ELKHART — Warsaw starter Noah Burgh looked pretty good from the start of Thursday’s Elkhart Memorial Sectional quarterfinal with Concord. He looked even better as the game wore on, and better still when the Tigers started pouring on the run support.
Burgh pitched a two-hit gem in six shutout innings for Warsaw, and the Tigers handed the Minutemen a lopsided, 11-0 loss at Class 4-A, Sectional 4. They advance to play Northridge, a 5-4 winner over Elkhart Central in Thursday’s opening game, in semifinal play Saturday at approximately 5 p.m.
“He was a little upset that I took him out, but it got to be where we could afford to get him out of the game. The offense at the end really afforded us that, so it was good,” said Warsaw head coach Andy Manes. “He pitched a great game. I think he only gave up one or two hits the whole game. But it was nice for our offense to be able to get him out of the game.”
Burgh attacked the strike zone early and often, consistently working ahead in counts and was efficient in his role, needing just 89 pitches to work through six shutout innings. He began to find command of his offspeed stuff midway through the game, and he struck out six Concord batters over his final three innings, versus three walks on the way to the win.
Jacob Hutcherson finished it off completing the shutout in the seventh.
“We felt like he didn’t have his best stuff, especially at the beginning of the game, but as the game wore on, he got more confident, and, again, it’s easier to pitch when you’re ahead that much,” said Manes of Burgh. “But, yeah, pitched a heck of a game.”
Meanwhile, the Tigers racked up 10 hits at the plate Thursday.
They went down in order through the first three innings facing Drew McDougle but finally got to the Concord starter in the fourth. Liam Patton doubled down the left field line, and Burgh singled him home with two outs, blooping a ball into the no man’s land between second, third and the mound and beating out first baseman Kaleb Sotebeer diving onto first base. Burgh stole second and reached third when Matt Shoemaker reached on a dropped third strike to extend the inning, and Concord right fielder Cal Whitaker lost track of Joey Springer’s deep ball in the setting sun, scoring both Burgh and Shoemaker to give Warsaw a 3-0 lead.
The Tigers tacked on another run on a Patton sacrifice fly in the fifth, then scratched out two more on a trio of singles from Burgh, Hutcherson and Nico Luna in the sixth. They really broke it open with five runs during a four-hit seventh that saw the Minutemen commit two errors to cap off a five-error night.
“McDougle early on was mixing speeds well. He was hitting zones. He was on. But he threw a lot of pitches,” explained Manes. “We went one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three the first three innings, but we got to him a little bit, and then we started putting the ball in play. But credit to him, he started out and kept us off-balance for the first part of the game.”
Hutcherson, Burgh and Patton all went 2-for-4 at the plate with Hutcherson and Burgh tallying an RBI, while Patton drove in two runs for the Tigers.
“All year he’s been a tremendous hitter for us. He’s barreling on balls almost every time at bat, forcing defenses to get him out,” Manes said of Patton. “I made the comment to him a week or two ago that it seemed to me during the game that he had a bad game, but I look at the box score and he’s still 2-for-4. He’s playing real good offensive baseball, let’s just put it that way.”
Concord closes the season with a record of 2-22, while Warsaw improves to 12-16 with Thursday’s result. The Tigers now face Northern Lakes Conference-champion Northridge — which topped Warsaw twice during NLC play, the last time by a narrow, 6-5 final — in Saturday’s late semifinal at Memorial.
“We’ve played them twice already. We’re going to give them our best shot,” Manes said. “Obviously a great team, coached very well. They do the little things very well, and that’s something we’re trying to get these guys to do. So, yeah, it’ll be a challenge, but we’re ready for it. We’ll see how it goes Saturday.”