A high school baseball game that had been tense all the way through reached angina-producing heights at the end Monday night, as Northview ended Terre Haute South’s sectional championship run by a single run and a fraction of an inch.
Connor Ganly’s two-out line drive with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning kissed the left-field foul line for a three-run double, and Northview survived an extremely shaky top of the seventh to down the Braves 4-3 for the championship of the Class 4A Plainfield Sectional.
The Knights move on to an 11 a.m. regional date Saturday at Avon against Roncalli, while the Braves will enjoy a regional weekend off for the first time in six years.
South had just one hit Monday off Kodie Girton, yet still led 2-1 going into the bottom of the sixth.
Zach Hull and Connor Pierce opened the inning with singles, but the Knights had wasted some earlier opportunities and this one started to look no different. A failed sacrifice attempt resulted in a forceout at third base, and a line drive out to right field left Northview with runners still at first and second but with two out. Then Bryant Pestoff drew a walk.
“I was really nervous,” said Ganly, a sophomore and one of the smaller Northview players, as he looked back at that moment after the game.
Ganly lined the ball down the line, the umpire signalling the ball was fair. All three runs scored, and suddenly the Knights had their first lead of the evening.
“I was just looking to put the ball in play, try to get the tying run across,” Ganly added. “To get those three runs and to get a two-run lead … it couldn’t have gone any better.”
Some South players disputed the fair-ball call and coach Kyle Kraemer came out on the field in their support. But there was no argument. “[The umpire] said [the ball] hit the line,” Kraemer said after the game.
Northview closer Brock Wheeler was brought in to do his specialty, but instead he walked the first two Braves he faced. South got the runners to second and third after a wild pitch, scored a run on a passed ball and got another runner on base via a walk before Girton, who had returned to the mound from center field, was able to end the game — with both a win and a save.
“We just kept fighting and fighting and hitting the ball,” Girton said afterward. “The team we have, we stick in there and play to the fullest point. We don’t let little things get to us.”
Girton had been unavailable for Northview’s first two sectional games, and was behind immediately on Monday thanks to a walk, a sacrifice, a flyball that advanced the runner to third and an error that allowed the run to score.
South’s lead was 2-0 in the top of the second after another walk, another sacrifice and the Braves’ only hit — a long triple by Warren Rollings, one of the smallest players in the South lineup.
Girton allowed just one more baserunner the next four innings, and his teammates got one run back in the bottom of the second on hits by T.J. Decker and Tyler Wilson and a sacrifice fly by Ganly, who said after the game he wasn’t sure how many other four-RBI games he’d had this season. “Probably not very many,” he concluded.
But the Knights stranded two runners in the third when South pitcher Daniel Marlow speared Decker’s two-out line shot up the middle and got a leadoff hit only to bunt into a double play in the fourth. When the sixth inning came down to two out, it was starting to look like South’s sectional streak would stay alive. Except for Ganly.
“That’s the biggest hit of his life, and probably the biggest one of mine,” coach Scott McDonald said after the game. “He wasn’t even a varsity starter at the beginning of the year, but once he got in the lineup we couldn’t get him out of it.
“We swung the bats pretty good,” McDonald added, “but that’s the thing about baseball in our area, teams play really great defense. But finally everything fell into place for us.”
“That’s a great team over there,” Kraemer said of the Knights. “They hit the ball, and they made us pay.
“I knew we’d battle back [in the seventh inning],” Kraemer added, “and we gave ourselves an opportunity. We just couldn’t execute [at the end].”
Asked about the tension of fighting off so many Northview threats, Kraemer said, “We dodged quite a few bullets. Daniel wasn’t as sharp as we needed him to be against a team like that.”
The South coach wasn’t disappointed, however.
“It was a great year,” Kraemer concluded. “If you’d told me this team was going to win 22 before the year started … it was just outstanding.”
Northview 4, TH South 3
TH South ab r h bi Northview ab r h bi
Johnson ss 2 1 0 0 Girton p-cf-p 3 0 1 0
Marlow p 3 0 0 0 Peters 2b 2 0 1 0
Lannoo dh 3 0 0 0 Hull 1b 3 0 2 0
Prevo cf 0 0 0 0 Pierce rf 3 1 1 0
Tofaute c 3 0 0 0 Decker ss 3 2 1 0
Brock 1b 2 0 0 0 Wilson lf 3 0 2 0
Whitlock rf 1 1 0 0 Pestoff dh 2 0 0 0
Shipley 3b 1 1 0 0 Clark cf-pr 0 1 0 0
Joyner 2b 2 0 0 0 Wheeler p 0 0 0 0
Rollings lf 3 0 1 1 Ganly 3b 2 0 1 4
Glenn c 2 0 0 0
Totals 20 3 1 1 Totals 23 4 9 4
Terre Haute South 110 000 1 — 3
Northview 010 003 x — 4
E — Decker. DP — THS 1. LOB — THS 5, Northview 4. 2B — Ganly. 3B — Rollings. CS — Ganly. SH — Marlow, Peters, Joyner, Whitlock. SF — Ganly.
Terre Haute South IP H R ER W K
Marlow (L, 3-5) 6 9 4 4 1 4
Northview IP H R ER W K
Girton (W, 4-0; Sv, 1) 7 1 2 1 4 3
Wheeler 0 0 1 0 2 0
Wheeler pitched to 2 batters in 7th.
WP — Girton. PB — Glenn 2. T — 1:44.
Next — Northview (21-8) plays Roncalli at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Class 4A Avon Regional. South finished 22-9.