Knights get back on winning track
By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
The Northview Knights' baseball team apparently has a little bit of a dramatic side for the 2010 season.
The Knights have trailed after three innings in half of their six games this season and Wednesday was no different as Northview fell behind 4-0 to visiting North Vermillion. However, like the team has in five of those six games, the Knights rallied back to pick up a victory, this one a 9-5 decision against North Vermillion.
As in their previous victories, the Knights' offense provided the rally, pounding out 15 hits in the win. The 3-4-5 hitters in the lineup, Zac Niehaus, Caleb Mason and Zach Hull went a combined 8-for-11 with four RBI and four extra base hits.
"(Caleb) Mason and (Zac) Niehaus both were great all night. Niehaus is an absolute animal. He didn't miss a ball all night," Northview coach Scott McDonald said. "(Zach Hull) I think is hitting over .500, so I mean our team batting average is almost .400. So the offense is there and once we get the defense lined out, which I think right now it is, we're going to be just fine."
North Vermillion did nearly all its damage in the top half of the third inning as Kody Zumwalt singled with one out, Jacob Harrison walked and Dalton McCool hit into what should have been a fielder's choice out. However, the Knights weren't able to get an out on the ground ball to shortstop as the throw to first was in the dirt as Zumalt scored the first run. Jacob Rankin followed with a single and Northview starter, Craig Peters, was called for a balk to move the runners to second and third. Ethan Clark followed with a two-run single to push the lead to 4-0 before Peters got out of the inning.
The Knights came right back after the Falcons' starter, Zumalt, as Andrew Butts singled and later moved all the way to third on an errant pickoff throw.
With the plate set, Drake Stevenson followed by drawing a walk and Zac Niehaus rocketed a line drive off third baseman, Austin Dickeron's glove for a double that brought home Butts. Caleb Mason then stepped to the plate and blasted a three-run home run to deep centerfield to tie the score. Zach Hull and Joey Thomas each reached via base hits, but Zumalt coaxed a fly ball out from Kodie Girton to end the threat.
Peters held the Falcons in check into the fifth inning when North Vermillion added another run on a single, double, intentional walk and a sacrifice fly. Brock Wheeler came in to get the final out of the inning.
Once more, the Knights' offense rallied as Niehaus singled and Hull singled on a hit-and-run play to send Niehaus to third. Seth Lunsford hit a grounder that was misplayed for an error at second as Niehaus tied the score. Joey Thomas followed with an RBI groundout for the go-ahead run and Jordan Allen brought home Hull with a fly ball single to short centerfield.
Ahead 7-5, the Knights put the lead in the hands of Wheeler for the final two innings.
He was more than up to the task, closing the door on the Falcons, allowing just two hits while striking out five in 2 1/3 innings of work in getting the victory.
"Brock (Wheeler) did a good job and I thought Craig (Peters) did a good job too. Coming off a game with so much emotion in it last night (vs. Bloomington North), I expected us to come out a little flat tonight," McDonald said. "The positive thing is I thought our defense played outstanding. (Peters and Wheeler) aren't big strikeout guys yet so our defense had to make plays and they did."
The Knights added some insurance runs in the sixth inning as Hull doubled to left centerfield, Lunsford walked, Thomas hit an RBI single to score pinch-runner, Tyler Trout and Kodie Girton brought home pinch runner, Tyler Wilson with an RBI single.
Northview got excellent bench production in the win as Jordan Allen and Roy Brown each had base hits late as well as Trout and Wilson scoring runs.
"(Jordan Allen and Roy Brown) coming off the bench is kind of nice," McDonald said. "Roy's been automatic whenever he's come up. He's gotten big hits for us last (Tuesday and Wednesday). Jordan had a really good at-bat I thought. With both of them being seniors, they are ready whenever they are called on and they did exactly what we needed them to do tonight."
In the win, Hull was 4-for-4 with a double and a stolen base, Niehaus was 3-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI and two runs scored and Thomas had a pair of RBI's.
The Knights (6-1 overall) travel to Shakamak tonight for a junior varsity and varsity game beginning at 5 p.m.
2B -- Nview (Niehaus 2, Hull), NV (Rankin). HR -- Nv (Mason). SB -- Nview (Hull), NV (Harrison 2). CS -- Nv (Butts), NV (McCool).