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Chiefs slam Royals for district crown

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
Everything came together for the Northview Chiefs in the district championship game against Jay on Thursday night.
Coach Coy Campbell got a quality start from his pitcher, Greg Skipper, a good relief appearance by Shane Preble, timely hitting from his lineup and sound defense in the field. All of it added up to a 9-1 victory over their rival – a team they had failed to beat in two regular season contests.
Northview had jumped on top of the Royals 6-1 in the fifth inning. With bases loaded and one out, Ricky Pearson put the game away with a soaring grand slam over the left field fence. In the commotion and celebration surrounding home plate, one of the runners failed to touch home plate and was called out – giving the Chiefs three runs instead of four.
But, it was still plenty for Preble who came in to pitch the sixth and seventh innings. He never gave the Jay offense a chance to mount a comeback as he struck out five of the final six batters to secure the district championship for Northview.
Skipper pitched a gem as the starter. In five innings pitched, he surrendered only two hits and one earned run. He walked one batter and struck out five in earning the win.
Northview took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Ty Williams reached base on an error and Ron Darby followed by reaching on a bunt. With runners on first and second, Alvin Hayes advanced the runners on a swinging bunt. Williams tagged and scored on a fly ball by Michael Eady.
Kyle Williams increased the lead in the bottom of the second as he nailed a Jay pitch over the shortstop's head for a double – scoring Dawson Chavers and Pearson to make the score 3-0.
The Chiefs added another in the bottom of the third. With one out, Seth Sims reached on a base hit. With two out, Eady came through with a clutch double to give Northview a four-run advantage.
Jay threatened in the top of the fourth after the leadoff batter scorched a double. The next batter hit a long, fly ball to straight-away center where Alvin Hayes made the catch and made a strong throw to third to put out the tagging runner. His throw was on the money, but just late. Skipper got out of the inning by forcing the next two batters to ground out – stranding the runner at third.
Jay was able to get on the board in the fifth inning. The leadoff batter reached as a high fly ball found a hole between the rightfielder and secondbaseman. A bunt moved the runner to second and a single put runners at the corners. The runner scored on a ground ball to the shortstop that was just shy of being a double play. The inning ended with the next batter who grounded to the shortstop. But, Jay was back in the game, 4-1.
The Chiefs wasted no time in putting thoughts of a comeback out of the minds of the Jay team. An error allowed the leadoff batter, Hayes, to reach in the bottom of the fifth. A bunt by Sims flew into the air and over the thirdbaseman who was rushing toward the plate to put runners at first and second. Dusty Gay laid down a perfect sacrifice to advance the runners. Then, the Jay pitcher was called for a balk and both runners advanced, making the score 5-1. Eady followed with a walk and a high fly ball by Mark Barraclough finds a hole along the right field line that scores Sims. With runners at first and second, Dustin Kelly was grazed by a Jay fastball and loaded the baseball for Pearson who knocked the ball into the parking area beyond left field. The baserunning error cost the Chiefs a second out, but the homer gave them a 9-1 lead. A grounder by the next batter ended the inning.
Preble came on to relieve Skipper in the top of the sixth and struck out the side. He came on in the seventh and struck out two and forced the other into a ground out to end the game.
For the Chiefs and their fans, the victory came after losing both regular season contests to their Jay. One of those was a 14-inning marathon with Jay coming out on top, 3-2.
The District Champion Chiefs will host the first round of the state playoffs next Tuesday. Time has yet to be determined, but it is likely to begin at 6 p.m. They could face either Bonifay, Blountstown or Wewahtchka.
The Chiefs have an overall record of 18-6 on the season.