LINDEN — North Montgomery was playing perfect baseball in the sectional with wins over South Vermillion and No. 3 ranked Lebanon until it ran into the best hitting team they faced all season in the final game.
Northview pounded Charger pitching to a 13-0 five-inning win in the Class 3A Sectional Championship at North Montgomery on Monday. The win gives the Knights their first sectional title since 2017 as they advance to play Edgewood in the Danville Regional semis on Saturday.
Monday's championship appearance was the Chargers' third in the last four seasons.
“We told our kids afterward that we gave ourselves a chance to win a championship and that’s really all you can ask for,” North Montgomery coach Ryan Nuppnau said. “We were able to get a win on Wednesday, get a win this morning against Lebanon. We were able to get here and that’s huge. Unfortunately we weren’t able to stay close to give ourselves a chance at the end of the game. Hats off to Northview, they hit the ball like crazy.”
Northview pounded out 14 hits, scoring two in the second, four in the third, and sent the game to the 10-run limit with a seven-run fifth inning.
“They had kids 1-9 that can put the ball in play, and hit with power,” Nupnnau said. “It’s tough, especially when you don’t see them in the regular season. You have no idea how to plan, how to prep, and how to prepare for them. They’re a heck of a team, but proud of our kids, they didn’t really give up. They kept fighting and did the best they could.”
Dylan Zentko powered the No. 15 ranked Knights (17-4) with three hits and a solo home-run. Nathan Rissler added a home-run and three hits, while Gavin Morris hit a three-run no-doubter in the fifth.
Zentko was also dominant on the mound. After clinching the win in relief in the 11-4 extra-inning semi-final victory against Frankfort Monday afternoon, the senior tossed a two-hit shutout in the championship game.
The two lone Charger hits came off the bat of freshman Ross Dyson, who was one of three freshman starters for the Chargers on Monday night. In total, North Montgomery had 21 freshmen and sophomores in 2021 — making it a roster full of youth after a missed 2020 season. The young Chargers (16-14) started the season on a long win streak, matured througout a tough Sagamore Conference schedule, and ended the season playing their best baseball.
“Defensively with the whole COVID stuff, kids quarantined and shuffling things around, and having 21 freshmen and sophomores,” Nuppnau said. “Those sophomores lost a whole year, so basically we had 21 freshmen this year, trying to figure things out it wasn’t easy for the kids. I felt bad for them. Some that might have gotten the short end of the stick just because of different situations and it wasn’t easy on us coaches figuring it out, because they’re all good players. Our defense we kind of got in a groove the last month here, figuring out personnel wise, defensively and pitching was also big. And offensively we started to understand strategy more.”
North Montgomery will lose just one senior in catcher Jacob Braun, who was a four-year starter behind the plate, helping the Chargers to their last sectional title in 2018.
“We will miss a key player in Jacob Braun,” Nuppnau said. “Even though he is our lone senior, he means so much to the team especially when it comes to pitching and defense. He makes some unbelievable stops back there. He calls great games, keeping the batters off. He’s going to be missed back there for sure.”