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Four-run sixth pushes Norwell over Ole Miss

INDIANS: Mississinewa sophomore Landen Swanner delivers a pitch in the Indians' 7-4 loss to Norwell Tuesday in Gas City.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

GAS CITY – It's been a rough start to the season for a very young Mississinewa baseball team but the Indians are getting better seemingly each time on the field.

Unfortunately for Ole Miss, improvement has yet to yield any wins.

Ole Miss faced its second potential sectional opponent in a row on Tuesday, welcoming Norwell to Gas City, and doubled its run total for the season. But a four-run sixth inning by the Knights was too much to overcome and Norwell earned a 7-4 win over the Indians.

“It has been brutal schedule and a brutal opening for us. We're on the tail end of that and we've played some very, very good teams,” said Mississinewa coach Mike Scott. “What excites me the most is these kids don't care about the record at all. They know there is something much bigger in all this.

“They know they have to come in every practice and every game and put the time in to get better,” he continued. “Every game they are seeking something to get better in which is incredibly exciting for me.”

Mississinewa has just three seniors on its roster and through their first five games Scott said he's had five to seven freshmen and sophomores on the field together.

“That's going to pay off. First game they were very nervous and with each game that's gone away little by little...the sky's the limit for them,” Scott said. “They have to stick with this approach and this process and know they have to get better every game.”

Mississinewa scored first, turning a Tyler Jakob leadoff walk into a run without benefit a hit.

Norwell used three hits and hit batsmen to answer with three runs in the top of the fourth.

Holden Brown's RBI single scored Colin Yoder in the bottom of the fifth to cut the Norwell lead to, 3-2.

But the Knights got two singles to lead off the sixth and a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt allowed both runners to score and put a runner on third. The Knights would scored twice more to extent their advantage to, 7-2.

Seth Maddox drew a walk and Carson Campbell followed with a single to start the Ole Miss sixth inning, and both moved up bases on a wild pitch. Cade Campbell followed with an RBI sacrifice fly and a Norwell throwing error allowed a second run to score to make it 7-4.

Freshman Luke Bennett, who relieved sophomore Landen Swanner in the sixth for Mississinewa, retired Norwell in order in the seventh.

With two outs in the bottom of the frame, Brown drew a walk and Swanner singled to bring Maddox to the plate with the tying run, but he flew out to right field to end the game.

Scott said there were a lot of positives to his team's performance on Tuesday.

“I continue to see good defensive plays,” he said. “There's some situational things we need to clean up and get better on … on the mound we're competing, we're getting ahead in counts which is important. We don't have that big high velocity guy that's going to be able to dominate a hitter.”

Swanner pitched 5.2 innings and gave up eight hits and issued five walks with two strikeouts and five earned runs.

“He's one of our best that can get it up there (fast) but he's still gonna rely on other pitches,” Scott said of Swanner. “Especially to get through seven innings. When you face an order three times, you have to have something a little different and Landen does. The better defense we play means he can extend and go later into a game.”

Norwell out hit Ole Miss, 8-7. Seven different Indians had singles. Brown, a freshman, reached base three times with two walks and a hit. Sophomore Kreigh Young was on twice with a single and he reached on an error.

“If we can pitch it and we can defend we and play smart situational baseball then we'll have a lot of success,” Scott said.

He also thinks his young team is growing in confidence despite having yet to find the win column.

“They took away from (defending sectional champion) Jay County, being involved in a three-run game with them and they took it away from this game,” Scott said, noting the 4-0 loss to the Patriots on Saturday. “You take away a couple of situational errors and this is a completely different game and they know that. They know if they clean that up the next game is going to be entirely different.”

Mississinewa (0-5) travels to Peru on Thursday then hosts Southwood on Friday and goes to Northwestern on Saturday.