There was only one way that Northmont could top its historic program-defining defeat of previously unbeaten Mason: Beat mighty Moeller.
Moeller scored nine runs in the bottom of the third inning to break open a tight game and cruise to an 11-3 rain-delayed defeat of Northmont in a Division I regional high school baseball final at the University of Cincinnati on Friday night.
“I wouldn’t be shocked at all if they won it all,” said losing pitcher Troy Mangen (4-3), a senior who’s headed to Ohio University to play football. “That’s a great team and they deserve to be there.”
It was a daunting task for Northmont (23-8), which recorded its first regional win in program history by stunning top-ranked Mason 6-1 in Thursday’s semifinals.
Northmont was trying to become only the ninth area team since 1966 to advance to the big-school final four. Miamisburg was the last to do that in 2006.
Others were Vandalia Butler (2000), Troy (’90), Beavercreek (’76), Chaminade Julienne (’75), Fairmont East (’71, second), Chaminade (’70, first) and Fairmont West (’66, first).
Instead, Moeller (29-2) will take a 17-game win streak into its ninth final four and will meet Aurora in a state semifinal on Friday at Huntington Park in Columbus.
Moeller is the defending D-I state champion and has won six state titles in all. The Crusaders have crushed five postseason foes a combined 62-6 and should be a strong favorite to defend its title.
Tied at 2-all, Moeller made a mess of Mangen (4-3) and relievers Alex Farlow and Dustin Easton in the third. Of those nine T-Bolt deflating runs, seven came with two outs.
Other than signaling the end to Northmont’s season, the fateful inning included another landmark: Moeller’s Max Foley was caught stealing twice for the second and third outs.
“You know going into the tournament that you do not want to give up crooked numbers,” said veteran Northmont coach Chuck Harlow, in his 29th season with the Thunderbolts. “And my gosh, we gave up a big one. They put it on us pretty good.”
Mangen had a couple hits. He and Austin Sanders each pounded run-scoring doubles. But it wasn’t near enough offense against winner Zach Logue (7-1).
“What a run,” Harlow added. “We talk to the kids all the time about representing their families, representing their maker and their community. I couldn’t be prouder.”