NAPPANEE – Getting any sort of lead when Alec Holcomb is on is a lead NorthWood likes.
A five-run cushion was more than enough for Holcomb, who was dealing Monday in a 10-2 NorthWood baseball win over Warsaw.
The Taylor-bound pitcher was hitting his spots with regularity, throwing 62 of his 97 pitches for strikes and recording 13 strikeouts in six innings. Holcomb did walk four and scatter four hits, but by and large was getting the results he wanted most of the night.
“He’s obviously a good pitcher and our guys knew that. We had to raise our level and compete at a high level,” said Warsaw head coach Andy Manes. “When you face a pitcher like that, there isn’t a lot of margin for error, and we left a couple opportunities to score some runs on the bases.”
NorthWood, on the other hand, took advantage of a shaky start from Warsaw starter Drake Graham. A passed ball, followed by a Trey Allman RBI single and a bases loaded walk put the Panthers up 3-0 in the first inning as Graham struggled to find his control.
A Matt Dutkowski RBI double and a throwing error brought in two more Panther runs as the hosts jumped out 5-0.
NorthWood head coach AJ Risedorph, after watching his team struggle to score two runs in a win against Wawasee in its last game, was happy with Monday’s start.
“The last couple of weeks we’ve been able to get some runs on the board right away and get our starters some room to breathe,” Risedorph said. “And when you have guys like Dut and Allman swinging the aluminum like they have been, it kind of become contagious in a way.”
Warsaw would claw back a couple runs on RBI singles from Ian Glogovsky and Liam Patton in the third and fifth innings. But in both cases, the Tigers left a pair of runners on base and Holcomb ended the inning on a strikeout. Holcomb closed out his day by striking out the side in the sixth.
Josh Stratford added a two-run single for the Panthers, which had Allman and Dutkowski each collect three hits and combine for five runs scored.
Graham settled down after his rough start, getting through five innings but was touched up for eight runs on six hits and six walks. Graham struck out six.
“I thought after giving up five runs in the first two innings, he really settled down and battled,” Manes said of Graham. “He obviously didn’t have his best stuff, but we also didn’t play well defensively behind him, letting a couple balls fall in. If you’re playing a team like NorthWood, you can’t have those things happen.”
NorthWood moves to 4-0 in the Northern Lakes Conference as the grind enters week two of the round robin carousel. Warsaw falls to 0-4.
“Warsaw was very patient at the plate and making Alec have to throw the good pitches,” Risedorph said. “He was trying to get guys up and in a little bit, and they took some of those. But Alec had a good first-pitch strike ratio and hit the corners. He really had a great start for us tonight.”
The JV contest saw a one-run contest in the sixth turn into a four-run NorthWood advantage and an 8-4 Panther win. NorthWood loaded the bases before bringing in three runs to pull away from the visiting Tigers. Jacob Raasch and Beau Stankovich combined for five hits for the Panthers while Warsaw had RBIs from Lukas Maier, Aaron Greene, Drew Yeager in its fourth-run fourth.
NorthWood (7-2) plays Elkhart Memorial Wednesday while Warsaw (3-7) visits Northridge Wednesday.