Times Sports Editor
Opening the season against a rival isn't typically the ideal way to begin your year so it wasn't too surprising that there were a few opening game jitters on both sides as Northview and Clay City opened the baseball season with their annual county battle.
Clay City's bats adapted pretty quickly, but it was Northview that took advantage of the Eels' defensive miscues and nine walks to score a 10-3 win.
Clay City struck first against Northview starter Kodie Girton, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning.
DJ Newton reached first base on a throwing error to open the game and came around to score on back-to-back singles by AJ Evans and Tyler Bridgewater. Evans moved to second on a stolen base and eventually crossed the plate on a well-executed bunt by Kole Smith for a 2-0 lead.
"We had a lot of anxiety coming in with the first game and the expectations that are here," Northview coach Scott McDonald said. "We didn't come to play. I thought we were pretty flat coming out, thinking that Clay City was just going to let us win. We're going to have a heart-to-heart after the field work is done and we'll come out a lot sharper tomorrow."
Meanwhile, the Knights got their bats going in the second inning as the lower half of the lineup got things cooking.
Seth Lunsford drew a leadoff walk and would come around to score without the benefit of a hit as he moved to second on an errant pickoff throw to first and scored on two wild pitches.
Zach Hull blasted a double to centerfield followed by a single by Joey Thomas and a walk to TJ Decker that loaded the bases. Andrew Butts brought the tying run home via a sacrifice fly, Kodie Girton walked and Thomas scored on another wild pitch by Bridgewater. A Zach Niehaus triple over the outstretched glove of Evans in centerfield brought home both Girton and Decker to give the Knights a 5-2 lead.
"Give Coach McDonald credit, that's a good team and they are going to fare well this year," Clay City coach Vance Edmondson said. "(Northview) is deep all the way around, pitching and hitting. They will be a tough team for whomever they play this year."
Northview added to its lead in the fourth inning against Evans, who had relieved Bridgewater on the mound.
Girton lead off the inning with a bunt single followed by back-to-back singles by Niehaus and Caleb Mason. Girton scored on a throwing error. Craig Bell lined to shortstop for the second out and the Eels tried to double Niehaus off at third base, but the throw was wide as the Knights' junior came home for a 7-2 lead. Following a walk to Hull, Thomas reached first on the Eels' fifth error of the game, which also scored Mason.
After Girton went the first four innings, Decker came in to relieve in the fifth inning and got the first two outs before a double by Newton to centerfield. However, the Eels weren't able to capitalize as Decker struck out Evans to end the inning.
Northview tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the sixth inning on an infield single by Butts, a walk to Craig Peters and a walk to Niehaus loaded the bases. Curtis Grove hit a grounder to second base that was bobbled just enough for Niehaus to reach safely as Butts scored. A fielder's choice by Drake Stevenson brought home Peters for a 10-2 Knights' lead.
Clay City added a single run in the sixth inning after Decker had struck out both Bridgewater and Brylan Jones to open the frame. Smith singled to start the rally, Tanner Persinger drew a walk and Zach Boggs hit an RBI double to short centerfield for the Eels final run. Decker got Colton Harbour via strikeout to end the rally with his fifth punchout.
"Both guys did a pretty good job I thought. The first start of the year I was nervous with the way the wind was it takes a lot off the fastball," McDonald said of his pitchers. "They were around the plate. We only walked three guys, which was really important."
Despite the loss, Edmondson saw some good things that he felt that his coaching staff could work with to start the season.
"Not to make excuses, but we had a couple of guys that weren't eligible, but for our first game, I saw some good things," Edmondson said. "The stuff that went wrong for us tonight, the mistakes that we made are things we can fix. The defense will shore up. We put the ball in play tonight and had some nice hits so we'll go back to work tomorrow and try and shore up some things."
The Knights (1-0 overall) are back in action tonight against Western Boone at 5 p.m. while the Eels (0-1 overall) visit Sullivan on Saturday at 10 a.m.
2B -- CC (Newton, Boggs), Nv (Hull). 3B -- Nv (Niehaus). SB -- Nv 5 (Thomas 2, Butts, Mason, Decker). CS -- (Newton).
|K.Girton (W, 1-0)||4.0||2||2||1||7|
|Bridgewater (L, 0-1)||1.2||5||4||5||1|