PREP BASEBALL: Urbanski adds the insurance in Northridge's 4-1 win over Mishawaka

Apr. 26—MIDDLEBURY — Friday nights rain refused to relent for almost the entirety of a crucial Northern Lakes battle between homestanding Northridge and visiting Mishawaka at Jayco Field.

The leaky sky took a short break right at the end, and Northridge senior second baseman Jack Urbanski used the pause of precipitation to connect on a crucial base-knock in the Raiders 4-1 win over the Cavemen.

"All season we've been lacking a big hit and we've needed it," Urbanski said following the win. "We haven't been great in big spots and I look for these at-bats; I love these at-bats because I know the whole team needs me to get a hit and I'm just happy I got that hit."

Mishawaka (7-5, 4-2 NLC) dropped from first place in the conference standings with the loss. Northridge (6-6, 3-3 NLC) evened their season standing.

The visitors brought home a run in the top of the sixth to cut Northridge's lead to just one. After a tough grounder to Mishawaka's Tyler Thomas off the bat of Northridge's Luke Mann was ruled an error on the third baseman, Raiders catcher Kaiden Miller used a sacrifice bunt to push Mann over to second base with one out in the bottom half of the sixth inning.

Brody Wood worked a walk and one-hole hitter Brecken Gawthrop pushed both runners over on a 6-3 groundout. Urbanski, in the silence of no rain hitting the bleachers, padded the lead with his two-RBI single to the front porch of right-center field.

"It's huge, it's huge just for team confidence," said Northridge coach Chad Gerard about the clutch hit and finally being able to come through with the opportunity to add some insurance. "We know we can tell these guys 'we're in games, we're in games, ball drops here, ball drops there and all of a sudden it's a totally different ball game' but to actually live it and do it just kind of proves it and means a whole lot more."

To close the game, Northridge's standout from the hill, J.T. Tabor pounded the strike zone to cut down Mishawaka in order to give Tabor the complete game.

Tabor, a junior for the Raiders, moved his record to 2-1 this season. Tabor hurled 115 pitches through seven innings, allowing just three hits, walking four and giving up just one run through the saturated afternoon at the ballpark.

"Phenomenal, phenomenal," said Gerard about Tabor's effort on the mound. "You can't say enough good things about that kid. He went out all over the strike zone, made the pitches when he had too. [He] got into a little bit of trouble in the sixth but worked through it and got out of it and he just did a great job in the seventh of getting two pop-fly's and a groundball."

Mishawaka, with two outs and a runner on second in the sixth, ran themselves out of a possible run when Cooper Pritchett was caught stealing third on the pitch. Miller's throw from home plate was squeezed by Kam Radeker who applied the tag to Pritchett's chest sliding in.

Tabor with the bases cleared walked three consecutive batters before a single drove in the visitors lone run. Tabor came into the night with just four walks on the season.

"Oh man, he's amazing," Urbanski said about the Raiders' starter Friday afternoon. "You know he's going to throw strikes all over the zone. You love playing for pitchers like that.

Urbanski batted 1-2, scoring three runs on a sacrifice fly in the second inning and the two-run single in the sixth. Gawthrop gave the Raiders their first score after his RBI single over the opposing shortstop landed, scoring Mann who reached on a walk.

Northridge totaled six hits and committed one error. Mishawaka notched three hits, committed a trio of errors by the left side of the infield.

When heavy rain began to take over in the second inning, the softball field next door to the Raiders baseball diamond called the game off as bleachers and dugouts cleared. A brief discussion by both umpires in the baseball game pondered the decision to call the game off. The teams decided to play on after the short meeting.

Northridge's approach at the plate worked to their advantage. Working long counts and protecting the outside portion of the plate put Mishawaka starter Brady Gallo in a precarious position, throwing 59 pitches through the first two innings.

He would end up throwing 5 1/3 innings, allowing four hits, walking six and giving up four runs — two of which were earned.

"Better," said Gerard on his team's job in the batter's box. "We took a very intentional approach to owning the outer half of the plate today that we talked about in practice and we just talked about it after the game today. If we own the outer half of the plate, we knew we were going to win."

Both teams turned identical 4-6-3 double plays in the fourth inning. Northridge turned it in a crucial spot when Mishawaka had runners at first and second and nobody out. The grounder up the right side was corralled by Urbanski who fired to shortstop Kyle Walther at second base, getting the second out at first when Collin Yoder squeezed the glove.

"That's huge, that took all the pressure off of us out in the field to go two-on, nobody out to one on and two outs is a huge thing," Gerard said on the play.

Warsaw now takes sole possession of the conference race after beating Concord 5-0 Friday. Mishawaka sits second with NorthWood at 4-2. The Minutemen (3-2) trail in fourth place a half-game behind the Cavemen and Panthers. Northridge, at 3-3 sits alone in fifth. Goshen's game against Wawasee was left unfinished due to the rain. The RedHawks are 2-3 and the Warriors 1-4 in conference play.

Northridge returns to the diamond Saturday, hosting both Elkhart and Chesterton in a doubleheader.

Reach Matt Lucas at 574-533-2151, ext. 240325, or at