Given the cold temperatures on an overcast day, the Norwalk baseball team got everything it wanted out of Wednesday’s SBC Lake Division game against visiting Tiffin Columbian.
The Truckers grabbed an early lead — scoring all their runs with two outs — then let sophomore starter Thomas Gfell do the rest in a 6-1 victory over the Tornadoes.
The win is the sixth straight for Norwalk, which improved to 9-2 overall and 4-0 in the Lake ahead of a big league game Friday at Perkins.
“It’s been a variety of guys, but it always starts on the mound,” Norwalk coach Wes Douglas said of the hot streak. “Different guys have stepped up on offense. We’re not tearing the cover off the ball, but we put the ball in play and have an aggressiveness on the bases has gone our way so far.
“I think these guys have bought in to those parts that I believe in as a coach, which have been a trademark of our program,” he added.
Norwalk staked Gfell — who went the distance allowing just one unearned run — to an early 4-0 lead after two innings.
In the bottom of the first, Eli Obringer was hit by a pitch, then sacrifice bunted to second. After Nate Adelman flied out, Obringer advanced to third on a wild pitch — then elder brother, Garrett Obringer, drew a walk and stole second.
With the two Obringer’s at second and third, freshman Ian Minor then singled them both in for a 2-0 lead.
Leighton Battles was hit by a pitch to begin the second inning, then Tony Weisenburger reached on a bunt single — advancing Battles to third. Eli Obringer then singled up the middle to score both runners for a 4-0 lead.
The Truckers then added a single run in the fourth and fifth innings.
Following the same theme, Sam Battles was hit by a pitch, and Adelman reached on an error — which allowed Battles to advance to third.
With the steal sign up, Sam Battles made a break for home — and Adelman was caught in a rundown between first and second, but not before Battles got home first to make it 5-0.
Minor singled to left to start the fifth, with Luke Weaver advancing him to second on a sacrifice bunt. Leighton Battles then had an RBI single to score Minor to make it a 6-0 lead.
The Tornadoes (3-6, 2-3) scored an unearned run after two singles and an error in the top of the sixth. But that was it for them, as Gfell was in complete control.
Gfell threw 99 pitches over the seven innings — with 69 of those going for strikes (69 percent). He scattered six singles while striking out four and walking two.
Douglas couldn’t have been more pleased with Gfell, given his last time out on the mound on Monday in a 10-6 win at Sandusky.
“We brought him in just to keep him sharp, and to be honest, he got rocked,” Douglas said. “They had some hard hits and a three-run home run. So to see him out there today, I couldn’t be more proud of the way he came back.
“He was in command the whole way,” he added. “Coach (Wes) Miller had him throwing his offspeed pitch a lot.”
Minor finished 3 for 3 with the two-run single in the first to lead yet another balanced attack for Norwalk.
“The freshmen and sophomores again came through, and so did Leighton as our lone senior,” Douglas said. “To score all our runs with two outs, that’s a backbreaker for the other team and an energizer in our dugout.
Douglas will start Nolan Flowers (2-1, 1.56 ERA) will start on Friday at Perkins (8-1, 2-0), assuming the weather holds.
As for the last week-plus of success, Douglas said he has a young team that believes in each other.
“They’ve all bought into their roles and trust each other and the coaching staff,” he said. “There is still a long way to go with a lot of strong teams on our schedule, but these young guys don’t know who the Bellevue, Lexington and Tiffin programs are.
“They’ve been very good and successful in their athletic careers, and their confidence is high among them,” he added. “I don’t want to overlook our juniors and senior, because it’s been a great blend. It takes a lot of things coming together in order to have some success that we’ve been fortunate to have so far.”
Columbian 000 001 0 — 1 6 3
Norwalk 220 110 x — 7 7 2
WP: Gfell; LP: Reyes