Huskies top Warriors in Wet and Wild Thriller
By John Burbridge
ROCKFORD — The Class 1A-District 5 baseball semifinal pitting Nashua-Plainfield against Rockford Tuesday night had all the elements and then some of a classic elimination game featuring two conference rivals.
There were extra innings … a stunning rally to force extra innings … 180-, 360- and 540-degree momentum swings … intermittent showers as well as a played-through downpour … no lightning but plenty of thunder as the teams pounded out a combined 33 hits — 11 for extra bases — and plated 29 runs.
The game even had a COVID-19 backstory.
After 10 innings and more than three-and-a-half hours, the N-P Huskies emerged victorious in a football-like 15-14 final.
Players from both sides displayed gutsy performances, but perhaps none more gutsy than from Husky junior Kristian Holmvig, who drove in what would be the winning run in the top half of the 10th inning. It was Holmvig’s fourth hit and second RBI of the long night.
Holmvig also picked up the win for his three-and-a-third innings of relief from which he yielded 1 run and struck out three.
The game nearly ended in the bottom of the ninth when a wayward throw back to the mound got away from Holmvig with the winning run at third base. When Holmvig turned to retrieve the ball, he turned his ankle.
After walking it off while releasing a little steam — Holmvig was clearly mad about earlier giving up the tying run and was in no way receptive to the idea of leaving the game — Holmvig eventually got the third out with the Warrior runner stranded at third.
Husky leadoff man Sam Fundermann had two hits including a bases-loaded triple to chase home 3 runs; Shane Hillesheim had two hits including a double, and drove in 3 runs; and Max Hillegas had two hits and 3 RBIs for Nashua-Plainfield, which had leads of 10-4, 13-6 and 13-7 going into the bottom of the seventh before the Warriors rallied for 6 runs when the game’s scattered rainfall was at its heaviest.
Rockford senior Brett Hansen capped the game-tying rally with his second double of the game driving in the Warriors’ 13th run.
Trey Norby had four hits including two doubles, and 3 RBIs; Landen Arends had four hits; and Justice Jones and Kole Menne each had three hits including two doubles for Rockford, which advanced to district semis when its quarterfinal opponent, North Butler, had to forfeit due to COVID-19 exposure.
The game was shrouded by low-hanging clouds. As the night progressed, outfielders from both teams were having great difficulty in tracking balls hit high into the canopy-like murky sky which made every flyball an adventure.
It would have been a tough game to lose for the Huskies, but it proved to be an even tougher game to win. Though the team aptly celebrated its victory, several Husky players were still seething a little for not putting the Warriors away in “regulation”.
“I know some of you guys are a little angry about the way this game went with all the ups and downs,” Nashua-Plainfield head coach Levi Miller said to his team after the game, “but you guys were able to fight back and win it. Now we get to play for a district championship.”
The Huskies (10-5) advance to face Saint Ansgar (14-3) at Saint Ansgar in the district final (Class 1A-Substate 3 semifinal) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The two Top of Iowa-East Conference teams previously met during the regular season where the Saints won 7-4.