The rewards for three years of hard work and program development under manager Matt Brumbaugh were plentiful for the Northrop baseball team Tuesday afternoon.
Senior Tyler Huth threw his first no-hitter of his high school career to lead the Bruins to an 11-1 victory in five innings over South Side, earning the program's first Summit Athletic Conference championship since 2001.
The sixth-ranked Bruins are now 12-1 in the SAC and 20-2 overall, a significant improvement from the 13-15 finish in Brumbaugh's first season in 2011.
“There has been a lot of hard work put in by these guys and the coaches,” Brumbaugh said. “Coaches have done a great job preparing them and the players have come to work every day.
“They wanted to put their stamp on Northrop baseball; this is a good stamp winning the conference.”
The seven current seniors were just sophomores in Brumbaugh's first season. The Bruins finished two games under .500 but did finish second in the SAC that year with a roster that included nine seniors.
The progression from then to now has been steady for the players individually and the program as a whole.
“I was on the team as a sophomore but got sent down to junior varsity for awhile because I wasn't doing my job,” Huth said. “Now, I am doing my job.”
Huth sure did his job Tuesday. After some initial wildness that saw a run score on a passed ball in the first, the 6-foot-8 senior was spectacular on the mound. He finished with nine strikeouts, five of which came in the final two innings. In the bottom of the fifth he struck out the side to end the game.
“I don't think he had his best stuff tonight, but he battled and that was important,” Brumbaugh said of Huth. “He just came out and found ways to get batters out and he did a great job for us.”
Huth also knocked in the eventual winning run with a two-run double in the top of the first.
“My goal was to work down in the zone with a lot of their hitters because they are fastball hitters,” Huth said. “I had a little control issue at the beginning of the game, but I figured it out.”
Northrop is overjoyed to win the conference but has plenty of tests still looming, including today against Class 3A No. 2 Norwell. Sectionals are set to begin next week.
“We are excited about (the postseason),” said Brumbaugh, whose team will look to earn the program's first sectional championship since 2004. “But we want to finish strong with this season first.”