Thanks to the recent implementation of pitch-count rules, the Northview school-record high school baseball strikeout total of 20 that Braydon Tucker achieved Thursday night at the Class 4A Avon Sectional may stand forever.
And thanks also to the pitch-count rules, he wasn't even the winning pitcher, although he scored the winning run as the Knights beat Plainfield 1-0 in nine innings.
Tucker fanned at least two batters in each of the first eight innings, got every member of the Plainfield starting lineup at least once, and gave up just one hit while walking no one.
But Sam Tackett of the Quakers was almost as good, fanning 14 — including every Northview starter at least once — and the Knights never could push a run across.
The pitch-count rule had three applications for this game: a pitcher with no more than 100 pitches would still be eligible for Monday's semifinal and/or championship game, a pitcher with more than 100 pitches was finished for the sectional (unless there's rain on Monday) and a pitcher with 120 pitches had to be removed as soon as he finished the time at bat when the 120 mark was reached.
"We weren't messing around to not have [Tucker] Monday," coach Craig Trout of the Knights said after the game, "and we trust [freshman] Gavin [Morris] with the ball."
So in the top of the ninth, after Northview left two runners on base in both the sixth and seventh innings and had a runner caught stealing to end the eighth, Tucker went to a 2-and-2 count on Kyle Dykins and was lifted for Morris.
"I was nervous," Morris admitted after the game — and why wouldn't he be? — "but I had confidence in my team the whole time. It was just another game of baseball."
Morris got the third strike on Dykins — according to Northview's Scott McDonald, it became Tucker's 20th strikeout since Morris entered with two strikes, even though Tucker doesn't get credit for the third of an inning — and got two more outs, helped by a spectacular catch of a foul ball by fellow freshman Korbin Allen.
Coach Shane Abrell of the Quakers was all in with Tackett, however. The junior passed the 100-pitch mark in the bottom of the eighth and still had a handful of pitches for the bottom of the ninth.
"He's been a bulldog for us all year," said Abrell, a former Terre Haute South assistant and Terre Haute North athletic director who likened Thursday's game to a past battle between A.J. Reed and current Florida Marlin Dillon Peters. "When he's on the mound, it gives our guys a lot of confidence."
Tucker hit the first pitch of the ninth hard to the infield, and got to second on an overthrow of first base. Brigham Booe was walked intentionally — no pitches used there — and both runners moved up on a double steal when Morris faked a bunt.
"A great job by Braydon right there," Trout said later. "Everybody pulls up [to field the bunt] and he makes that read."
Now Morris could be walked intentionally, saving Tackett for another batter, but Dylan Zentko smashed the ball off a pulled-in infielder for a game-winning single.
Plainfield finished the game having had just two baserunners: a leadoff double in the second inning by Tyce Ferrell, and a two-out walk by Morris in the ninth. The Knights finished with five hits, two by Trey Shaw.
"An absolute warrior performance by Braydon Tucker," Trout said afterward, "and what a great job by Sam Tackett too. That was a great job by him."
PLAINFIELD (AB-R-H-RBI) — Sims lf 3-0-0-0, Dorsett cf 4-0-0-0, Mitchell ss 3-0-0-0, Ferrell 1b 3-0-1-0, Knowles dh 2-0-0-0, Leath ph 1-0-0-0, Baker 2b 0-0-0-0, Nichols lf 3-0-0-0, Knoll 3b 3-0-0-0, Dykins c 3-0-0-0, Tackett p 2-0-0-0, Dalton ph 1-0-0-0. Totals 28-0-1-0.
NORTHVIEW (AB-R-H-RBI) — Shaw ss 4-0-2-0, B.Tucker p-2b 4-1-0-0, Booe 2b-3b 3-0-0-0, Morris 3b-p 3-0-1-0, Johnson pr 0-0-0-0, Zentko 1b 4-0-1-1, Timberman pr 0-0-0-0, T.Tucker rf 2-0-1-0, Osborn dh 3-0-0-0, Allen c 0-0-0-0, Swearingen lf 2-0-0-0, Harper ph 0-0-0-0, Nevins cf 3-0-0-0. Totals 28-1-5-1.
E -- Mitchell, Baker. DP — Plainfield 1. LOB — Plainfield 2, Northview 7. 2B — Ferrell. SB — B.Tucker, Booe. CS — T.Tucker, Shaw.
HBP — by Tackett (Harper). T — 2:05.
Next — Northview (23-6) plays Brownsburg in the second semifinal game on Monday. Plainfield finished 12-16-1.