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home : sports : local sports July 18, 2019

6/1/2019 7:28:00 PM
North Lincoln Wins State Championship

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer


North Lincoln needed one more win to take the state championship.  If they could win Saturday night's game, it would all be over.  If not, they'd have another chance on Sunday.

Seth Whitley did what he needed to do for the Knights; he gave up seven runs, but he finished the game and thanks to good hitting and some outstanding fielding, the Knights got the win.  For North Lincoln, it was their first-ever baseball state championship.  

How it happened

For game two, the Knights were listed as the 'visiting' team so they batted first. Trey Cooper started on the mound for Randleman. Leadoff batter Sam Brady struck out.  Matt Heavner then singled to left field and Seth Whitley, who was the starting pitcher for North Lincoln, walked.  Jake Soorus, who drove in the two runs in the first game, took a called strike three as did Jake Quilla to end the top half of the first inning.

In the bottom of the first, Owen Strickland hit the ball toward Soorus and it slipped under his glove.  It was ruled a hit.  Dawson Edwards then bunted to move Strickland to second base on a fielder's choice.  Whitley then hit Ramsey Petty with a pitch.  Matt Kemp, who pitched a great game but lost in game one, playing shortstop in the second game, hit the ball to centerfield and Strickland scored to give the Tigers their first lead in the series.  Nick Neal, who had 10 home runs this season, came to the plate with runners on first and second.  He walked, loading the bases. A passed ball scored another run for Randleman and both of the other runners moved up a base. Dominick Poole, who went 0-3 in the first game, then hit the ball to right field and Jake Quilla not only caught the ball for the second out; he threw Petty out at home--but the Knights had given up two runs and trailed 2-0 after one inning.

Tanner Brumfield led off the second inning and took a base on balls.  George Fox also walked.  Daniel Carter then bunted in a sacrifice attempt but he beat Cooper's throw to first to load the bases with nobody out.  Landon Reeves was hit by a pitch sending Brumfield home and the score was 2-1, still with nobody out.  Brady hit the ball to centerfield and Fox scored to tie the score.  Heavner then hit the ball to the shortstop who caught it and threw Brady out at first base.  The double play was followed by a groundout to second by Whitley that ended the inning for the Knights, but they had tied the score at two runs apiece. 

In the bottom of the second, Randleman went three up and three down to keep the score 2-2.

In the top of the third, Jake Soorus led off taking a walk on four straight pitches.  Quilla also walked.  With his pitcher obviously having control problems, Randleman coach Jake Smith moved Dominick Poole to the mound.   Brumfield popped up the ball, but it was dropped.  Quilla was thrown out at second because he thought the ball was going to be caught.  Soorus moved to third.  With runners at first and third, Fox lined the ball to the second baseman for the second out.  Daniel Carter then grounded out to short to end the inning for the Knights. 

Strickland hit the ball to first base; it hit the bag and was popped up to the second baseman, but Strickland was on base with a hit.  Edwards hit the ball to short, but a mishandled ball resulted in an error and put a second runner on base.  Ramsey Petty bunted back to the mound; Whitley threw to third but didn't get the runner there, but the throw to first did get Petty.  The play left runners at second and third with one out.  Kemp then walked to load the bases bringing Nick Neal to the plate.  Neal grounded out to short, but the fielder's choice out at first base drove in another run making it 3-2.  Poole hit the ball up the middle scoring two more runs.  Connor Sterling had another hit and the Tigers scored another run to make it 6-2.  Brooks Brannon then grounded out to short and finally ended the inning.

Landon Reeves walked on four pitches to start the Knights half of the fourth inning.  Sam Brady then struck out.  Matt Heavner had a hit to centerfield.  Then Seth Whitley struck out for the second out of the inning.  A wild pitch move the runners to second and third.  Soorus then hit the ball to short, but the shortstop booted the ball and Reeves scored to make it 6-3.  Quilla hit the ball to deep right field to score Heavner and Soorus made it all the way from first to pull the Knights to within a run.  Tanner Brumfield hit the ball to the shortstop to end the inning, but North had cut the lead to 6-5.   

Two fly outs got the first two Randleman batters in the fourth inning; then Whitley got the third out on a strikeout.  

North still needed runs, trailing by one as they batted in the 5th inning.  Fox took a called third strike for the first out.  Daniel Carter grounded out to second.  Reeves hit the ball to the left fielder to end the inning for the Knights. 

Petty started the fifth for the Tigers with a single.  Kemp hit the ball to third base; the Knights got Petty at second but not Kemp.  Kemp stole second base; then a fly out to centerfield got the second out, but a hit by Poole scored Kemp to make it 7-5.  A hit by Strickland to centerfield might have scored another run, but assuming the throw would be to the plate, he was thrown out at second before the runner scored, ending the inning with the score still 7-5.   

In the top of the sixth, Brady was hit by a pitch.  Heavner then hit the ball down the left field line.  His double moved Brady to third.  Whitley then hit a fly to left field scoring Brady.  Heavner went to third on the throw to the plate.  Soorus then grounded out to second, but Heavner scored on the throw to first to tie the score.  Quilla grounded out, but North had tied the score after 5½ innings. 

In the bottom of the sixth, the first batter hit the ball to third, but the throw to first went over Soorus's head and the batter went to second.  A bunt got the first out, but the runner went to third.  Whitley then hit the batter with a pitch to put runners on first and third with one out.  Matt Heavner then picked up a grounder and stepped on second, then threw to first to complete a double play and the Knights escaped the bottom of the sixth without allowing another run.   

With the score tied, Brumfield hit a line drive out to the rightfielder.  Fox popped up to the shortstop for the second out.  Daniel Carter then hit the ball to the shortstop and reached on an error as he bobbled the ball. Carter stole second.  Reeves hit the ball to centerfield scoring Carter and for the first time in the game, North led 8-7.  Reeves stole second and Brady hit the ball to the left field corner scoring Reeves.  That prompted Randleman to make another pitching change as Dawson Edwards, who finished the first game on the mound for the Tigers, became the new pitcher.  A wild pitch moved Brady to third.  Heavner walked and Whitley finally hit a fly out to rightfield, but with two outs, the Knights had scored two more runs and led 9-7 after 6½ innings. 

Whitley had given up seven runs and had allowed a lot of base runners, but he was three outs away from a complete game and a win.  The first batter reached, but Petty was called out on strikes.  Neal, the power hitter, was the next batter. He hit the ball to shortstop and Heavner pulled off another double play, ending the game and giving the North Lincoln Knights their first-ever baseball state championship. 

Joey Cobb, who won the first game on the mound for the Knights, was named the MVP of the championship series.



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