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PHN tops Port Huron, makes it back-to-back district titles WITH PHOTO GALLERY

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The champs have successfully defended their title.

For the second straight season, Port Huron Northern claimed the district championship, outlasting rival Port Huron 7-2 in the District 23 final Friday afternoon at Northern.

Riding the familiar formula of good pitching, solid defense and timely hitting, the Huskies totaled nine runs, and allowed just three, in wins over the Big Reds and L’Anse Creuse North — the latter in the semifinal.

“That’s what we’d hope to achieve, but obviously you’re playing against good ball clubs,” Northern head coach Bobby Kearns said if his team’s play Friday afternoon. “We were able to grind it out.”

Nick Trimble earned the victory for the Huskies (24-6; 12-3 MAC Blue) in the title game, allowing two runs on four hits over seven innings of work. The right-hander struck out seven and walked none.

“The guys did a tremendous job on the mound, and that’s what carried us all year long,” Kearns said of his pitching staff Friday. “We managed to close the door at the end, but it was a close game all the way through — a little too close for my nerves and these gray hairs growing here.”

Nate Wilson got the start for Port Huron, before being relieved by Curtis Corby.

The Huskies jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, on a Trimble two-run, two-out single in the bottom of the first. The lead would be short-lived, however, as the Big Reds responded with two of their own in the next half inning. Bryan Mihai started the rally with a leadoff single before coming around to score later in the frame. A John Flores single with two outs knotted the game at two.

Unfazed, Northern went right back to work in the third, reclaiming the lead on Austin Howard’s sac fly.

“That’s one of the keys to this team…their composure level,” Kearns said. “We’ve had a lot of comments about their maturity and their composure, and that goes to the kids.

“They have that, and you’ve got to have that in order to have success.”

PHN broke it open with a four-run sixth inning, despite tallying just two hits.

Trimble finished 2 for 3 with a RBI a run scored, while Brett Manis 2 for 3 and a walk in the victory.

Mihai went 1 for 3 with a run scored, and a stolen base, in the loss.

“We had a goal this year to be playing our best baseball at the end of the season,” Port Huron head coach Kyle Sheppard said. “I think, between last week and today especially, we did that.”

“I felt we competed…through five and a half innings it was a pretty good game. The wheels just kind of fell off at the end.”

Sheppard said he felt the key sequences in the game were leaving runners in scoring position in both the second and third innings.

“That’s the big thing, not being satisfied with tying it up,” he said. “Taking advantage of situations, and take a lead and give us some breathing room — that’s something we’ve done all year. We’ve started rallies and left guys at third.”

The Big Reds end the year with a 10-20 record, 6-9 in the MAC Blue. The Huskies advance to the Region 6 semifinal June 10 at Anchor Bay.

Last Updated: 6/2/2017 10:05:59 PM EST