By RYAN INGRAM
NEW ALBANY —
Cameron Northern took a perfect game into the fifth inning as the Jeff/GRC 13-14-year-old Baseball All-Star team dominated Silver Creek — last season’s 13-year-old District 5 Tournament champion and state runner-up — to win a championship of its own on Monday night at Mt. Tabor Field, 16-0.
Northern only gave up one hit, walking none and striking out five to earn the victory and avenge an earlier loss to Silver Creek in pool play.
“A pitcher like Cameron is going to come in and give you everything,” said Jeff coach Rob Harbeson, “He was just great tonight. He was unbelievable. I can’t speak enough about him. He’s been a leader the whole tournament.”
Bradley Cross led off the game for Jeff with a slow grounder that the shortstop was unable to glove. Cross came all the way around from first base to score on a deep double to the center-field wall by Austin Hall. A shallow fly off the bat of Jacob Cochrum was bobbled by the right fielder, bringing Hall in to make it 2-0 Jeff before the first out.
Silver Creek starting pitcher Michael Feeler rebounded to strike out Northern for the first out, but walked the next batter, Kyle Hayes, giving Jeff runners at first and second.
A passed ball allowed both runners to advance into scoring position before Matthew Harbeson singled to left to score Cochrum. A line drive to left by the following batter, Bradley Benton, brought in Hayes, pushing the lead to 4-0 with only one out.
Hunter Schmitz stepped to the plate, sent a single to right field and advanced to second on the throw to third. The throw was behind Benton as he rounded the bag, and he scurried home to make it 6-0 Jeff.
After Jeff’s Adam Starr drew a walk, Cross was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Hall sent a grounder to shortstop, but the throw home for the force out couldn’t be hauled in by the catcher covering and two runs came in, extending Jeff’s lead to 8-0.
Jeff wasn’t finished with its scoring just yet.
Cochrum came up and singled to left to score two more runs. The next two batters both popped out on the infield to end the inning, as Jeff led 10-0.
Northern needed only 11 pitches to dispel Silver Creek in the bottom of the first, setting the Creek All-Stars down in order.
Northern downed Silver Creek in order for the second straight inning, recording all three outs himself in the bottom of the second. He struck out the first batter, induced a pop-up to the mound for the second out and struck out the last batter.
In the third, Starr and Hall both singled to reach base. With one out and runners at second and third, Cochrum singled down the left-field line to bring in both runs, pushing the lead out to 12-0 Jeff.
Northern kept the hits coming with his first of the game, a single to left. Hayes popped out to center for the second out before Harbeson sent a sharp grounder to the shortstop. The throw was too high for the first baseman to corral, and Cochrum came home. A fly out to left ended the inning with Jeff leading 13-0.
Following two easy outs in the bottom of the third, Starr made a standout play at second to keep Northern’s perfect game alive. He ranged to the middle of the field to backhand a grounder off Feeler’s bat. He then threw a strike back across his body to first base to retire the side.
“I know they’re going to be there to back me up if I need them,” Northern said about his team’s defense. “Coach puts them out there in the right spots, so I know they’re going to make the plays.”
Jeff went quietly in the fourth. It’s only hit coming off the bat of Cross with two out.
Blake Wurm led off for Silver Creek in the bottom of the fourth and grounded out to Starr at second for the first out. Jacob Balz followed suit, also grounding out to second for out No. 2.
Cochrum, Jeff’s shortstop, took two steps towards the hole to field Cody McAfee’s grounder, then fired across the infield to barely get a hustling McAfee for out No. 3.
Jeff kept piling on runs in the top of the fifth, adding three to make it 16-0.
After Northern struck out the first batter in the bottom of the fifth, Ryan Wisdom came to the plate and sent a hard hit grounder up the middle to become Silver Creek’s first and only baserunner and end Northern’s chances at a perfect game.
Northern got both the following batters to fly out to right field to the end the game and sew up the district title for Jeff.
DISTRICT 5 TOURNAMENT
JEFF/GRC 16, SILVER CREEK 0
Jeff/GRC (10)03 03—16 15 0
Silver Creek 000 00— 0 1 4
W — Cameron Northern. L — Michael Feeler. 2B — Bradley Cross (J), Austin Hall (J), Jacob Cochrum 2 (J).