May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Northwood ends regular season with big win and ends Beckman’s hopes of sharing PCL title

Northwood seniors (left to right) Chris Nagoya, Ryan Lin, Brandon Chu, Cal Euper, Jon Cilderman and Ethan Chen celebrated senior day with a victory. (Photos OC Sports Zone, Tom Connolly).

With the CIF baseball playoffs set to begin next week, Northwood is hitting its peak at the right time and heading to the post season with a full head of steam.

Freshman starter Paul Grossman pitched four scoreless innings and reliever Jon Cilderman closed out the final three innings as the Timberwolves defeated Beckman 5-3 in the final Pacific Coast League regular season for both teams game Thursday afternoon at Northwood.

Grossman displayed poise as he yielded only two hits, struck out five and walked three before leaving the game after facing one batter in the top of the fifth. Cilderman, a sidewinding right hander, came on, and despite giving up three runs in the sixth inning, held on to secure the win for Northwood.

It marked the first time in eight years that Northwood (13-15, 10-8) has won a season series (wining two of three) from Beckman. Northwood prevented Beckman from sharing the team title with Woodbridge, which defeated Laguna Hills 6-2 on Thursday. Woodbridge and Beckman came into the game tied for the top spot.

Beckman finished second and Northwood third.

“I wasn’t nervous; I wanted to give our team the best chance to win,” said Grossman, who earned the win. “We’re hot right now. Our hitting and pitching are going to make us a rough team to beat.”

The Timberwolvess broke on top in the second inning by scoring three runs, highlighted by a RBI double by Rylan Littlejohn and a two-run, two-run single from Eugene Miyata.

“I knew I had to get a base hit and I remained calm,” Miyata said. “It feels good to knock them (Beckman) out of the top spot, and we’re on a roll and on fire right now.”

To see additional photos, click on the first picture:

The Timberwolves added two insurance runs in the fifth inning when Nick Keith singled in two runs with a two-out single, upping Northwood’s lead to 5-0. Keith was called up from the JV team two weeks ago after battling a back injury for the past two years.  

“I knew their pitcher didn’t know who I was, so I was looking for a fastball and I got one,” said Keith, referring to his only at bat of the game in the fifth inning. “We are a hot team right now and we’re going to the playoffs with confidence.”  

The Patriots (20-8, 14-4) battled back and loaded the bases in the sixth inning. Jackson Snitko drilled a two-out, two-run single and Maddex Soto added an RBI single to close the gap to 5-3.  

But Cilderman retired Cameron Do-Khanh on a pop out to end Beckman’s sixth inning rally and then he shut down the Patriots in the seventh to close out the win.

“It was a special victory but it was the loudest environment I’ve ever pitched in and they (Beckman) were yelling that they wanted to ruin our senior day,” said Cilderman. “It’s a cool win because we haven’t done that well against Beckman in the past and we prevented them from winning league.”

Northwood Coach Doug Euper was pleased with the team’s effort and win. 

“I couldn’t be prouder of these guys, especially since we started the season 1-8 and 1-4 in league,” said Euper. “After a rough start, I thought maybe we’re too young and our expectations were too high, but these guys turned it around.”

Despite winning 20 games and missing their ninth PCL title by a single game, Patriots coach Kevin Lavalle said his team is struggling.

“We’re playing bad baseball right now, and playing timid,” Lavalle said. “We’re scratching our heads on how we’ve played over the past three weeks. We have to get better.”  

Northwood seniors (Ciderman, Ethan Chen, Chris Nagoya, Cal Euper, Ryan Yin and Brandon Chu) were honored in a short ceremony before the game.

—Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone