DECATUR -- On a long afternoon when arms mostly failed their owners, Luke Palmer saved his best work for 60-feet, 6-inches away from the pitcher’s mound.
Bishop Dwenger’s starting pitcher Saturday afternoon lasted three innings before departing the bump, having yielded five runs to Norwell on seven hits by that time. But after that, his bat did the talking, and when it was finished the Saints (18-11) had silenced the Knights (18-9) 11-9 in the second 3A baseball regional semifinal here.
That sets up a showdown with Yorktown (17-12), a 6-3 winner over NorthWood (21-6) in the other semifinal, in the championship game at 8 p.m. tonight.
Palmer and his bat are a big reason why, as he went 3 for 4, drove in four runs and scored two on a wild punch-up that saw the Saints and Knights combine for 20 runs, 25 hits, four wild pitches, a passed ball, a hit batsmen and six errors.
The Saints trailed 4-2 after two innings and 5-3 after three, but then Palmer happened. He took Norwell starter Alex Hunter deep to left-center with a man on and one out in fourth to it at 5-5, then smoked a two-RBI single in the fifth, when it all unraveled for the Knights.
The inning began with Dwenger’s Dalton O’Boyle reaching on a throwing error on a routine grounder into the hole, and then it got worse for Norwell. Another fielding error, a hit batsmen, two base hits and a base on balls later, the Saints had sent nine batters to the plate and scored five runs to turn a back-and-forth game into a blowout.
Norwell got a run back in its half of the fifth, scored two more in the sixth and added another in the seventh, but Dwenger countered with another run in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by Justin Wagner and Cam Kahlenbeck.
O’Boyle did the rest, scattering six hits across four innings in relief to pick up the victory.