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NorthWood destroys Lakeland in Sectional final

The Lakeland baseball team’s dream of winning its first sectional championship in nine years quickly melted in a nightmarish first inning Monday morning in Syracuse.

NorthWood sent 10 batters to the plate in the opening frame, seven of whom completed the circuit around the bases. From there, the Panthers cruised to a 14-0 victory over the Lakers to clinch their fifth consecutive 3A sectional crown.

Matt Dutkowski’s double down the right-field line drove in the first two NorthWood runs. A Lakeland error, a RBI single by Payton Bear and a two-run triple by Sawyer Warren completed the barrage.

Dutkowski and Bear each finished the game with three hits and two RBI. Brant Mast doubled twice and plated a pair of markers. Warren and Travis Stephenson both had two hits and two RBI.

Isaiah Lehman and Hunter Frost had the two Laker hits off winning hurler Drake Gongwer, who struckout eight and walked three.

NorthWood, now 24-1, will play Fort Wayne Concordia in the semifinals of the 3A regional at Bellmont.

The loss ended the Laker campaign with a 10-19 record.

Lakeland reached the title tilt by virtue of wins over NECC rivals Fairfield and West Noble.

A four-run outburst in the top of the sixth inning propelled the Lakers to a 6-4 victory over Fairfield in last Thursday’s opening round. Frost, Lehman and Kole Miller each drove in a run with singles, while Britain Isaacs, Drew Grossman and Nolan Isaacs drew bases-loaded walks.

Grossman pitched the first six innings to earn the win and Miles Mast came on the seventh to notch a save.

Coach Mike Isaacs’ crew walloped West Noble, 11-1 in the semifinal round Saturday. Lehman led the nine-hit Laker attack with a pair of singles and a RBI. Caleb Wadsworth belted a two-run single, while Frost, Dylan Dunn, Britain Isaacs, Kyler Bowers and Nolan Isaacs all had RBI singles. Grossman collected two RBI on bases-loaded walks.

Frost and Mast combined for the pitching win. They gave up four hits, struckout four and walked three.

NorthWood beat Wawasee, 11-4 in the other semifinal contest.