GREENVILLE — With two runners on, no outs and the top of the order up the Greenville Yellow Jackets liked their chances to score the tying or even game-winning runs.
Unfortunately, Northview pitcher Brian Killinger settled down and the defense, as they had all night, made plays to hold on for a 3-1 win over the Yellow Jackets on Thursday.
But then again, making plays was the difference in the game. Northview did, Greenville did not.
“We just have to make some plays,” Greenville coach Mike Rasmussen said. “On offense and defense we had a couple of opportunities to make some plays and just didn’t make them.”
The loss spoiled an outstanding pitching performance by sophomore Parker Syrjala. Syrjala worked all seven innings, allowing just three runs, one earned and three hits. He struck out nine and walked two.
“It’s frustrating. Everyone wants to do well,” Rasmussen said. “We were there at the end. We gave ourselves a chance, but we have to come up with a couple of bigs plays and hits. We just weren’t able to do that tonight.”
Greenville’s Austin Sherman walked to start the bottom of the seventh inning. Jacob Crittenden singled (2-for-3) to put runners on first and second. A passed ball moved both runners into scoring position with the top of the order up.
Syrjala struck out for the first out. Tyler Orr fouled out on a nice sliding catch by first baseman Kody Alber in front of his dugout for the second out.
Tre Nelson then hit a line shot right at the second baseman, who knocked it down and ended the game with a throw to first. Five feet left or right and it would have been a game tying single, but instead Northview got to breath a sigh of relief.
“That made us a little uncomfortable. It’s high school baseball and anything can happen,” Denton said of the final inning. “Kody made a great play that got us an out.”
Ben Clinkscale earned the win in six innings of work. He allowed five hits, three walks and one run. He struck out six. Killinger got the save.
“We left a lot of runners on third base and that is kind of disappointing,” Denton said. “We’ve been working on executing, whether it’s a fly ball or sacrificing. We have to get that guy in and we left a lot of them out there.”
Northview did have three sacrifice bunts, but failed on a suicide squeeze attempt in the first inning.
The Wildcats scored twice in the second inning for a 2-0 lead. Both runs were unearned. Greenville got a run back in the third on an RBI single by Orr.
“We took decent cuts. But credit them too for making good pitches,” Rasmussen said. “We played pretty good defense, but made some mistakes that led to a couple of their runs in the second inning.”
Brad Gilbert had two hits for Greenville. Syrjala had a hit and reached base twice on walks.
Alber had two hits, one an RBI double off the left field fence.
Northview improved to 15-10 and 8-7 in the O-K White. They swept a three game series with Greenville this week.
The Yellow Jackets dropped to 10-12 overall and 5-10 in the league.
Greenville is in action again on Wednesday at Cedar Springs.