Times Sports Editor
PLAINFIELD -- Northview got the second complete game pitching performance from senior TJ Decker during sectional action and the Knights advanced to the championship game of the Plainfield Sectional with a 5-4 victory over Terre Haute North on Monday afternoon.
With a 10 a.m. start for the semifinal, the temperatures continued to climb as the innings mounted, but Decker remained strong in striking out seven while scattering eight hits and allowing four runs.
"I'll tell you what, that's one of the gutsiest efforts I've ever seen in terms of the conditions," coach Scott McDonald said of Decker's outing in 90-plus degree heat. "I mean it was brutally hot out there. We tried to keep him as cool and hydrated as we could. He wanted the ball and he said, 'I'm not going to be beaten today.'"
The Knights scored the eventual winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning after North had tied the game with two runs in the top of the fifth.
Northview sophomore Conner Ganly scooted down the first base line to beat out an infield single to lead off the inning and moved to second on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Devin Clark that ended the afternoon for Patriots' starting pitcher, Adler Ingalsbe. Landry Kauffman's stint on the mound didn't last long as he walked No. 9 hitter Tanner Glenn before going to a 2-0 count on Decker.
Sophomore Austin Hicks came in and Decker eventually walked before Craig Peters hit a fielder's choice grounder that brought home Ganly for the 5-4 lead.
Decker returned to the mound to close out the game in the seventh inning, getting ground outs by Zachary Milam and Nicholas Long to shortstop Craig Peters to start the frame. Decker then got No. 3 hitter, Cody Gardner to fly out to send the Knights to the championship game.
The Patriots took a 2-0 lead with single runs in the second and third innings as a triple by Tony Rosselli to start the second frame would set up Colton Pittman for a sacrifice fly and a 1-0 lead.
In the third inning, a walk and a fielding error set up Long for an RBI base hit to push the lead to 2-0.
However, after having a runner thrown out stealing and one caught trying to score at home plate in the first inning, the Knights got going in a big way in the third inning.
Clark tripled to start the inning and Glenn drilled an RBI double for the first run for the Knights. Decker drew a walk and Peters laid down a bunt, but the attempted throw to third was high and the bases were loaded with no outs.
Ingalsbe got Zach Hull on a strikeout, but Conner Pierce smashed a single up the middle to plate Glenn and Decker to put Northview ahead 3-2. Bryant Pestoff added an RBI on a single to give the Knights a 4-2 advantage.
"We thought that's who we would see," McDonald said of North pitcher Adler Ingalsbe. "We spent a lot of time working and prepping for him and going the other way with pitches and it worked out well."
That lead would stand through a hairy fourth inning as Decker got the first two outs by strikeout, but Pittman hit single back up the middle and Scott Finzel doubled to left centerfield. The relay came back to Peters, who threw up the line at home, but Pittman was tagged by Glenn for the third out.
North was able to tie the game in the fifth inning with two outs on the board.
Milam reached on an infield single and Long doubled to left before Gardner drove them both home winth a two-run double.
The Knights didn't spend any time hanging their heads, coming back for the winning run in the sixth and Decker took care of the rest.
Decker improved to 6-1 on the mound this season and Northview won its 20th game of the year against eight losses.
Class 4A Sectional
2B -- Nv (Decker, Glenn), THN (Long, Finzel). 3B -- Nv (Clark), THN (Rosselli).
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