Ortman’s gem spoiled, Knights fall to Escanaba

(Mitch Vosburg/Daily Press photo) Norway’s Alex Ortman (20) delivers a pitch against Escanaba at Al Ness Field in Escanaba on Thursday.

ESCANABA — Baseball can be as simple as it is fickle. Norway senior Alex Ortman learned that the hard way against Escanaba on Thursday inside the confines of Al Ness Field.

Ortman allowed a lead-off single to Eskymos senior Nick Chiu in the fifth inning. It was the only hit Ortman surrendered, and he struck out six batters in the process.

But five walks and a less than ideal first inning in a game that featured three combined hits and three combined errors plagued the Knights in a 1-0 loss to the Eskymos.

“This is a great game for us to play at the end of the year,” Norway coach Tony Adams said. “We love playing it and we’d love to win, obviously. Our kids came down here with that mindset, and it was another one-run game and we didn’t get the big hit.

“I don’t know if (Escanaba) got a big hit either, but they did enough to beat us.”

Ortman got Esky lead-off hitter Chase Cloutier to smack a 2-2 pitch for a ground ball.

Knights’ third baseman Bryce Adams had a good read off the bat, but the ball landed two inches in front of his glove and bounced over it.

From there Ortman found a ying-yang scenario with the strike zone. A six-pitch walk to Eli Gardner put two ducks on the pond, but was immediately followed by Ortman freezing Esky senior Ben Johnson on a called strike three.

A five-pitch walk to Bon LaChance to load the bases was met with three-straight swinging strikes to retire Mikaiden Hughes for the inning’s second out.

All that stood in Ortman’s way was a showdown with Eskymo freshman Brody Ison. Five pitches later Ison drew ball four. A two-out, bases-loaded walk gave Esky a 1-0 lead which stood until Esky sophomore Lennox Peacock forced Ian Popp to swing and miss at strike three for the final out of the game.

“I wasn’t mentally prepared, that first inning really got me,” Ortman said. “After that inning my pitching was alright, but my teammates made plays in the infield. The first inning was (me) not really prepared.”

While Norway was held scoreless, it did have a few chances to ruin Peacock’s complete game shutout.

Cameron Varda drew a two-out walk. A single by Landon Amundson was not only the first base hit of the game, but gave the Knights runners at the corners with Owen Baij coming to the plate. Baij looked at strike one and grounded into a fielders’ choice to strand the pair of ducks on the pond.

Popp came in clutch in the fifth, belting a loud two-out single. Varda drew a walk to put two Knights aboard once again, but Amundson grounded out to Peacock to end the inning.

Ortman drew a one-out walk in the sixth, but Cole Baij and Adams struck out to end the threat. The Knights went down in order in the seventh.

Ortman allowed one unearned run across 6 2/3 innings of work. Peacock allowed two hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts across seven shutout innings.

“We needed to see that,” Tony Adams said. ” I thought we weren’t ready for the first couple innings in the box, but I thought as the game went on we got better at bats against (Peacock). He had a really powerful mix. fastball is hot. So I thought we did better with that, but it’s still disappointing.

“We’ve got three pitchers who will pitch against anybody, and Alex did a heck of a job. We had the big error and some walks, and we couldn’t overcome it.”


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