Times Sports Editor
MARTINSVILLE -- Northview baseball coach Scott McDonald couldn't have scripted a better opening effort from the Knights in the Martinsville Sectional on Thursday evening.
Good pitching? Check.
Flawless defense? Ditto.
Timely hitting? You bet.
Add all of those categories together and you get a 13-0 win by the Knights that send them into Monday's sectional semifinal.
After the victory, McDonald agreed that the win was a good way to open postseason play.
Northview's offense was ready to go from the opening pitch of the game, jumping out to a 4-0 lead after just two innings.
"Right out of the gate, we got a three-spot," McDonald said. "Anytime you can give Brock (Lawson) some runs . . . we just have to do a better job of putting them away earlier."
The Knights got three runs off Athenian starting pitcher, Jeremy Diller, in the first inning to grab control.
Andrew Butts walked and stole second to lead off the game and then came home as Caleb Mason hit the first of two doubles in the game. Zac Niehaus followed with a single and also stole second and Zach Hull added a one-out RBI single. Kodie Girton added an RBI groundout in the inning.
In the second frame, Northview flexed some muscle as Andrew Butts launched a solo homerun to give the Knights plenty of breathing room for Lawson on the mound.
The senior allowed just three hits over five innings of work and really got into only one jam.
In the fifth inning, Martinsville had back-to-back singles to open the inning and then Lawson hit Brandon Hatton to load the bases with no outs. Lawson was able to get a fly ball out from Jeramie England and then Kyle Williams lined to Matt Nodley at second base, who caught Hatton off first base for the double play.
Northview played add on in its own half of the fifth inning as Mason rifled his second two-base hit of the game and stole third base. He would come home on an RBI groundout by Niehaus. He moved to second on a balk by Diller and came home on an error on a throw to third base.
Leading 6-0, the Knights were able to substitute a number of pinch-hitters into the lineup and Northview made good use of the chance.
In the sixth inning, Nodley reached on an infield single before Roy Brown pinch-hit and lifted a towering, two-run homerun to rightfield to boost the lead to 8-0.
The final tallies came in the seventh-inning against Martinsville reliever, Mark Wells.
Northview got a single from Carson Kleiber and Joey Thomas, Broc Potter and Drake Stevenson all drew walks.
Kleiber came home on a wild pitch and Caleb Mershon served a two-run single up the middle for an 11-0 lead. Jordan Allen followed with an infield single that brought home Stevenson and JT Jeffries capped the scoring by shooting a single into centerfield that brought home Mershon.
Lawson had given way to Mason in the sixth inning and the junior reliever finished off the shutout with four strikeouts over two innings of work.
"We were only going to throw Brock (Lawson) five innings regardless," McDonald said. "We wanted to keep his pitch count down and we wanted to get Caleb in there and get him comfortable in sectional play."
McDonald seemed the most proud of the fact that his team continued its second half improvement on defense.
"About 12 games ago we made some changes and now in 13 games we've only had four errors," he continued. "If you hit the ball on the ground we're going to get it and if you hit it in the air we'll get to it too."
The Knights improve to 16-12 overall and play at 5 p.m. on Monday against the winner between Terre Haute South and Mooresville.
Class 4A Martinsville Baseball Sectional
2B -- Nv (Mason 2). HR -- Nv (Butts, Brown). SB -- Nv (Butts, Mason, Niehaus, Hull, Nodley 2).
|Lawson (W, 8-0)||4.0||0||3||0||4|