Times Sports Editor
Being opportunistic is sometimes even more important than being just plain good.
On Thursday, the Knights used a bit of both to claim a 9-6 baseball win over visiting Shakamak.
The Lakers were able to score a first inning run on an RBI double by Billy Newton, but the Knights answered back in their own half of the inning.
Caleb Mason drove home a pair of runs with a two-run single that brought home both Zac Niehaus and Matt Nodley.
The second inning showed the Knights ability to pressure an opponent and take advantage of mistakes.
The Knights rang up five runs while reaching base via hit only twice in the inning. The Lakers committed three errors in the inning and pitcher T.J. Hill, walked a batter in the rally.
Andrew Butts reached on a single and stole a base while Niehaus reached on an error along with Seth Lunsford and Mason. Each of the batters came home in the inning, though there were no RBIs in the frame.
"Our speed once again helped us get a big lead," Northview coach Scott McDonald said. "We hit the ball well against their No. 1 pitcher, he had some good stuff."
Indeed, Hill was the hard luck recipient of some poor fielding in the game as Shakamak committed five miscues in the game and none of the Knights' runs in the second innings were earned.
The Knights built an 8-1 lead after three innings as Zach Hull doubled, Mershon then walked and Butts drove home Mershon after Hull was caught stealing.
Mershon was on the mound for the first three and a third innings, allowing just one run while striking out four batters.
Mershon started the fourth inning, but gave way to freshman T.J. Decker after walking Hill with one out.
Decker got through the fourth inning, but the Lakers took advantage of the Knights' lone mistake of the game.
John Smith walked to lead off the frame and Scott McNabb reached on a grounder to shortstop that was briefly bobbled. Smith reached second to beat the throw and the Lakers were in business.
Bill Newton made the Knights pay by launching a three-run homerun to left field to narrow the lead to 8-4. Tyler Richardson drew a walk to set up VanHorn for an RBI double.
Shakamak would eventually score five runs in the inning, the final tally coming on a balk by Decker that got the Lakers within 8-6.
McDonald noted that his team should have been out of the inning before any big damage was done.
"With our pitching depth, I thought we'd be fine," McDonald said of making the pitching change. "One pitch and one error was the difference. But overall I thought our defense played pretty well."
Decker got the final out of the inning by striking out Tyler Sparks.
The Knights added a single run in the bottom of the inning as Logan Kile walked and stole second base before moving to third on the throw from Smith behind the plate. Craig Bell brought the run home on an RBI groundout for a 9-6 lead.
Mason came in to finish out the game on the mound and made sure that the Lakers weren't going to get any closer.
The junior struck out four of the six batters he faced to put the lid on the victory.
"Mershon kept (Shakamak) off balance and his curve was sharper than it's been," McDonald said of his starter. "Mason came in and just dominated."
The Knights improve to 5-3 this season and travel to Plainfield on Saturday for a doubleheader at 11 a.m. The Knights JV team scored a 6-3 win in the first game.
2B -- Nv (Hull), SH (Newton, VanHorn). HR -- SH (Newton).