Times Sports Editor
Not much was on the line for the Northview Knights in Friday's home baseball contest against Owen Valley. The Knights had already clinched the Western Indiana Conference title outright with a victory at South Vermillion earlier in the week. The Patriots came into the evening with a 9-8 overall record and 2-3 in the WIC and nearly came out with a victory.
"We were sort of fighting that, 'what are we playing for syndrome,'" Northview coach Scott McDonald said of his team's lethargic game. "It got kind of dicey there at the end. Brock (Wheeler) maintained his composure and does what Brock does, saves the game and its over."
The Knights hit the ball hard throughout the game, but Owen Valley made enough play to keep Northview from breaking the game open.
Starting pitcher TJ Decker gave up a pair of first inning base hits, but kept the Patriots off the board by getting two ground outs to end the threat.
The Knights got to Patriots' starter Logan Terrell for a run in the bottom of the opening frame as Zach Hull beat out an infield single, moved to third on a Connor Pierce single and scored on an RBI hit by Tyler Wilson.
Owen Valley answered the call in the second inning as Ben Allen singled, Terrell walked and No. 9 hitter, Wesley Arthur was hit-by-pitch on an 0-2 count to load the bases. Decker nearly got out unscathed as a high hopper behind second base resulted in one out, but the throw to first sailed wide and brought home two runs.
"TJ (Decker) wasn't as sharp tonight. Defensively, the ground is so hard, I've been watering the field like crazy, but it's still rock hard," McDonald said. "There were some interesting hops out there. There are some little things we need to clean up, but I thought we hit the ball pretty well. (Owen Valley's) kids made some great plays and took away some things we were hoping to get out of it."
Facing a 2-1 deficit, Northview started the third inning with a walk to Kodie Girton, who stole second. Craig Peters drew a walk and Hull smashed a two-run double to the wall to give the Knights a 3-2 advantage.
With a chance to add to that lead however, the Knights saw Pierce hit-by-pitch. Wilson attempted to lay down a bunt, but popped out, Decker would walk to load the bases, but Terrell got Connor Ganly and Devin Clark to pop out to end the inning.
Stranded base runners were a problem for the Knights, who left seven on base in six innings.
After falling behind early, Decker was able to keep the Patriots at bay over the final three innings of work, striking out seven while allowing only a single that dropped as Pierce and Girton collided in rightfield. Owen Valley did have two runners on in the third inning as Decker struck out Casey Roberts, who reached when the final strike was in the dirt and the throw to first was wide. Nathan Swafford reached when he was hit-by-pitch on a 1-2 count, but Decker set down the next two hitters.
Northview added an important insurance run in the fourth as Tanner Glenn broke out of a slump with a ringing triple to the fence. Girton followed with an RBI single to put the Knights ahead 4-2.
Brock Smith came in for a scoreless inning of work in the sixth inning and started the seventh, but came out in favor of Wheeler after Arthur smacked a double to rightfield to start the inning.
Wheeler started a bit shaky with a wildpitch that moved pinch runner, Austin Hunter to third base with no outs. Whitten followed with an RBI on his sacrifice fly before Derek Schmitt drew a walk.
Nolan King followed with a grounder to second and both runners were safe as the Patriots continued to rally with one out.
Roberts came to the plate and worked deep into the count against Wheeler, whose final pitch was swung on and missed as the ball hit Roberts resulting in a strikeout and a dead ball. Roberts slammed the bat to the ground and was ejected for the reaction. The Knights would set aside the Patriots on a grounder by Swafford for the final out.
The win was the ninth straight for Northview and completed a perfect conference mark.
"Any time a Northview team can go 6-0 in the conference it's really nice because the teams have been pretty good, especially in baseball," McDonald said. "First goal of the year is always to win the conference and we did that, then win the Big Four and now we have to worry about getting ready for the sectional."
The Knights (16-3 overall, 6-0 WIC) travel to Danville for a doubleheader today at 11 a.m.
Junior varsity baseball
The Northview JV baseball team used an eight-run rally in the sixth inning to pick up a 15-12 victory at Danville on Thursday night.
The Knights' offense got a 2-for-4 night from Bo Stewart with a triple and three RBI, Nate Newton doubled and Kyle Moore, Trevor Hetrick and Joe Ball each had singles.
Walks were a thorn in the Knights' side as the pitchers gave up a combined 15 walks in the game.
Trevor Hetrick finished off the game with a scoreless inning of work, striking out the side. Tanner Wilson struck out six over 2 2/3 innings on the mound, allowing four runs, four hits and two walks. Nate Newton worked two innings, walked three, struck out three and allowed four runs and Jake Harden walked 10 in 1 1/3 innings and gave up four runs.
The Knights (7-3 overall) play at South Vermillion on Monday at 5 p.m.
Northview 4, Owen Valley 3
|Whitton lf||4||0||0||1||Girton cf||2||1||1||1|
|Schmitt rf||3||0||1||0||Peters ss||3||1||0||0|
|Shaffer pr||0||0||0||0||Hull 1b||3||1||2||2|
|King 3b||4||0||1||0||Pierce rf||2||0||1||0|
|Roberts 1b||4||0||1||0||Wilson dh||3||0||1||1|
|Swafford cf||3||0||0||0||Decker p-2b||2||0||0||0|
|Allen ss||3||1||1||0||Ganly 3b||2||0||0||0|
|Terrell p||2||1||0||0||Pestoff ph||0||0||0||0|
|Schwartz c||3||0||0||0||Clark lf||3||0||0||0|
|Arthur dh||2||0||1||0||Glenn c||3||1||2||0|
|Hunter pr||0||1||0||0||Craig pr||0||0||0||0|
2B- Nv (Hull), OV (Arthur). 3B -- Nv (Glenn). SB -- Nv (Girton 3), OV (None). LOB -- Nv 7, OV 8.
|Decker (W, 4-0)||5.0||2||4||1||8|
|Wheeler (Sv, 7)||1.0||0||0||1||1|
|Terrell (L, 3-3)||6.0||4||7||5||2|