By RON DEUTER
NORWAY - The way Norway ace John Grayvold, Jr. has been pitching this spring, the Division 4 District 97 baseball final was probably over the moment he took the mound.
Theresa Proudfit/The Daily News Photo
Assistant coach Mike Maule accepts the Division 4 District 97 trophy after Norway’s 15-0 win over Stephenson Friday at Marion Park. Pictured behind Maule, from left, Garrett Bonetti, Dan Vivio, Taylor Bonetti, Jake Rehn, John Grayvold, Jr., Billy Bourg and Austin Grayvold.
But for good measure, he decided to added a tape-measure-distance home in his first at-bat.
Holding Stephenson to one hit and smacking three of Norway's 11 hits, Grayvold and the Knights pounded the Eagles 15-0 in four innings Friday at Marion Park, giving Norway a third straight district title and a ticket to regional play at Sault St. Marie next Saturday.
"Johnny Grayvold controlled the game from the mound and he dominated at the plate," Knights coach Tony Adams said.
Grayvold connected to the alley in right center in the top of the first, clearing not only the fence, but also the batting cage directly behind.
Norway, the visitors in the contest, went up 2-0 in the second thanks to a bases-loaded walk and then busted the game open in the third by sending 16 batters to plate and scoring 11 runs on 6 hits.
Four Stephenson fielding errors helped extend the inning.
"The kids did what they were supposed to do," Adams said. "We put the ball in play."
Grayvold opened with a double to left center that one-hopped the fence. He came in on a single by Mike Faull, who added two more RBIs with a single to right later in the inning.
Austin Grayvold added a sacrifice fly for another run, and Dan Vivio drove in two with a single to left.
Garrett Bonetti also tallied two RBIs in the inning, bringing in one run on a fielder's choice and another when he beat out a grounder to the hole on the left side.
Norway's final runs came in during the fourth, as pinch-hitter Bryce Plante drove in a pair with a line-drive single to left.
Grayvold barely blinked on the mound, striking out seven of the 15 batters he faced and allowing just one hit.
Quinten Lukasik took the loss for Stephenson, lasting into the third when he gave way to Rickey Chaney.
Chaney had the lone hit for the Eagles, ripping one past third base for a single in the third.
Norway improved to 14-5 and will face the winner of the Newberry district Saturday. The Knights has a bye in the three-team district, advancing directly to Friday's final.
"That's always are goal," Adams said. "We want to defend the district. We were fortunate we got the bye, but we've been on the other side too.
"I'm proud of the kids and proud of the program."
Stephenson advanced to Friday's final by knocking off Ironwood 8-1 in an earlier game. A three-run first inning which included singles by Eddy Becerra and Arzack Brown was more than enough for Chaney who got the win before being relieved by Lukasik. The duo combined for 11 strikeouts.
Ironwood had five hits against the Eagles, getting a RBI single from Brett Ossanna in the sixth for its only run.
Andrew Dahlberg added a RBI single in Stephenson's two-run third. In the Eagles' three-run fourth, Alex Starzynski hit a RBI double, and Jeremy Koller added a run-scoring single.
Norway 11(11) 2 - 15 11 0
Stephenson 000 0 - 0 1 5