With the postseason less than a week away, Northville pitcher Ian Borthwick had a stellar outing Wednesday, pitching the Mustangs to a 3-1 win over Brighton in the KLAA Association baseball championship game.
“He was absolutely fantastic,” Northville coach John Kostrzewa said. “Everything I hoped he would be today. He was pitching to contact, he threw pitches where he was supposed to throw them. Couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Borthwick kept the Bulldogs at bay until the seventh inning, scattering eight hits and working out of trouble consistently.
“He was keeping us off-balance, getting us to swing at bad pitches,” losing pitcher Colin McClelland said. “His defense played really well for him, and that’s a good combo.”
It proved a winning combo for the Mustangs (26-2), who completed an undefeated season in KLAA play. Northville went 16-0 in the Kensington crossover games before beating Plymouth on Monday for the conference title, 6-2.
McClelland pitched out of trouble all afternoon, but the Mustangs were helped by both the sun and their infield, while the Bulldogs (23-6-1) couldn’t score until Tanner Hoard singled in Alexx Zielinski in the seventh.
Northville scored its first run in the third inning when Tyler Lowe hit a ball high into the sky to right field, where Hoard was waiting.
“I saw it off the bat,” Hoard said. “I was tracking it and I totally lost it.”
The ball landed behind him, and in the interim Northville’s Zach Prystach scored from second.
In the fourth, Kevin Morrissey singled, and, with one out, Steve Grosz hit what Brighton coach Charlie Christner called “a tailor-made double-play ball” to shortstop Jerad Dokey.
It was, that is, until it hit something and bounced up, hitting Dokey in the mouth and putting runners on first and second.
The game was delayed nearly 10 minutes while Dokey was attended to. He stayed in the game.
Two batters later, Northville’s Dugan Darnell hit a blast to the wall in right field. Both runners scored on the play, but Hoard threw a strike to second baseman Trevor Hopman, who threw another strike to Carson Hopman at third to nail Darnell, who was trying to stretch a double into a triple.
The Bulldogs had their opportunities.
Justin Steele led off the second with a triple, but was stranded. Brighton had runners on first and second with one out in the fifth, only to hit into a double play.
“We hit the ball hard,” Christner said, “but not in the areas where we needed to.”
And that, in the end, was the difference. Borthwick, meanwhile, kept the Bulldogs guessing with curves and a slow change that made his fastball that much more effective.
“The curve was on point today,” the senior right-hander said. “It was the best it’s been all season. It couldn’t have come at a better time.”
The teams meet again in Tuesday’s Division 1 pre-district game at Brighton, which will see one of the teams’ seasons end early.
“Every time you step on the field, you want to go out and win,” Christner said. “It didn’t happen today, but we get to play them on Tuesday. They’re looking forward to it, and we’re looking forward to it. It should be another good effort from both sides.”