Times Sports Editor
The temperatures might have been chilly at Northview High School Friday night as the Knights took on Martinsville in baseball, but home team remained plenty warm, improving to 3-0 this season with an 11-1 win.
Northview players tore up the base paths, which likely kept them somewhat warm, stealing more than a half dozen bases and scoring numerous times on wild pitches against the Artesians.
"We put a lot of pressure on the defense," coach Scott McDonald said. "We looked at the stats and last year we had 27 stolen bases the entire season and we already have 29 (before Friday's game) this season."
The Knights scored in every inning, getting out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning as Matt Nodley beat out an infield single and moved to second when the throw got past Artesian first baseman, Shawn Downey. Zac Niehaus started off his night in style by sending a flyball into the perfect open spot in short centerfield. He used his speed to fly into second as Nodley scored the first run.
"We set the tone early," McDonald said. "We got out and ran and you could see their defense kind of crumble. It's a true testament to our hustle."
Niehaus would race to third, one of the Knights many steals, and then trotted home on Caleb Mason's RBI single. Mason then stole second base to set the plate for Seth Lunsford's RBI single.
The Knights added another run the following inning when Drake Stevenson celebrated his 18th birthday by blasting a triple to the wall in rightfield and came home on a wildpitch by Eli Wilson.
The lead grew to 5-1 in the third inning as Niehaus doubled, on his way to a 4-for-4 night at the plate, and came around to score on a single by Logan Kile.
While Martinsville was struggling to stay in the game, Northview hurler Brock Lawson was doing everything he could to shut the door on the Artesians.
The senior scattered five hits over 4 2/3 innings of work, striking out four and walking two while allowing just one run. Martinsville's lone run was set up when Jeremy Diller drew a two-out walk in the second inning and came around to score when Jeramie England launched a flyball to rightfield that turned into a double as Kile slipped while giving chase.
Lawson pitched himself out of any further trouble in the fourth inning when Martinsville loaded the bases with two outs on a double by Downey, a walk to Jordan Gray and an infield single by Diller. Lawson was able to buckle down and strike out both England and Dillon Reeder to end the threat.
"Brock was awesome," McDonald said with obvious pleasure. "He had all his pitches going and we were even calling some 3-2 curveballs."
The Knights added to their lead in the fourth inning as Nodley reached via an error and scored on a pair of wild pitches. Niehaus singled, stole second and came home on an infield single by Kile. Lunsford had reached on Martinsville's fifth error of the game and came home on a passed ball and Kile added the fourth run on a wild pitch.
Kile would come in to close out the game, getting the final out on a strikeout of Mark Wells.
"Logan has been sick, but he came in and did a nice job of closing it out," McDonald said.
Northview ended the game via the 10-run rule in the bottom of the fifth inning as Broc Potter reached on a walk and Stevenson pinch ran for the junior. Tanner Glenn pinch-hit and singled down the rightfield line to send Stevenson to third before Niehaus drove in his second run to end the contest.
"We came out and hit the ball tonight," McDonald said. "We set the tone early and got into their bullpen, it was their third game in four nights. I'll tell you, the ball must look like a pumpkin to Niehaus. (Spots) one through nine (in the lineup) we can swing the bats."
The Knights improve to 3-0 overall and host Mount Vernon today at noon.
2B -- Nv (Niehaus 2), Mv (Downey, England). 3B -- Nv (Stevenson).