Norse Close Best-Ever Season With Dramatic Win

Click the thumnbails to see photos and videos taken by Brad Landis, and to hear comments from Austin Samanske, Josh Blake, Zac Gomersall, and Norse Manager Mike Pankow. Also click the AUDIO button to hear te radio broadcast of that entire eleven-run sixth inning rally.

The Bay College Norse baseball team wrapped up its best-ever season in program history with a doubleheader sweep over Detroit Community Christian College on Sunday.

The final game ended with eleven unanswered runs and the Norse honored their eleven sophomores during a ceremony. Bay won the opener, 5-2, and then took the nightcap, 14-4, after trailing by a run with two out in the sixth inning.

Bay finishes its season with ten straight victories , and a 24-18 overall record (11-9 MCCAA). The previous record-high numbers for season wins was nine, and the Norse finished just one game out of a NJCAA Region 12 playoff spot.

All things that Bay College Manager Mike Pankow says are plenty to build on, and to keep the program moving forward.

The following is a story from Bay College Sports Information with details from the weekend. We will continue to add more photos, videos, and interviews from the weekend as all of those files get edited:

The Bay College Norse (24-18, 11-9 MCCAA) finished off their season with a four-game sweep of Community Christian College (MI) (8-16) over the weekend.  On Saturday Bay won by scores of 7-2 and 10-0 before winning 5-2 in the opener on Sunday and a wild finish to a 14-4 finale.

Thijs Rijpstra
 (FR, Dongen, Netherlands) helped the Norse start off the series on a good note, as he took to the mound for game one.  He kept CCC off balance all game and only gave up two hits, two walks, and two unearned runs while striking out five.  

Meanwhile the Norse offense gave Rijpstra some run support, something he hasn't always gotten in his time at Bay.  In the third Bay took the lead for the first time with a Zach Gibson (FR, Nassau, Bahamas) three-run home run to left, making the score 4-2. 

Charlson Croes (FR, Orenjestad, Aruba) extended the lead in the fourth with an RBI single. 

Bay then put an exclamation on the win in the fifth when Gibson blasted his second home run of the game, this time a two-run shot.

Gibson's two home runs gave him five RBI in the contest. 

Tyler Darmogray
 (FR, Gladstone, MI) ended the game two for three.

The Norse rode that momentum into the second game and scored early and often.  George Cooper (FR, Eltham, Australia) got things going with a two-out three-run home run to left in the first.

The Norse then loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a walk to start the second.  Back-to-back errors plated a pair of runs for Bay, and then Zac Gomersall (SO, Perth, Australia) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in another run.  Josh Blake's (SO, Seffner, FL) sacrifice fly made the score 7-0.

Jace Cota
 (SO, Chippewa Falls, WI) drove in a run in the third with a single, and followed it up in the fifth with an RBI double to left.  The latter hit would end the game as it drove in the tenth run in the bottom of the fifth.

Bay got another strong pitching performance, this time from Cohen Thompson (FR, Chapin, SC) who performed well in a spot start situation.  He walked three hitters and gave up two hits while striking out three.

Sunday's games included a bit more drama than the previous day's affairs.  Bay trailed by one heading into the second of the early game.  Easton Miller (FR, Marquette, MI) tied the game with a sacrifice fly, triggering a two-out rally for Bay.  Lorenzo Feliciano (FR, Deerfield Beach, FL) drove in a run with an RBI single, Bill Hosegood (FR, Radisson, SK) legged out an infield single that drove in another run, and an error brought home Feliciano, giving Bay a 4-1 advantage.

Community Christian answered with a run in the top half of the third, but Bay fired right back.  Cooper doubled and scored off of Austin Samanske's (FR, Eagle River, WI) single up the middle to get Bay back to a three-run lead. 

The Norse were the beneficiaries of some more strong pitching.  Hunter Ballantyne (FR, Brantford, ON) took the ball for his final start of the season and went four innings.  He struck out five, gave up three hits, two unearned runs, and a walk for the win.  Darmogray worked the final three for a save.  He gave up just one hit, walked two, and struck out two.

Samanske led the Norse attack with a three for three day.

The series finale took on a life of its own.  With it being the final game of the season for Bay, Head Coach Mike Pankow filled his lineup with all sophomores, giving the eleven graduating players one last time together on the field.

Despite the lopsided final score, the game was filled with plenty of drama, making the last ride for those graduating players a very roller coaster thrill type feel.

It started with Bay falling behind in the first when Community Christian scored a pair.  The Norse answered in the second when Jake Sager (SO, Oconto Falls, WI) drove a double to left to bring in Brandon Watts (SO, Valrico, FL), but Sager was left standing on second when the inning ended.

Bay tied the game an inning later when Cota led off the frame with a solo shot to left.

A pair of leadoff singles for Community Christian spelled trouble for Bay in the fourth.  Corey Ferris doubled to left, bringing in a run and a ground out to second plated another one, and the Norse found themselves trailing by two runs.

Bay was presented with a golden opportunity to snatch the lead back in the fifth.  Scottie Hiller (SO, Escanaba, MI) drove a ball to center and ended up with a triple to lead off the inning, though he did have to leave the game after pulling up with an injury.  A pair of one-out walks loaded the bases, but a pop up in the infield looked to give Community Christian a way out. 

Ryan Strutzel
 (SO, Mundelein, IL) showed great plate discipline in the next at bat and was eventually walked, bringing in a run, but that would be all the Norse would get in the frame, sending it to the sixth with Community Christian clinging to a 4-3 lead. 

A one-out walk to Melchor Feliciano (SO, Deerfield Beach, FL) and a two-out walk to Cota put the tying and go-ahead runs on for Bay, with the hear of their order stepping to the plate.  Zac Gomersall was at the plate and had two strikes on him when drove a ball into left field that got down for him.  Cota raced all the way around from first to score and with the two-RBI double, emotions were running high as the Norse took the lead for the first time in the game. 

The Norse were not done yet.

On the second pitch of the ensuing at bat, Josh Blake crushed a ball to left that went over the fence for a two-run home run.

That sequence of events opened the floodgates for Bay.

An error, a walk, and a hit by pitch loaded the bases.  Sager lined a ball to center to plate one.  Melchor Feliciano doubled to left, bringing in two more.  Gibson, in for the injured Hiller, lined a ball into left to pick up an RBI.  Cota drove him in with a single to center, and Gomersall belted a double to right-center to drive in Cota, ending the game via the ten-run rule.

When the dust had settled Bay had scored 11 runs in the sixth inning, all of them coming in with two outs.

Keenan Campbell
 (SO, Johannesburg, South Africa) started on the mound for the Norse and went four innings.  He gave up six hits, four runs, walked two, and struck out one.  Blake Julian (SO, Iron Mountain, MI) got the win in relief.  He pitched two innings and walked one.

Cota finished the game with three hits in four at bats.  He drove in two, scored three times, and had a double and a home run.  Gomersall was two for four with the two doubles and three RBI. 

Sager finished two for four with three RBI and a double.

There was plenty of emotion on the field afterward considering the dramatic nature of the final game and the season coming to a close.

"This is always a tough day," said Pankow.  "You spend so much time with these young men and see all the hard work they put in, and then all of a sudden, the season ends, they go home, and it is all over with.  I am glad to see them go out on a high note.  This group has accomplished a lot of things, produced the best record in the history of the program and set many team records along the way, and I am so proud of not only what they accomplished, but the way they did it and the type of young men they are."

The Norse finish their season with a ten-game win streak and a 24-18 overall record.  They finished 11-9 in MCCAA Northern Conference play, just a game behind Mid Michigan and the second place slot that gets a berth into the Regional Tournament.