CLINTON -- As a freshman, Ryan Nees hit a grand slam home run at South Vermillion High School for the Northview Knights. In his final game at Clinton on Tuesday, the Northview senior repeated the feat while leading the Knights to a 17-3 victory.
Nees hit a solo home run in the second inning to get the Knights going and a grand slam in the fourth when they pulled away. The No. 6-ranked Knights are 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the WIC.
"We just got to keep it up," Nees said of the conference record. "We were really slow getting started, but we came back. We just need to start getting on [opponents] early."
After a slow start, the Knights erupted for 15 runs on 11 hits in the fourth and fifth innings en route to the 10-run rule victory.
"(The slow start) was just what we were talking about [with the players]," Northview Coach Gary Witham said.
South Vermillion's Travis Capps hit a two-run home run in the first inning. Nees countered with a solos homer in the second, but the Wildcats led 3-2 after three innings.
"I didn't think we were patient enough early on, but we did hit the ball real well. We've got some hitters and they showed it tonight," Witham said.
Northview scored 17 runs on 13 hits, eight for extra bases. The Knights got at least one RBI out of eight positions in the batting order.
Northview sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth inning, scoring nine runs on five hits. Brady Shoemaker started the rally with a solo home run over the left field fence. Nees received a walk and raced around to score on a double by Graig Bass. Shawn Hughes singled to score Bass and moved around to third base on a hit by Craig Trout.
Trout's hit brought about a South Vermillion pitching change, Zach Williamson replacing starter Mitch Fisher. Wade Thacker, the first to face Williamson, lifted a fly ball into center field to score Hughes from third.
Jesse Johnson reached first on an error to keep the rally alive and Shane Cooper and Shoemaker received a walk to load the bases, setting the stage for Nees' grand slam.
The Knights put the game out of reach with a six-run fifth. Cooper belted a triple into the left-center field gap, Johnson and Mike Stuckey each had doubles and Thacker and Mitch Edrington each singled.
But South Vermillion's half of the third may have been the key inning. With Stuckey [3-0] struggling with his control, the Wildcats had bases loaded with no outs.
South Vermillion's Ryan Lynn ripped bullet down the third bases line, rolling toward foul territory after clearing third base, a sure extra-base hit.
"Foul ball!" yelled the umpire. South Vermillion argued, but lost.
Stuckey struck out the batter for the first out. A ground ball to Thacker at second base scored a SV run, but there were two down. The next hitter grounded to the shortstop and the Knights got out of the inning allowing just one run.
"When you have the bases loaded and nobody out in a high school game it's tough to come out of there without giving up at least one run, and I thought we were very fortunate to give up just one," Witham said.
The big bats covered up a tough night on the mound for Stuckey. The righthander held the Wildcats to five hits, struckout five, walked three and hit one batter.
"The wind, I think, affected his breaking ball quite a bit. He couldn't get it over [the plate] like he needed to. He wasn't sharp with it, but he hung in there. I'll give him credit for toughing it out," Witham said.
The Knights and Wildcats meet again today at 7 p.m. at Northview High
Stuckey and Trout; Fisher, Williamson (4), Kelsheimer (5) and Williamson, Lowery (4). W -- Stuckey (3-0). L -- Fisher. LOB -- N 2, SV 7. HR -- Nees 2, Shoemaker, Capps. 3B -- Cooper. 2B -- Bass, Stuckey, Yocom, Johnson.
Next game: South Vermillion plays at Northview [9-0, 5-0 in WIC] at 7 p.m. tonight.