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Norway baseball rallies for 9-7 win over Kingsford



Norway senior Alex Ortman slides in with the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh inning Friday afternoon at Lodal Park. (Ron Deuter photo)

KINGSFORD — With four runs in the top of the seventh and a jaw-dropping highlight reel catch by center fielder Hayden Amundson in the bottom half, Norway posted a stunning 9-8 come from behind victory over Kingsford in varsity baseball Friday afternoon at Spigarelli Memorial Field.

The Knights (15-2-1) held a 9-7 lead after their rally in the top of the final frame.

A lead-off walk in the bottom of the inning brought Wyatt Scott to the plate representing the tying run for Kingsford.

He connected and smashed a Cole Baij fastball to the deepest part of the field in dead center, but Amundson, sprinting toward the fence with his back to everyone, stuck out his glove just in time and made a sensational over the shoulder grab.

“I’ve never seen a catch like that,” Norway head coach Tony Adams said. “We practice it, maybe not exactly like that, but we practice it. Off the bat, the kid got all of it and I didn’t think it was going to stay in the yard. Hayden plays shallower than I like, but he’s comfortable going back and that was one heck of a play.”

Norway’s defense made another heads up play a few batters later when Kingsford’s Jacob Deuter drove in a run with a two-out line drive single to right center but wound up getting caught between first and second when the throw in from the outfield was cut off at the edge of the infield. Deuter was eventually tagged in a run down to end the game.

“It’s Kingsford and we’ve taken our beatings from them over the years, and this is just a different group,” Adams said. “They don’t get too high. They don’t get too low. And we chipped away and then made some things happen toward the end.

“That’s a really good team and I’m hoping they can bring back that Division 2 district trophy.”

The Knights took advantage of two walks to start the top of the seventh in mounting their comeback.

One run scored on a ball hit on the left side of the infield that Kingsford had to eat with no play.

Baij brought in a pair with a rip to right center and AJ Gallino added a run-scoring single.

Kingsford led 4-1 after the first inning, but shaky defense helped open the door for Norway. Cameron Varda, who opened the game with a leadoff homer to stake the Knights to an early 1-0 advantage, sent a two-out grounder to short in the second that got through the infield to score two runs.

The Flivvers answered those tallies with two of their own in the bottom of the second when Joey Weber dumped a two-out, two-RBI single into left.

But they couldn’t answer in the fifth when Norway plated another pair of unearned runs with two away thanks to a throwing error after a grounder to short.

“Too many walks and errors,” Kingsford head coach Joe Kriegl said. “Norway is a great team. I don’t want to take anything away from them. They’ve got an awesome team. We knew that.

“We had to play a great game and we killed ourselves. They had nine runs on five hits.”

Kingsford had as many errors as Norway had hits and issued seven walks to the Knights.

The leadoff homer to Varda was the only earned run for Flivver starter Andres Finley, who finished strong, fanning five overall including the last two batters he faced in the sixth before being lifted after eclipsing 100 pitches.

Jack Kriegl relieved Finley with two out in the sixth. He got a strikeout to end the inning but ran into trouble in the seventh and was relieved by Jonah Doenier ahead of the Knights’ run-scoring hits.

A wild pitch with a runner on third in the sixth gave Kingsford a 7-5 edge heading into the final inning.

Norway used three pitchers in the game. Varda started and went four innings. Bryce Adams came on in relief but ran into control issues in the sixth before being lifted for flamethrower Baij to close the game.

The Knights allowed four hits, walked eight and hit two batters while striking out five.

Garrett Brown had a double and two runs scored for Kingsford. Weber finished with four RBI, adding a two-run single up the middle in the first after Finley drove in a run with a single through the left side.

Baij finished with two hits for the Norway offense.

“They made the plays and we didn’t,” Kriegl said. “We hit the ball and made plays on the bases, but ultimately you cannot walk as many as we did and have the errors at critical times. Just can’t do that.

“That’s a good team and that’s what happens. You let them hang around and it will come back to bite you. It bit us pretty hard. It’s a tough one.”

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