NAPPANEE — It was just another in a long line of typical Plymouth vs. NorthWood contests as a three-run Plymouth lead in the bottom of the seventh wouldn’t be enough to keep the Panthers from taking a walk-off 8-7 win.
Over the past five years the two teams have made a habit of seventh inning comebacks and this time it would be NorthWood’s turn to come out on top. The Panther rally would be the capper to a game where gale-force winds made every fly ball an adventure.
“We’ve beaten them in the last inning, they’ve beaten us in the last inning, you play seven for a reason,” said Plymouth coach Ryan Wolfe. “We are getting closer. We’ve played about 15 outs the last four or five games we played 18 today. We have to find a way to finish some games.”
“They are a good ball club, they always are,” said Wolfe. “They earned the four spot they got there in the seventh. We got a couple of balls we thought we could make some plays on but it didn’t happen and other than that they hit the ball.”
A double and five singles mixed in with some misplayed balls led to a walk-off double by Gage Gongwer to hand the loss to reliever Matt Manzuk.
NorthWood starter Isaac Roberts and Plymouth starter Tanner Feece both struggled with their command early and often. While Roberts was chased after a five-run Plymouth second, Feece was able to hang on and fight his way through the fifth and put his team in a position to win the ball game leaving with a 7-3 lead.
“On a day like today where you didn’t know on every ball hit in the air if it was going to be caught or not — you saw that on both sides — to battle and grind and give us some big innings where he made some pitches and get out of it he did a great job,” said Wolfe of his starter’s gutty performance.
Feece walked four and gave up seven hits but extricated himself from jam, after jam, making big pitches in key situations. Feece’s efforts led to NorthWood stranding 13 baserunners in the game.
Neither starter figured in the decision.
NorthWood reliever Wriley Symons came on and righted the ship for the Panthers giving up just one run in five innings work to take the win.
Manzuk took the loss in relief but had a pair of RBIs in the game. Matt Dobuck had a multi-hit game with an RBI and Feece had an RBI double to help himself.
“We just have to find a way,” said Wolfe. “We have to find a way to get some grit and battle. We really did a good job of that all game. We hit the ball really well did a lot of good things but we have found a way to squander some things in the last two games. It’s a tough one to swallow after being up that much throughout the game.”
The loss moves Plymouth to 1-5 in NLC play with Northridge coming to Bill Nixon Field on Monday to end the first half of the double round-robin schedule. They are 4-7 on the year. NorthWood is 8-3 and 4-1.
•NORTHWOOD 8, PLYMOUTH 7
Plymouth 1 5 0 1 0 0 0 7-6-1
NorthWood 2 0 1 0 0 1 4 8-15-3
WP — Symons. LP — Manzuk 0-2. 2B — Yoder (NW), Ayala (NW), Gongwer (NW), Newcomer (NW), Feece (P).