Plymouth keeps rolling in NLC with win over NorthWood

PLYMOUTH — Another complete pitching performance, another flawless defensive effort, another Northern Lakes Conference win.
Jordan Scheetz pitched a three-hit, one-walk shutout going the distance, and the Pilgrims defense backed him up with its second straight errorless NLC outing as Plymouth stayed unbeaten in the conference with a 7-0 victory over visiting NorthWood at Bill Nixon Field Friday.
Scheetz allowed only seven total runners on base in a super-efficient 78 pitches as the Pilgrims got their second straight complete game after Richie Luva’s win over Wawasee Thursday.
Plymouth’s defense helped Scheetz wiggle out of a pair of jams with runners on third in the third and fifth as the Pilgrims recorded no errors and several highlight plays by Houston Hodges and Phil Iwinski in the outfield as well as Connor Flynn at second.
“We’ve been talking for the past week about our starting pitching, and Jordan followed suit with that tonight,” said Plymouth head baseball coach Tony Plothow. “This is a good team over there; they played really well in the conference and we knew that coming in. I think (Scheetz) did a really good job of keeping runners close when they got on base. Then we made the routine plays behind him, and we even made a couple special plays tonight.”
“Their pitcher did a nice job of changing speeds and keeping us a little bit off-balance,” said NorthWood head coach Zack Benko. “We had some guys that really hit the ball hard, and they made some great plays, particularly in the outfield.”
Scheetz moved to 3-1 on the year, an impressive start given the junior’s limited varsity experience at the start of the season, but not too surprising following a focused off-season last year.
“I worked hard in the offseason, and just got a lot of confidence,” said Scheetz. “I just thought I could do whatever, do good.”
While Plymouth’s defense shined, the NorthWood defense committed four errors to allow six unearned runs at the contest.
“There’s no way that we’re going to win a game when we give up four errors,” said Benko. “Like I told the guys, it’s a very good example of what you can do as a team when you have zero errors, and that’s kind of where we’re trying to get.”
The Pilgrims got off to a fast start at the plate with four runs in the bottom of the second. An intended sacrifice bunt from third baseman Joe Knapp back to Panthers starting pitcher Cole Page turned into two runs by shortstop Richie Luva and designated hitter Ike Kastner following a walk and error at first. Phil Iwinski grounded through the 5-6 gap for a single, first baseman Damon Howe drew an intentional walk to load the bags with two out, and catcher Kyle Cartwright doubled over the first baseman’s head to score both Knapp and Iwinski before NorthWood reliever Tanner Roberts could get out of the inning.
Kastner doubled and reached third on a wild pitch in the next frame, and scored on an Iwinski grounder to first to bring the score to 5-0. The Pilgrims recorded three hits and the Panthers gave up two errors in Plymouth’s final at-bat in the bottom of the sixth as Iwinski reached and eventually scored on a pair of infield errors, and Cartwright drove in Houston Hodges on a line single into left after Hodges beat out a throw to first for a single on a bunt back to the mound, stole second and moved to third when Flynn put a ball in play to short.
Plymouth put up six hits in the win and Cartwright went 2 for 3 officially with a walk and three RBI.
“I’m seeing the ball well right now,” said Cartwright, who batted in the number four spot for Plymouth Friday. “I started out in that leadoff spot and it changed things up on me a little bit, and I didn’t really feel comfortable there really. I’m seeing good pitches right now, and I’m hitting the ball pretty well.”
Friday’s win over NorthWood gave the Pilgrims a little breathing room at the top of the NLC standings as they moved to 4-0 in the conference and pushed the second-place Panthers to 3-2 in the process.
“We all knew this was a big game; we knew we had to win it,” Scheetz said. “This puts us two games ahead of everybody right now so we’re feeling real good in the conference.”
“We know where we’re at and it’s a little different than the last couple years,” said Plothow. “These guys are playing for something, and we know what we’re up against tomorrow over at Warsaw. Right now everybody is backed up so next week is another three games. Things can turn quickly in baseball, so hopefully the kids can continue to play with confidence and we can get some more good starting pitching.”
NorthWood falls below .500 overall at 3-4 on the year with the loss at Plymouth.
“We’re at a point in our season where we’re seeing that other teams are starting to get better, and we need to continue to get better in order to compete,” Benko said. “We definitely can’t be satisfied with where we are. We’ve got a couple of good conference wins under our belt, but it’s a long season so we’ve got to continue to play throughout and make sure that we bring it to the ball park every day.”
At Plymouth
NorthWood: 000 000 0 — 0 3 4
Plymouth: 041 002 X — 7 6 0
Jordan Scheetz (W, 3-1) and Kyle Cartwright; Cole Page, Tanner Roberts (L), Zech Manring (6) and Will Kirkwood.
2B: Kyle Cartwright(2B), Ike Kastner (P), Nate Wagner (N)
Records: Plymouth 8-3 (4-0 NLC), NorthWood 3-4 (3-2 NLC).