By CAREY FOX
The Terre Haute South Braves will return to the sectional championship game to defend their title from last year, holding off a determined Northview squad, 5-3 on Wednesday night.
Despite falling behind 4-0, the Knights continued to scrap and claw their way back into the game, getting within one run at 4-3 and had the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning. However, Braves' sophomore Tyler Goldman came in to relieve after an outstanding starting effort from freshman Anthony Reed and got the final two outs for the save.
"I was really pleased with our effort," said coach Gary Witham. "The kids played hard, it was kind of the same story as the rest of the year, we just couldn't get the hit to get over the hump."
The Braves came out of the gates, scoring a run in the first inning on a single by Koby Kramer, a stolen base and a throwing error that moved him to third base. After Justin Ferrell was hit by the Knights' Brock Lawson, nicely turned double play on a grounder by Zach Odum scored Kramer.
The lead was extended in the third inning on a walk, a bunt single and an RBI single by Odum. Evan Luken smacked a two-run double to the rightfield fence to push the lead to 4-0.
The following inning meant even more offensive damage by the Knights.
Kyle Pestoff reached on a throwing error by second baseman Jacob Hayes. Barr lined a two strike single to rightfield to score pinch-runner Broc Potter and Zac Niehaus reached via an error that scored Barr. Keaton Robertson singled to right, but was stranded after a fielder choice groundout.
Curtis Peters came in to relieve Lawson on the mound to begin the fourth inning and dazzled Braves hitters.
"Peters did a nice job coming off the bench," said Witham. "He showed a lot of grit."
The senior struckout five of the first six batters he faced and allowed just a single run over four innings while striking out seven.
However, Reed settled in at the same time, not allowing a hit in the fifth or sixth innings and striking out five as well.
Leading 5-3 heading into the bottom half of the seventh frame, the Knights got a glimmer of hope when Niehaus walked to lead off the inning.
After Reed got the first out via his 14th strikeout of the game, Crooks reached on the Braves' fourth error of the game, a throwing miscue by shortstop.
With two on and one out, Goldman came in to relieve in a tight situation and a passed ball that got by Josh Freeman moved the runners into scoring position.
However, Goldman was able to bear down and got pinch-hitter Craig Bell and Peters to strikeout and propel the Braves into the championship game against Mooresville, a 10-5 winner over Terre Haute North.
"I'm proud of these kids," said Witham of his squad following the game. "I think we gave (the Braves) everything they wanted."
The championship game will be played tonight at 6 p.m. The Knights finish the year at 10-17 overall and bid goodbye to seniors Nick Lancaster, Dylan Kruse, Robertson, Crooks, Peters and Barr.
Class 4A Northview Baseball Sectional
2B -- THS (Luken, Hayes). SB -- THS (Lough, Kraemer).