An 11-run fourth inning rally helped North to snap a four-game losing skid and beat rival South on Sunday at Classic Park, 12-2.
The Rangers fell behind 2-0 before responding with a big inning and adding another run in the fifth to invoke the run rule.
“It was awesome,” said North coach Kyle Stahlberg. “We hit a tough stretch there but that’s baseball. These guys are confident in what they’ve been doing and what we’ve been practicing. If they keep focused and just go out there and do what we’ve been working on, they’re going to be just fine.”
North opened the season with 10 straight wins but entered Sunday’s rivalry game on a four-game losing streak.
The Rebels looked to extend that streak when they scored two runs in the top of the fourth.
North didn’t flinch.
Instead, the Rangers used five hits, five walks, and two hit batsmen to take an 11-2 lead after four innings.
“We had gotten through the lineup once completely facing their first pitcher,” Stahlberg said. “He was solid, one of their best, and he was really, really good the first time through. He was still good but I think the guys tried to simplify their approach a little bit. We talked about that in-between innings, to simplify their approach and make them work. They executed that perfectly. It was awesome to see them take that in and then do it.”
John Lanning singled to start the rally.
C.J. Newman followed with a single and Matt Barner drew a walk to load the bases. Trent Bucy then walked and Devo Britsky reached on a fielder’s choice as the Rebels opted to throw out the lead runner at the plate. Joey Skolny then walked to reload the bases and John Keough was hit by a pitch to score another run.
Brody Spock singled and Nate Stuck walked to bring Lanning up for the second time in the inning.
He singled again to give North a 6-2 lead.
“After South scored, we had made our first run through the lineup and we all saw what the pitcher was dealing us,” Lanning said. “I led off and just focused on taking the ball to right field. Hitting is very contagious on this team and I truly feel when if I start the game or inning off strong, the rest of the guys continue it and we stack the runs.”
Barner was hit by a pitch and Bucy and Britsky both singled to push the North lead to 11-2.
“Their pitcher was really, really good those first few innings,” Stahlberg said. “What we tried to do is make the zone a little bit smaller. When he threw to that spot, we hit it, and when it was outside of that spot, we got a little bit more selective and got some walks out of it. They took advantage of some opportunities that inning and exploded. That was a lot of fun. We haven’t had an inning like that all year, so it was a lot of fun to do it there in front of everybody.”
After Barner shut the Rebels down in order in the fifth, the Rangers scored a run in the bottom half of the inning to end the game.
Keogh drew a leadoff walk and scored on Lanning’s two-out single.
“It felt good to end that game a little bit early, especially when it’s a rival,” said Lanning, who finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI. “The job’s not done though; we still play them one more time and have to finish off the series with another win.”
Barner went the distance for the Rangers.
He allowed two earned runs on five hits and struck out one.
“He’s solid,” Stahlberg said of Barner. “He had two outs and made an 0-2 mistake and that’s how they got their runs that inning. You take one pitch away and he probably holds them scoreless for the day. He was solid and the thing you love with Barner is there were a lot of people there today and screaming; it was an excitable atmosphere. It would have been easy, especially after you give up a run like that, to feel the pressure but he’s a bulldog and he just doesn’t care. That’s one of the awesome things about Barner, he just doesn’t care. He goes out there and grinds.”
North (11-4) hosts Kenston on Monday.