By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Hartland and Portage Northern both entered the 2015 Division 1 baseball championship game as frequent contenders, but both pursuing their first Finals title on the diamond.
Over the last five seasons, both have gone on to claim what previously had been elusive – but a 10-inning marathon decided which program would celebrate first.
On the arm of pitcher John Baker, and thanks to Brett Oliver’s game-winning drive up the hill in right field at McLane Stadium, Hartland earned that privilege with a 2-1 win over the Huskies.
Richard Bortle had led off the 10th inning for Hartland, setting up the eventual blast by the ninth-hitting Oliver. Baker, meanwhile, threw all 10 innings and struck out 11 while giving up only five hits. He also drove in the game’s first run, in the bottom of the first inning.
“Getting over the Quarterfinal hump was huge for our program because we’ve been getting there, we’ve been pretty successful,” said Hartland coach Brian Morrison that day, referring to how his team had made the Quarterfinals four times in seven seasons. “We kept knocking on the door and finally broke through. You get here and anything can happen.”
Portage Northern enjoyed a similarly-strong eight innings from its starter, Tommy Henry, who gave up just the first run while striking out eight. The Huskies did earn their first baseball championship last year, defeating Rockford in the title game.
Click for coverage of the 2015 Final from Second Half and watch the game winner below from the NFHS Network.