Tippecanoe Valley senior Evan Myers delivers a pitch during Wednesday evening's sectional game against Knox. Photos by Gary Nieter
Tippecanoe Valley senior Evan Myers delivers a pitch during Wednesday evening's sectional game against Knox. Photos by Gary Nieter
LAKEVILLE – With the playoffs requiring a team’s best effort to stay alive, the Tippecanoe Valley Viking baseball team put together one of its finest performances of the year in a 2-0 sectional win over Knox at Newton Park in Lakeville. The Vikings are peaking at the right time, now having won four in a row after the quarterfinal victory.

The Redskins threatened early on in the game, with leadoff hitter Jaden Strong ripping a single to begin the game. A bunt by the two hitter would advance Strong to second with just one out. It looked as if he might score on an opposite field single by the three hitter, but Viking right fielder Issiac Ramsey made a tremendous diving catch to keep the game scoreless. Valley starter Evan Myers would strike out cleanup man Nolan Short to end the inning.

Ramsey wasn’t done making highlight plays. In the top of the second, Knox was able to string together a couple more base hits, but were held scoreless once again thanks to a nice play by the Valley right fielder. With a Redskin hitter on first, eight hitter Raymond Boyd laced a hit to right. Fielding it on a hop, Ramsey threw a bullet to third to gun down the overly aggressive lead runner to end the inning.

Valley’s first hit came in the bottom of the second on a single from Cameron Manuel. He’d end the inning stranded on first after a couple of his teammates flew out to end the second. Myers got it going on the mound in the top of the third, retiring the Redskins in order and picking up his third strikeout in as many innings.

The Vikings had their first real scoring chance in the bottom half of the inning, with leadoff man Hunter Craft singling and then stealing second a pitch later with just one out. Valley would not be able to get him across, leaving the game scoreless after three. Luckily for Valley, Myers was really beginning to feel it on the mound, striking out two in the top of the fourth while retiring the side in order once again.

Feeding off of the momentum their starter was providing, the Vikings were finally able to break the tie in the bottom half of the fourth. Marcus Bernicky would reach first to lead off the inning after an error by the Knox shortstop. Manuel would single in his second straight trip to the plate to put runners on the corners with just one out. That brought up Cody Smith to the plate, and Smith would deliver on a groundout to first. The ball was bobbled just enough to give Bernicky the chance to book it for home. He’d be safe without a play, and for the first time in the ballgame, Valley held the lead.

While Myers’ consecutive hitters retired streak ended in the top of the fifth at eight on a two out single, no damage was done. The hurler earned his sixth punch out of the game on some high heat to end the inning and put his team six outs away from victory.

The Vikings doubled the lead in the bottom half in the frame on an RBI single by Craft. After Ramsey walked to begin the frame, he would steal second and advance to third on a passed ball. He’d score not long later as Craft reached first on an infield single. The Valley leadoff hitter would make his way to third as well with nobody out, but three straight Viking strikeouts would end the rally in its tracks.

Myers once again handled business in the top of the sixth, getting some timely help from his defense. Catcher Annikan Pettit threw out a Knox base runner attempting to steal second to clear the bases and put two outs on the board. Myers took it from there, getting yet another punch out to end the inning with no harm done.

Valley put runners on the corners once again in the bottom of the sixth but were unable to extend the lead. With their season on the line, the Redskins made it interesting in the top of the seventh, stringing together a couple of base hits to put two runners on and the go-ahead run at the plate with one out. Battling through the adversity, Myers was able to generate some soft contact that was easily played by his infielders to put the game to bed.

Myers finished his night allowing five runs and striking out eight in the win. Valley (12-9) is back at Newton Thursday evening for the semifinal game against host school John Glenn.