Coach Gary Witham didn't let any one member of the Northview Knights' high school baseball team take the blame for the 6-4 loss in extra innings to the Class 3A No.1-ranked Sullivan Golden Arrows on Tuesday night.
"We made some base running mistakes, but also in those first three innings we had guys in scoring position and we didn't knock them in. We've got to take advantage of our opportunities and we didn't take advantage of our opportunities early. Then we made some mistakes late and it cost us a game. Against a good team that's going to happen," Witham said.
The Knights made three errors in the field and two mental errors on the bases while losing for the first time in conference play. The loss also snapped a six-game winning streak.
"I knew [the Golden Arrow] were going to be pretty tough. You got to give them a lot of credit."
Sullivan scored two runs in the eighth inning when Korey Grow, the winning pitcher, led off with a walk and Brian Jones ripped a triple to the 355-mark in right-center field. Jones scored on a relay throwing error.
Northview loaded the bases in the bottom of the eight with two out, but Sullivan's Larry Swain, on in relief of Grow, picked a runner off first base to end the game.
It was a sudden ending to a showdown between two stated-ranked programs
trying to win the Western Indiana Conference championship. Going into the rematch at 7 p.m. today at Sullivan, Northview, ranked 13th in Class 4A, is 6-1 in conference play and Sullivan stands 5-0.
Northview's Nick Wells (1-1) pitched 71/3 innings before being relieved by Brady Shoemaker in the eighth inning. The sophomore righthander gave up six runs on seven hits, struckout 10 and walked three and hit one batter in his second decision of the season.
"I thought [Wells] did a great job. If he continues to pitch like that he's going to win a lot of games," Witham said.
Sullivan's Korey Grow, who pitched six innings on Saturday, was just as tough as Wells.
In seven innings, he allowed four runs, five hits, struckout 13 and walked six.
"The Grow kid pitched his heart out coming off short rest like he did. I was a little disappointed our hitters didn't step up better than they did. Our hitting could have been better, even though [Grow] does a good job we should have hit him better," Witham said.
Shoemaker, Ryan Nees and Shawn Hughes led Northview's offense with two hits each. Shoemaker had a triple in the first, but was stranded on base. Nees belted a run-scoring double in the sixth inning. Hughes' double put Northview in position to tie the game again in the eighth inning.
Nees led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and Hughes followed with a double. One out later, Graig Bass loaded the bases when the Sullivan catcher was called for interference. Sullivan relief pitcher Larry Swain struck out the next batter, then picked off a pinch-runner on first base to end the contest.
Sullivan took a 4-1 lead in the sixth on three hits. Northview had two runners on and no outs in the bottome of the sixth when a runner was picked off second base. Grow then struck out the batter and the rally appeared to be over.
But the Knights scored two runs on a double by Nees and a single from Hughes.
Northview tied the score 4-4 in the seventh when Shoemaker connected for a two-out single.
K. Grow, Swain (8) and Drew; Wells, Shoemaker (8) and Trout. WP -- Grow
(5-0). LP -- Wells (1-1). Sv -- Swain. LOB -- Sul. 5, Nv 8. 3B -- Jones, Shoemaker. 2B -- Noble, Swain, Nees, Hughes, Jason Johnson.
Next game: On Wednesday, Northview (10-3, 6-1WIC) travels to Sullivan (14-1, 5-0 in WIC) for a 7 p.m. game