Times Sports Editor
The Northview Knights nearly allowed Wednesday's baseball game against Mooresville get away from them. However, a fifth inning rally enabled the Knights to come back to score an 11-10 victory over a potential sectional foe.
Closer Brock Wheeler came in to close out the game in near perfect fashion, striking out six of the seven batters he faced to nail down the team's 10th win and get the victory on the mound.
"I tell you, he's lights out every time," Northview coach Scott McDonald said about Wheeler. "The way he's throwing the ball, it's almost made it a five inning game. He's been phenomenal. He's got the perfect mentality to be a closer. He doesn't have any fear of anybody. It was a great performance on his part."
Wheeler earned his third victory to go with two saves and has struck out 22 batters in 10 innings of work.
The Knights built a 9-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring three runs, but left the bases loaded in an attempt at ending the game early via the 10-run rule.
The Pioneers made Northview pay as they used four walks and five base hits in the top of the fifth inning to push eight runs across the plate and take a 10-9 lead.
Northview responded quickly in the bottom of the fifth inning as Kodie Girton and Craig Peters drew one-out walks and moved up on a passed ball. Hull followed with a smashed single to bring home Girton and Pierce's groundout gave the Knights a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"TJ (Decker) threw the ball well. The ball was right there. I complain about every call, but (catcher) Tanner (Glenn) said every pitcher was right there," McDonald said of Decker, who walked six and struck out six in four-plus innings of work. "I was real happy with how TJ threw.
"Brock Smith came in and ended the disaster that was the fourth inning. I never thought we'd give up an eight-spot, but we battled back and showed a lot of mettle there pulling that one out," McDonald added.
The Knights took the lead with four runs in the second frame as Dan Reberger reached on a throwing error after striking out. Decker moved him over on a sacrifice bunt and Tanner Glenn walked before Devin Clark drove Decker in with a single. Connor Ganly followed with a two-run double and Girton drove in the fourth run with a ground out.
The lead continued to grow the following inning as a double by Pierce and two errors on a grounder to shortstop by Reberger brought Pierce home. Decker followed with a run-scoring double to push the lead to 6-2.
Northview would eventually lead 9-2 the following inning on an RBI single by Hull. Back-to-back walks to Pierce and Reberger led to an RBI base hit by Decker and a walk to Glenn with the bases loaded. However, Mooresville pitcher Austin Brinkley escaped further damage by getting an inning ending pop fly.
The Pioneers produced their big inning mostly via 'small ball' as a walk to Brinkley, an infield single by Brandon Smalling and a bunt single by Mac Norton set up a two-run double by Zane O'Dell. Three consecutive walks by Decker forced two more runs home to end his night on the mound. Brock Smith came in to pitch for the Knights and gave up a pair of two-run singles before ending the inning.
(Mooresville) is a good team, a team that we could see in the sectional. My team showed a lot of guts to get a lead, give it up the way they did come back and get another win."
Hull, Decker and Ganly each had two RBI's for the Knights with Hull, Pierce and Decker each producing two hits apiece.
The Knights (10-3 overall, 2-0 WIC) travels to Beech Grove on Saturday at 11 a.m.
2B -- Nv (Girton, Pierce, Decker, Ganly), Mv (O'Dell, Battenfield). SB -- Nv (Hull), Mv (Battenfield). LOB -- Nv 6, Mv 4.
|Wheeler (W, 3-0)||2.0||0||0||1||6|