepped to the plate. Dobuck started the game on the mound and had a tough outing leaving trailing 3-0. He struck out three previous times at the plate. He also cooly lined the first pitch straight up the middle for the game winner.

It led Wolfe to reflect on the game of baseball.

“Look who has the bat in his hand to win it and look who’s there in position to score the winning run, Thomas Dolan,” said Wolfe. “Him getting doubled off was my fault the inning before I thought the ball was down and I told him ‘look where you are — you’ve got another chance to be the winning run’ but that’s the kind of team we have. We used every player on our bench tonight in some situation. We didn’t execute real well early in the game and for those guys to be able to step up and do it late in the game is unreal.”

While Plymouth pitching wasn’t sharp — 11 walks and a hit batter — the defense made play after play to end big innings before they started and keep damage to minimum. 

“To get those defensive plays behind the pitcher especially when you don’t have your good stuff … it’s been great all year to have that trust,” said Wolfe.

Also at a premium, the Plymouth bench came on to do a multitude of things in the late innings that contributed to the win. 

“These guys have been in varsity games,” said Wolfe. “We’re fortunate to have the older guys back but in tight tournament games we’re going to have to put those guys in these situations where we need them to win the game. They need to know the signs, they need to execute, they need to know how to read balls, all the stuff they’ve got to do in game situations.”

“They are going to be in the game when the game matters,” he said. “I’m not going to put somebody out there that we don’t have trust in. We’ve gained a lot of trust with all these guys over the course of the year.”

The huge comeback seals a portion of the NLC title for the Pilgrims. Earlier in the night NorthWood defeated Goshen 2-1 to grab a portion for themselves.

The Pilgrims (15-9) will take on Crown Point and McCutcheon over the weekend and finish the year Monday at Bill Nixon Field against Knox.

•PLYMOUTH 8, NORTHRIDGE 7

at Bill Nixon Field

Northridge 1 0 2  1 0 0  0 0 3  7-5-1

Plymouth  0 0 0  2 1 0  1 0 4  8-12-2

WP – Filson. LP – Knepp. HR – Logan (N). 2B – Nixon (P). 

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