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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Shaky defense costs Knights home victory

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

(Photo)
Roy Brown
BY CLAY CUNNINGHAM

Times Staff Reporter

The Northview baseball team saw an end to their red hot start to the season, falling for the first time, in a wild 10-9 game against Bloomington North.

After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, Zac Niehaus attempted to kickstart a rally with a two out double in the bottom of the inning. Caleb Mason followed with a single to right. Unfortunately, the rally didn't result in any runs, as Niehaus was gunned down at the plate.

The Cougars added to their lead in the third when Zach Collier's RBI single pushed their lead to 2-0. Knights starting pitcher Craig Bell seemingly did all within his power to stop the bleeding and get Northview out of the inning having allowed just one run. Unfortunately, his defense didn't hold up its end of the bargain.

With two outs and runners on second and third, Bell forced a slow roller to first baseman Zach Hull, who simply had to field the ball and step on the bag. However, Hull saw the ball roll right through his legs, bringing Collier to the plate.

Before the inning came to a close, North scored two more runs on a wild pitch and an error respectively. All told, Northview committed six errors on the evening, four of which were in the disastrous third inning. Knights' coach Scott McDonald didn't hesitate to call out his defense for their poor effort.

"We should have won that game in a blowout," McDonald said before subjecting his players to post game defensive drills. "Our defense didn't hold up their end of the bargain."

Niehaus atoned for his running blunder in the bottom of the third, blasting a two-run home run to finally get the Knights on the board. For the game, Niehaus was 3-for-3 with a home run, a double and three RBI's.

The momentum didn't last for the Knights, and Bloomington North followed their four-run third inning with a four-run fourth, seemingly putting the game away with a 9-2 lead.

The Knights didn't go away easily though, as relief pitcher JT Jeffries, who was responsible for two of the four runs in the fourth, settled down after his rocky start and kept Northview in the game. All told, he threw 3 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits.

Seemingly left for dead, the Northview offense, fresh off a weekend performance in which they scored 49 runs in three games, came to life in a big way to make a sixth consecutive win a real possibility.

Trailing 10-3 with two outs, Drake Stevenson kick-started a rally with a two-run, two-out double. Moments later, Devin Clark, who was pinch running for Seth Lunsford, who reached on a walk, scored on a wild pitch to bring the Knights within four.

The rally continued when a fresh-off-the-bench Roy Brown blasted a two-run double to cut the deficit to two. After Niehaus was hit by a pitch, Cougar pitcher Tyler Hurt balked, putting runners on second and third.

This paved the way for Caleb Mason, who singled up-the-middle to get Northview within 10-9. Mason, representing the tying run, got into scoring position, but never made it home as TJ Decker grounded out to first to end the inning.

Though their comeback attempt fell short, McDonald said his offense did more than enough for his team to earn a victory.

"There's no doubt our offense did enough to win this game," McDonald said.

The loss dropped the Knights to 5-1. While a strong comeback effort against a good opponent would often be considered a satisfying performance to some coaches, a blunt McDonald said he expects much better and more consistent play from his club, and boldly predicted the fielding errors which cost them Tuesday's game would not occur again.

"I guarantee you this," McDonald said, "we will not make one error tomorrow. If this team is going to be as good as I expect them to be, we can't play defense the way we did tonight."

Northview will attempt to rebound tonight, when they host North Vermillion. The game begins at 5 p.m.

At Northview

Bloomington North1044010-10120
Northview0020160-996

2B-- BN (Brahaum). NV (Niehaus, Hull, Stevenson, Brown). HR-- NV (Niehaus)

Pitching

Bloomington NorthIPRHBBK
Jones (W)5.28846
Hurt0.11100
Brahaum (S)10001
NorthviewIPRHBBK
Bell (L)3.27623
Jeffries3.13600