Alex Brockman never knew a season without a district title.
The Hughesville native, Northwest’s only senior, joined the Mustangs in head coach Justin Wiksur’s second season.
Brockman’s high school career ended Tuesday in a 5-0 loss to New Covenant in the Class 1 Missouri State Baseball Tournament, securing a third-place finish. He said he was proud of his school and team after a 20-10 season and a second consecutive final four appearance.
“I would not trade my school for any school,” Brockman said. “Even the winning state champions, I’ll still be N-W for the rest of my life. That’s where I want my kids to go, honestly.”
In Northwest’s more immediate future, things are looking up. Wiskur was upbeat despite the loss, citing a worthy opponent and quality effort.
“We made them beat us,” Wiskur said of New Covenant. “We didn’t beat ourselves this year, here. We made them beat us. And it sucks, we’re going to be thinking about it for a while, but I tell you what I’m going to be able to sleep a lot better this year – after this – than last year, because we made them earn it.”
Last year, the Mustangs lost 11-1 to Bell City in the state semifinals. Northwest committed a handful of errors and Bell City went on to win the tournament.
This year, Northwest fell behind early, but was never buried by New Covenant ace Cody Malan. He entered the game undefeated, averaging about 11 strikeouts per game.
Malan reached base in the first, beating out a double play. C.J. Fernelius scored Malan’s courtesy runner, Ryan Carmack, on a single. Ian Poe lined to Garren Powell in centerfield, who could only stop the ball in front of him before Josha Isbell scored.
New Covenant’s starter led off the third with a triple that tailed away from a diving Chandler Crosswhite in right field. Fernelius picked up his second RBI of the day two batters later. Alan Ramsey made it 5-0 with an RBI single that skipped into right field.
The Warriors scored each of their runs on Rylan Chamberlin. He walked one batter in the fourth before Connor Tichenor at shortstop swapped him positions.
Tichenor followed his fellow freshman with four scoreless innings. He surrendered two hits and a walk.
Malan pitched a complete game, 4-hit shutout. He struck out five and walked four. Lincoln stranded 10 runners during the game.
Powell, the leadoff hitter, walked twice and struck out once. He said Northwest’s lineup played admirable.
“He had some good speed,” Powell said. “We know the kid’s good. He had a good off-speed curveball, we knew that was going to be there. I thought we did a good job putting the bat on the ball. Just, when we did hit it hard, it was right at them. And they’re the kind of team that’s going to make that play.”
Four freshmen started for Northwest, and Powell was one of two juniors. They’re a young team with a bright future and a third-place finish in state. Powell said he looks forward to representing Hughesville at the highest level again.
“Everybody looks forward to it,” Powell said. “The kids that don’t play football and basketball, all they say during the winter is, ‘When’s baseball? When’s baseball?’ everybody loves it, you know? There’s just an overall feeling that it’s our sport.”
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2