OXFORD -- The Northview baseball team hit the road for a pair of long road trips over the weekend, coming away with valuable experience, but three narrow losses to top competition.
On Friday evening, the Knights faced off with the Jasper Wildcats, the No. 1 ranked team in Class 3A and dropped an 8-6 decision.
Jasper got on the board first with a run in the second inning off pitcher TJ Decker before Northview rallied to take a 3-1 lead in the third inning.
Devin Clark led off with a single and Tanner Glenn moved him to third with a ground out before Kodie Girton drove Clark home with an RBI single. Craig Peters followed with a base hit and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Conner Pierce followed with a two-run single.
The Wildcats broke the game open with two outs in the fourth inning, loading the bases before a couple of hits helped Jasper score seven runs and take an 8-3 lead.
Northview added three more runs to get back in the game during the sixth inning as Clark once again set the stage by reaching on an error. Glenn walked and Girton brought Clark home with a base hit. Joe Ball pinch ran for Glenn and scored on a fielder's choice by Peters. Zach Hull drove Ball in with a hit and Pierce followed with an RBI single.
Northview had runners on second and third in the seventh inning, but was unable to do any damage.
Despite the loss, coach Scott McDonald was pleased with how his team competed against a tough Jasper team.
"We were very happy with the way we played. We had two outs on them with the bases loaded in the fourth and were not able to get either strike three called that were great pitches," McDonald said. "Then the flood gates open up with a couple of hits. We never quit and battled the No. 1 team in the state toe-to-toe. TJ Decker took the loss, but threw a great game against the best hitting team I have seen in 22 years of coaching."
On Saturday, the Knights came back after the long Friday trip to visit Benton Central for tourney play.
Northview lost a 5-4 decision to Benton Central as the host school scored four times in the bottom of the sixth inning to pick up the win. In the second contest, Western scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to come back for a 3-2 win over the Knights.
The Knights got on the board against Benton Central as Girton reached on an error, moved to second on a fielder's choice by Peters and Pierce doubled him home.
In the sixth inning, Northview plated three runs to take a 4-1 lead as Decker led off with a base hit and moved up on a wild pitch. Tyler Wilson sacrificed him to third, Connor Ganly walked and Glenn blasted a three-run home run.
"We just never got going offensively and were very flat from the get go," McDonald said. "Craig Peters threw a good game, and the he got tired. We were just not able to finish the game off."
Peters went five innings and allowed four hits and just one unearned run. Brock Wheeler took the loss.
In the weekend finale, Northview's offense continued to struggle, mustering five hits against Western.
Trailing 1-0 into the sixth inning, Pierce doubled and came around to score on a ground out by Decker and was plated as Wilson reached on an error. In the seventh inning, Northview trailed 3-1, but got a one-out walk from Brock Smith, Peters reached on a walk and Pierce drove in Smith with a base hit. However, the Knights could get no closer.
Girton went five innings and allowed just two hits and one run while striking out six. Smith took the loss as Western tallied two runs, only one earned, in his inning of work.
"We put together this tour of the southern and northern parts of Indiana to put stress on our kids to deal with adversity in preparing for the sectional. We got exactly what we wanted at Jasper. We got back to school around 11:30 p.m. Friday night, had a quick turnaround and left for Benton Central at 6 am for a 9 a.m. game," McDonald said. "The mental toughness necessary for this type of schedule is high. The three teams that we played are all extremely talented and are all expected to make very deep runs in the tournament. Our kids competed very well and had chances to get three wins. We are heading in the right direction to getting ready for the sectional."
The Knights fell to 17-8 overall this season and head to Plainfield for their sectional opener on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. against Mooresville. Plainfield takes on Terre Haute North in the 5 p.m. opener.
Decker (L), Smith (5) and Glenn.
At Bison Invitational
Peters, Wheeler (5, L) and Glenn.
2B -- Nv (Pierce).
Girton, Smith (6, L) and Glenn.
2B -- Nv (Pierce). SB -- Nv (Wilson).