A wild and wooly win
Top left: Matt Vansickle and the Clay City Eels beat North Central Tuesday.
Top right: Jesse Johnson comes home with the winning run.
Bottom left: Sean Brackney threw 5 1/3 innings of relief in Tuesday's win against the Cougars and had an RBI.
Bottom right: Graig Bass is congratulated by Asst. Coach Kent Bass and John Reberger after a two-run double.
It's not how much you begin a game but how you finish it. Just ask the Northview Knights who've made a living by making thrilling comebacks the past two seasons.
The Knights added another wild ride for their fans that culminated in an exciting come-from-behind win over visiting Bloomington North on Tuesday.
This one might take the cake for overcoming what seemed like insurmountable odds as Northview fell behind 9-0 through 3 1/2 innings.
The Cougars found just the right stroke in getting to Northview starter Jesse Johnson for eight runs on seven hits over the first two innings.
Sean Brackney came in to relieve Johnson and allowed a run in the top of the fourth inning to give Bloomington North a solid 9-0 advantage as Northview came to the plate in their half of the fourth frame.
Until that point, Cougar starter, Dan Jackson had silenced the Northview lumber (or in this case aluminum) through three innings, giving up no hits.
Graig Bass' bat was the first to come to life as he led off the fourth with a towering home run into the jet stream blowing right to left field on Tuesday evening. The Knights would add one more run to the board as Austin Bryan reached on a throwing error by Jackson on a routine comebacker. Keaton Robertson followed with a ringing double and Bryan scored on a Brackney groundout.
The Cougars would add another run to their lead in the top of the sixth inning, making the score 10-2 and opportunities appeared to be running out for the Knights.
But no one told Northview that they weren't supposed to be in this game anymore.
Bass led off the inning with a walk and Bryan followed with a single before Robertson drilled his second double of the evening, scoring Bass. Pinch hitter, Matt Deakins came up to the plate and reached base when he was hit by a Jackson pitch.
With the bases loaded, Jackson got Brackney via a strikeout to bring Cody Crooks to the plate.
Crooks had struggled to that points, striking out twice versus Jackson and quickly fell behind 0-2 again. But this time was different. Crooks hammered a Jackson pitch to leftcenter that cleared the fences for a grandslam and suddenly the Knights had life.
"You really have to give these guys credit," said coach Gary Witham of his Knights. "It would have been really easy, down 9-0, to just roll over. . .Crooks' grandslam really got us back in the game and gave us confidence."
Behind 10-7 at this point, the Knights didn't stop there.
No. 9 hitter, J.J. Smerdel walked and after a lineout by Chase Yocom, Jesse Johnson smacked a single to left centerfield. Bass then came to the plate and hammered a double that scored both Smerdel and Johnson to narrow the lead to 10-9.
With two outs and Bass at second base, Bryan reached base for the third time when he worked the count full and fouled off several pitches before working a walk out of Cougar reliever Brice Fox. The walk was a big one for the Knights as Robertson completed the comeback by nailing his third double of the game to score two more runs and give Northview an 11-10 lead.
John Reberger would give Northview another big run when he stepped up and brought home Northview's 10th run of the inning on a single to put the Knights ahead 12-10 heading to the seventh inning.
The Cougars weren't ready to go just yet however, as Matt Serfling hit a one out single off Brackney and Nick Von Foerster served a looping shot down the left field line for a double, putting runners on second and third. Gant Elmore brought both runners home with another double, tying the score at 12-apiece. BJ Cain would continue the comeback when he sliced an RBI single to make the score 13-12 in favor of the Cougars.
John Reberger came on in relief of Brackney, who had a stellar outing despite what the box score might show.
"It was really a great performance by Shawn (Brackney), said Witham. "He did a good job against a great hitting team."
Reberger came on to get Northview out of the inning and give them one last shot at the Cougars.
Leading off the bottom of the inning, Cody Crooks drilled a double to the wall in centerfield to get the Knights rolling, but hard throwing Cougar freshman, Jim Hurt got Smerdel on a strikeout and Yocom on a grounder to put the pressure on Johnson.
With two outs and two strikes, Johnson lined a hard shot to centerfield that was misplayed by the Cougar centerfield, allowing the ball to get past him and scoring Crooks to tie the game.
Bass who had reached base all four times, was intentionally walked by the Cougars to bring Bryan to the plate.
Hurt got Bryan in a hole, but then uncorked a wildpitch that allowed Johnson to come home with the winning run to cement a pair of unlikely comebacks in the same game for the Knights.
"There's nothing like being behind and coming back to beat good competition," mentioned a smiling Witham afterwards.
The victory keeps Northview unbeaten at 4-0 overall with a road trip to Shakamak tonight beginning with a 5 p.m. JV game followed by varsity.
2B -- Nv (Robertson 3, Bass), BN (Von Forester, Elmore, Cain, Morrow). HR -- Nv (Crooks, Bass), BN (Jackson).