Senior catcher, Craig Trout, celebrates the final out of Wednesday's sectional semifinal win over Terre Haute South. The Knights advanced to the championship game on Friday.
PLAINFIELD -- Whenever Northview faces Terre Haute South in any sport, you can practically guarantee that their will be a great battle.
Their matchup in the Plainfield Baseball Sectional was certainly no disappointment in the excitement department.
The Knights staved off a bases loaded, one out rally from the Braves to earn a thrilling 6-4 victory to advance to Friday's championship game.
Northview senior Brady Shoemaker pitched the final five innings of the game and worked his way out of a bases loaded, no out jam in the fifth inning without allowing a run and held the Braves to just one run in the final frame to earn the victory on the mound.
But their were certainly a lot of Northview fans holding their collective breath.
The Knights held a 6-3 lead heading into the last inning and coming off a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, were poised to finish off the victory. That's when things got interesting.
Shoemaker retired the first batter of the inning before he walked Pat Duncan and then hit Michael Ferguson with a pitch. Pinch hitter Bobby Woods then came through with a single to second base that a diving Wade Thacker slowed. The result was a bases loaded jam for Shoemaker and the Knights.
But the experience wasn't all together new for Shoemaker.
In the fifth, Paul Christopher was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a passed ball. Duncan walked before Ferguson singled to centerfield to load the bases with no outs and Northview holding a suddenly tenuous 6-3 lead.
Shoemaker and the Northview defense was up to the task however.
Pinch hitter Bobby Switzer and leadoff hitter Evan Pettit fouled out and Shoemaker ended the threat by getting Koby Kraemer to popout eliciting a joyous celebration from Northview coaches and players alike. "You don't often load the bases and not score," said Northview head coach Gary Witham. "We were pretty excited. It was the turning point of the game really."
So staring at a bases loaded jam in the seventh, the Braves got an RBI single from Pettit, his third hit of the game, to make the score 6-4 with the bases still loaded. But the Knights bore down, Shoemaker got Kraemer to popout for the second out and with the Northview Nation holding their breath, Jeremy Edwards would popup to Ryan Nees at first to end the game.
"I was pretty nervous," admitted Shoemaker afterwards. "I'm not used to going in, my arm was wearing down and I was trying to throw strikes, but my defense made some great plays behind me."
Michael Stuckey was the starting pitcher for the Knights and went the first two innings and allowed three runs as the Braves capitalized on a walk and an error to score in the first inning and added two more in the second inning. A walk, a double a hit batter and another error made the score 3-1 heading to a pivotal fourth inning for the Northview offense.
Nees led off with a double for the Knights and Graig Bass smashed a 2-run homerun to leftfield to tie the game a 3-all. Jesse Johnson continued the rally with a single to center and Craig Trout followed an RBI double in the second inning with a single in the fourth. Johnson and Trout each moved into scoring position on a wildpitch and senior Shawn Hughes singled home Johnson as the Knights took a 4-3 lead.
T.J. King would bring home the fourth run of the inning on a sacrifice fly to put Northview ahead 5-3.
The Knights would add an insurance run in the fifth inning when they loaded the bases when Shane Cooper walked, Shoemaker doubled and the Braves intentionally walked Bass to load the bases. Johnson grounded into fielder's choice that scored Cooper to give Northview a 6-3 lead.
From there, Shoemaker and the Northview defense kept their fans on the edge of their seat before prevailing and earning a title game berth.
"(Terre Haute South) has got too many good hitters for us to shut them down," Witham commented. "I thought we struggled a little tonight, but overall we played well when we had to."
The Knights (23-4 overall) will take on either Plainfield or Terre Haute North in Friday's 6 p.m. title game at Plainfield.
Plainfield Baseball Sectional
2B -- Nv (Shoemaker, Nees, Trout), THS (Pettit). HR -- Nv (Bass).