By Emily Barker/Jeremiah Johnson – Fox 59 Sports
Championship weekend at Victory Field got underway Friday night matchup of perennial powers in Class 3A between the Jasper Wildcats and the Norwell Knights. Heading into the game both teams had a season record of 32-3.
Jasper put the first run on the scoreboard in the second inning, but they could not hang on to the lead for long. The Knights answered back with a single run in the third inning thanks to an RBI single by Jonah Patten. The score remained tied until the bottom of the fifth where Norwell would gain one more run on a double by Patten and hold onto the lead for the state championship, 2-1.
First year head coach Andy McClain said he knew the game would come down to a pitcher duel and is excited to bring the community a state championship.
“It’s not about me, this community has such a baseball tradition and these kids worked hard from day one in the fall, all winter, all spring and it is really cool to set a goal and know you can probably get it done if you play together and work together,” McClain said. “It’s a great life lesson, and we have talent kids who really worked hard on being a team.”
McClain was also coaching the Friday night game at Victory Field last year leading Brebeuf Jesuit to a Class 3A State-Runner up finish. One year later, with a different uniform, he was celebrating a championship thanks in large part to the performance of a future professional star.
This is the third state title for Norwell High School and senior pitcher Josh VanMeter, a recent 5th round draft pick by the San Diego Padres, is glad he could share the memory with his teammates.
“To do this with my senior teammates, my best friends, you know we are going off to college and its going to be the last time I see some of these guys for a while, and just to be able to share this moment with them is just an unbelievable feeling,” VanMeter said. The senior shortstop/pitcher allowed just three hits while pitching a complete game. He also scored both runs for the Knights after reaching base via walks in the third and fifth inning.
The baseball action continues at Victory Field Saturday with the Class A State Championship between Vincennes Rivet and Lafayette Central Catholic. South Spencer and Northfield will battle for the 2A title at 4 p.m. and the undefeated Cathedral Irish will look for a perfect season against Elkhart Central in 4A at 7 p.m.