NFCA brings end to Chiefs' playoff run
By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
The Northview Chiefs' memorable run through the state baseball playoffs came to an end last Friday as they were defeated in the regional semi-final by North Florida Christian Academy, 8-2.
While solid defense and dominating pitching helped the Chiefs advance to the regional semis, it also was their downfall as several errors led to one big inning for North Florida Christian.
Northview held a one-run lead going into the top of the fourth. But the floodgates opened for NFCA as they came around to score six runs in the inning to take their first lead which proved enough to finish off the Chiefs.
Northview threatened in the bottom of the first. Kyle Williams reached on a hot grounder that went by the first baseman. After Williams steals second, Michael Eady earns a free pass to put men on first and second with no outs. A sacrifice bunt was popped up and caught for the first out of the inning and then Seth Sims loads the bases with the second walk of the inning. But, a strikeout and a pickoff to first ended the opportunity for the Chiefs and kept the game scoreless.
Runs eluded both teams until the bottom of the third. Northview's Ricky Pearson led off the inning with a hard hit ball to the third baseman who misplayed it. Williams laid down a bunt that allowed Pearson to move to second. Eacy followed with a ground ball for the second out, but the runner was able to advance to third on the play. Alvin Hayes then came up with a big clutch hit as he lined a single into right field, giving NHS a 1-0 lead.
But the lead didn't last long. In the top of the fourth, the leadoff batter for NFCA led off with a sharp grounder that was misplayed by the shortstop. The next batter put down a bunt that moved the runner to third and allowed him to reach base. NFCA went with the bunt again and Chiefs' pitcher Greg Skipper fielded the ball and looked to get the lead runner at third, but the throw was late. The third baseman attempted to throw across the infield to get the hitter at first, but the throw was wild. NFCA scored one run on the error and the runners moved to second and third.
NFCA kept things going as the fourth batter of the inning belted a single to center, giving them their first lead of the game, 2-1.
Northview Head Coach Coy Campbell opted for a pitching a change and brought in Shane Preble to replace Skipper.
Preble struck out the first batter he faced for the first out of the inning. But, the next batter lined a hit to right field, allowing two runs to score. NFCA added another run as the next batter lined a hit to centerfield making the score 5-1.
With a runner on first and one out, the following batter lined a grounder to the shortstop. But, several errors on the play allowed the runner to score from first, but they did get the second out of the inning as the hitter tried for second.
The Chiefs finally recorded the third out when the ninth batter of the inning hit a fly ball to left field. The Chiefs had fallen behind, 6-1.
The score remained the same until the top of the seventh. NFCA came around for two more runs and forced Campbell to make another change on the mound as Matt Wood came in to relieve Preble. With runners at second and third, a pitch gets by the catcher and the runner at third trotted home. A double brought home another run two batters later to give NFCA an 8-1 lead.
With one shot to get a rally going, Northview led off the seventh with a single by Kelly Dustin. Pearson followed with another single to put runners at first and second. Williams lined a grounder to the shortstop who who went to second for the first out. With runners at first and third, the NFCA threw a wild pitch that allowed Kelly to score from third.
But, NFCA came through with two strikeouts to finish off the Chiefs, 8-2.
The Chiefs end the season as district champs and finish with an overall record of 20-7.