Things felt so normal for Norwalk starting pitcher Justin Sommers on Tuesday that the junior didn’t even know what he had done until it was over.
Needing a win over visiting Sandusky to assure the Truckers of at least a share of the SBC Lake Division championship, Sommers threw a seven-inning no-hitter in his team’s 5-1 win.
Norwalk (16-8) finished 7-3 in league play to win its first league title since 2013. Bellevue (12-7, 6-3) can win a share of the title as well with a win over Sandusky on Thursday.
Sommers threw 97 pitches, including 56 for strikes. He struck out six batters and walked three, while two other Blue Streak runners reached on errors.
“I didn’t even know until we got through the handshake line and everyone started talking about it,” Sommers said of the no-hitter. “It feels great. The first two innings I was a little shaky, but I got my strikes going and everything got rolling from there.“
Sandusky got a five-pitch, leadoff walk from Daquaris Brown, who proceeded to steal second. He advanced to third on a passed ball, then scored on a ground out by Shonsai Aaron.
In the bottom of the first, the Truckers got Sommers two runs back that proved to be all he needed.
Nate Adelman drew a two-out walk, then scored on an RBI double to left field by Ian Minor to tie the game at 1-1. Sam Battles then followed up with an RBI single that scored Minor for a 2-1 advantage.
The score remained 2-1 until the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Truckers plated three more runs.
Minor led off the inning with a single, and Evan Gaston pinch ran for him. Sam Battles then singled to put runners on first and third, then stole second to move into scoring position.
Leighton Battles then laid down a squeeze bunt to the pitcher, allowing Gaston to score. An RBI ground out by Zach Keefer scored Sam Battles to make it 4-1, then Luke Weaver followed with an RBI single to score Leighton Battles for the 5-1 lead.
After his first inning walk and unearned run, Sommers retired 10 of the next 11 Sandusky batters in order — and 16 of 18 batters that lasted two outs into the final inning when the Streaks got a baserunner on an error.
“It felt like any other normal day,” Sommers said of his first no-hitter playing any level of baseball. “It’s great to help win a league title like that. We’ve all played together for years before we ever got to high school, so this is kind of us doing the same thing we’ve always done.”
Norwalk coach Wes Douglas said Sommers was composed, even after the early run.
“He didn’t pitch a lot early, but has been huge for us lately,” Douglas said. “We’re fighting an arm injury a little bit, and he’s really stepped in of late and done a nice job, capped by today. I’m really happy for him and all these young men.
“They’ve given us a lot, and I’m not sure they realize how important what they just did is,” he added. “But they will, and I’m just really proud of them and our coaches.”
The league title is the 10th in program history for the Truckers, including six under Douglas. It marks the first as members of the Sandusky Bay Conference.
“I could go on and on because I don’t want to leave anyone out, but it’s really been a team effort,” Douglas said. “We pitched to contact and played really well on defense, and we’ve gotten timely hits on offense.
“But it’s been a little bit from everyone, and they’ve just scrapped,” he added. “We haven’t blown a lot of teams out. We’ve had to fight for everything.”
One of the big sparks for the Truckers this season has been the emergence of junior Garrett Obringer. He entered Tuesday with a .387 average and added two more hits in the win. He was also a starter on the basketball team that won league and district titles.
“We’ve all played a lot of baseball together,” Garrett said. “The younger guys have played a lot of travel baseball and our junior class was strong. We were really upset about the Columbian loss last week, so we had a chip on our shoulder to beat Perkins and Sandusky. We’re feeling confident.”
Meanwhile, Obringer’s freshman brother, Eli, has also been one of numerous key underclassmen to step in and help Norwalk to a league title.
“It’s a chance that not many siblings get,” Eli said. “He’s put me under his wing and has been a good baseball teammate and a brother.
“The offseason was kind of crazy, because I’m used to playing the infield. But then in high school I’m in the outfield, which was a big change,” Eli added. “I kind of adapted to it. We all did. We played our roles, and now we’re SBC champs.
The Truckers host Mansfield Senior at 5 p.m. today in a Division II sectional semifinal matchup. Garrett Obringer will make his first start of the season, as Norwalk hopes to advance to Friday’s title game at Perkins for a third meeting against the Pirates.
Sandusky 100 000 0 — 1 0 0
Norwalk 200 003 x — 5 9 2
WP: Sommers; LP: Aaron
2B: (N) Minor