The high school baseball teams of Terre Haute North and Plainfield proved Monday that what a batter does early in the game is not necessarily indicative of what he will do in the late innings.
In the morning semifinal game of the Class 4A Terre Haute South Sectional, North used a seventh-inning RBI single by designated-hitter Nathan Will — who had hit into two double plays earlier — to slip past Martinsville 4-3.
In the second semifinal contest, Matt Spaulding — who had walked three times with no official at-bats against Northview pitcher Craig Peters — launched a walk-off solo home run to right-center field in the bottom of the seventh to lead Plainfield over the Knights 6-5.
North’s victory was aided by its defense turning double plays in the first and third innings, T.J. Collett’s two-run single in the third and Sam Wolf’s RBI double in the third — not to mention a solid complete-game pitching performance by right-hander Austin Hicks, who allowed only three hits.
“Austin always does a great job,” North coach Shawn Turner told the Tribune-Star. “He gives us an opportunity to win every time he goes on the hill. Today wasn’t necessarily his best stuff. But I can tell you right now, scattering three [hits] is about as good as it gets. We had some really nice defense behind him.”
Turner also said he was not surprised by Will, who finished 1 for 4, delivering a key hit in a pressure situation.
“That’s indicative of Nathan’s performance all season long,” the veteran coach emphasized. “I’ve become accustomed to watching him come through in the clutch. … His bat’s in the lineup non-stop because of that.”
Will explained that he kept Turner’s advice in his head on every at-bat — the bad and the good.
“Since the first inning, coach said to wait back and take it the opposite way because [Martinsville pitcher Mason Kutruff’s] ball tails a lot. So I was really trying to sit back and put something in right field. All game [until the seventh inning], I had just missed … but this time I really connected.”
Will’s line-drive single to right plated Zach Milam from third base with one out.
In the second game, the triumphant Quakers got home runs from pitcher Justin Martin (solo in the fourth), Tyler Garzinski (a two-run shot in the fifth) and Spaulding’s solo bomb in the seventh.
Bo Stewart bashed a three-run homer in the third to give Northview a 3-0 lead. Although the Knights finished with a modest six hits, outgoing coach Scott McDonald said his batters made consistent solid contact.
“We hit the ball well today,” he assessed. “It was kinda unfortunate that they were able to track some of those balls down in the gaps. … It wasn’t a good day for us. We just could not find any grass at all.”
McDonald, who had been either an assistant or head coach at Northview for 23 years, also explained his resignation, which he said he decided on at the beginning of this season.
“It’s been a great experience for me, but it’s time for a change,” he said. “My daughter [Madison] is getting recruited a lot for volleyball, so I need to spend some more time with my family. And this is going to allow that, but I’ll still be at every game.”
McDonald believes that Craig Trout should be his successor, although no official decision has been made. McDonald will remain volleyball coach and a counselor at Northview.
“Now I’m just going to be a fan of baseball,” he added.
Player-wise, Northview graduates four seniors — Peters, Devin Clark, Brock Smith and Travis Hakman.
“It’s a good class and a good group of young men,” McDonald summarized.
TH North 4, Martinsville 3
TERRE HAUTE NORTH (AB-R-H-RBI) — Sevigny ss 3-1-1-0, Milam 3b 1-2-0-0, Collett c 3-0-1-2, Wolf 1b 2-0-1-1, Booth pr 0-0-0-0, Will dh 4-0-1-1, Massey pr 0-0-0-0, Long rf 0-0-0-0, Dransfield cf 3-0-0-0, Pittman lf 3-0-0-0, Eilbracht 2b 3-0-2-0, Hicks p 2-1-0-0. TOTALS 24-4-6-4.
MARTINSVILLE (AB-R-H-RBI) — Moscrip lf 2-0-1-0, Lavender 2b 2-1-0-0, Milner ss 3-0-0-0, Elkins 1b 3-0-0-0, Thomas 3b 2-1-1-1, Hammack rf 3-1-0-0, Higginbotham c 2-0-0-0, Walls dh 2-0-1-1, Miranda pr 0-0-0-0, Kerr pr 0-0-0-0, Kutruff p 0-0-0-0, Newman cf 3-0-0-1. TOTALS 22-3-3-3.
TH North 003 000 1 -- 4
Martinsville 000 021 0 -- 3
E — Collett, Sevigny. DP — THN 2, M 2. LOB — THN 8, M 3. 2B — Wolf. SH — Milam. SB — Eilbracht, Lavender. CS — Thomas.
TH North IP H R ER BB SO
Hicks (W, 9-2) 7 3 3 2 4 7
Martinsville IP H R ER BB SO
Kutruff (L, 4-4) 7 6 4 4 6 6
WP — Kutruff. PB — Collett. HBP — Wolf (by Kutruff), Wolf (by Kutruff). Catcher’s interference — Collett.
Next — North took a 23-6 record into Monday evening’s sectional championship game against Plainfield. Martinsville finished 10-17.
Plainfield 6, Northview 5
NORTHVIEW (AB-R-H-RBI) — Pierce lf 3-0-1-1, Ganley 3b 3-1-0-0, Peters p 4-0-0-0, B.Stewart c 4-1-1-3, Newton 1b 4-0-1-0, D.Clark rf 2-1-0-0, B.Smith 2b 2-1-2-0, Harden dh 2-0-1-0, Ball cf-pr-dh 0-0-0-0, T.Stewart ss 1-1-0-1. TOTALS 25-5-6-5.
PLAINFIELD (AB-R-H-RBI) — Gulley cf 4-1-1-0, Hughes rf 3-1-0-0, Spaulding lf 1-1-1-1, Burkhardt 1b 3-1-0-1, Garzinski dh 3-1-2-3, Jones 2b 0-0-0-0, Sparks p 0-0-0-0, Morris p 0-0-0-0, H.Smith 3b 2-0-0-0, Caprarella ss 3-0-0-0, K.Clark c 2-0-0-0, Martin p-2b 3-1-1-1. TOTALS 24-6-5-6.
Northview 003 002 0 -- 5
Plainfield 002 120 1 -- 6
E — D.Clark, Peters, Caprarella, T.Stewart. DP — P 1. LOB — N 6, P 5. 2B — Pierce. HR — B. Stewart (1), Martin (4), Garzinski (3), Spaulding (1). SH — H.Smith. SF — Pierce. SB — T.Stewart. CS — Gulley.
Northview IP H R ER BB SO
Peters (L, 6-2) 6.1 5 6 4 4 5
Plainfield IP H R ER BB SO
Martin 5.2 6 5 3 2 2
Sparks 0.1 0 0 0 0 0
Morris (W, 4-1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
One out when winning run scored.
HBP — K.Clark (by Peters), T.Stewart (by Martin).
Next — Plainfield entered Monday evening’s sectional championship contest against North with a 17-10 mark. Northview ended up 12-12.