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Noxon-Thompson Falls co-op baseball home opener

by CHUCK BANDEL
Valley Press | April 17, 2024 12:00 AM

This was a scene worthy of an advertisement for America.

A bright sunny day, with a hint of a chill in the air.

Baseball players warming up on a field worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Que the bald eagles for the fly by. There they are.

Play ball.

With that, the Noxon-Thompson Falls co-op baseball team took to the field for the first high school baseball game in Noxon. It was held at the mountain and forest encircling Pilgrim Creek Park. Where else?

Polson, the defending state champions who came to town with a 7-1 season record, their only loss to Columbia Falls, a class A school like the Pirates, scored the first run in the town ballpark when a single by sophomore Cody Haggard resulted in a solo score via a wild pitch. But the Noxon-T Falls pitcher settled down before the sizable small town crowd that assembled among the bleachers in the nearby woods and limited the damage to 1-0 after the top of the first inning.

Then, the Red Devils (name of the co-op Noxon-T Falls team) got a double down the right field line from lead off batter Michael Koskela advanced to third on an infield hit by senior Sean Nowlan that kept Koskela on second. The pair then advanced on a double steal. Koskela scored the Red Devils first run at home when he scored on a passed ball, with Nowlan scampering down to third base. Nowlan came around on a wild pitch and for a wonderful baseball moment, the new kids on the block had a 2-1 lead over the state champs after one inning of play.

High school varsity baseball had come to Noxon.

In Polson’s at bat in the top of the second inning, a pair of doubles by the first two batters tied the game. The third batter up for the Pirates, Holden Emerson, laced a single just inside the baseline, scoring two more runs.

Before the inning was over the champs held a 6-2 advantage, as an eagle circled above the field and another flapped its wings in a large nest high up in a tree beyond the center field fence.

Once again Noxon pitching settled down and held the big boys at bay for the next two innings. Unfortunately, Polson pitching was also posting zeros on Red Devils hitters, keeping them off home plate the rest of the game.

Meanwhile, the Pirates kept hitting and running on multiple Noxon-T Falls wild pitches and passed balls. Polson plated three more runs in the top of the fifth to go up 9-2, then tacked on five more runs in the top of the sixth, putting the visitors up 14-2.

By rule, the Red Devils had one last chance at bat to narrow the scoring gap and extend the game, but they could not solve Polson pitching. The pirates put them down on a fly ball out, and a pair of strikeouts sandwiched around a hit batsman.

With that the first home game in Noxon came to a conclusion with Polson recording their eighth win of the season, 14-2. The loss dropped the Red Devils to 1-3 in their inaugural season. Their first victory was a road win over Mission in St. Ignatius.

Next up for Noxon-T Falls was a home game this afternoon (April 16) at 4 pm, then an appearance this Friday and Saturday in a tournament in Frenchtown.