Times Sports Editor
Facing perhaps the top pitcher in the state in Lawrence Central's Christian Montgomery, the Northview Knights had their shots against a potential top draft pick in this year's Major League Baseball Draft.
But the Knights couldn't get the big hits until it was too late.
The Knights left 10 runners on base and the Class 4A 11th-ranked Bears got the big hits they needed to score a 12-5 victory against eighth-ranked Northview.
Montgomery was wild early and the Knights were patient, drawing four walks in the first inning following a lead-off bunt single by Kodie Girton that scored the game's first run. However, a looping flyball that hugged the right field foul line by Curtis Grove was ruled foul and Montgomery bounced back to get out of further danger with a strikeout.
Once the hard throwing, 6'1, 240 lb. Montgomery settled down a bit, his breaking ball came in and got him out of trouble a number of times with strikeouts.
"He's considered the top pitcher in the state," Northview coach Scott McDonald said of Montgomery. "He's supposedly going to be a first round draft pick, we took some good swings on him, we had a lot of base runners. The (foul ball) that (Curtis) Grove hit was pretty close. We had a couple of chances that we could have got, but we hung right in there. The kids battled, especially against a kid that throws 95 miles per hour."
The Bears countered the Knights' single run in the first inning with two in the second inning, leading off with a single by Brandon Wind and then loading the bases on a pair of walks off Craig Peters.
Lawrence Central's Bryan Davidson hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game and Chris Ferguson hit an RBI single to push the Bears out front 2-1. Northview catcher Seth Lunsford ended the inning by picking off Jaylen Quarles at third base.
Northview threatened again in the second inning as Connor Pierce and Andrew Butts drew walks, but Montgomery got Zac Niehaus on a strikeout for the final out of the inning.
The Knights left five runners on base over the first two innings with just one run to show for it before the Bears broke open the game with a five-run fifth inning.
Meanwhile, Montgomery had begun to locate his fast ball better and used his slider to strike out 12 over six innings of work, allowing just two hits. However, his seven walks made things a bit hairy at times.
Northview added its second run in the sixth inning as Zac Niehaus lined a single into rightfield following a walk to Butts. A hard shot to third base by Lunsford got through to score the team's second run and narrowing the Bears' advantage to 8-2.
After getting through the first 1 2/3 innings unscathed, Mershon lost his command a bit in the seventh inning as a single to Montgomery, a double by Wind set up a four-run rally. The Knights' intentionally walked Quarles before Mershon got the first out. However, back-to-back run scoring walks and an error led to a 12-2 Bears' lead.
"We did a lot of things right offensively, defensively is where it really hurt," McDonald said.
Heading into its final at-bat, Northview got a look at a new Bears' pitcher in Jack Coons and the Knights got going quickly.
Base hits by Kodie Girton and Niehaus, sandwiched around Butts' fourth walk of the game, set up a sacrifice fly by Hull. A walk to Lunsford loaded the bases and brought Grove to the plate again.
The senior chopped a grounder to third and the throw to first sailed high allowing Grove to reach safely and brought two runs home. The rally continued as Joey Thomas struck out, but reached base when the ball got by and the throw to first was errant to load the bases.
Bears coach Dan Roman brought in Dick Reese and he was able to coax a flyball from Pierce and a game-ending groundout by TJ Decker to end the threat.
"That's definitely a positive sign, we didn't quit," McDonald said of the seventh inning rally. "The thing we've got to really do is just make some plays. If we play the defense we're capable of playing, it's a 6-5 game or maybe we're in the lead."
The loss drops the Knights to 10-2 overall and Northview travels to Plainfield on Monday for a make-up game at 5 p.m.
2B -- LC (Montgomery, Wind, J.Jones). 3B -- LC (Krieg). HR -- LC (Quarles). SB -- (None). CS -- Nv (Girton). LOB -- Nv 10, LC 6.
|Peters (L, 3-1)||4.1||8||7||3||3|