Knights knot top of TEC with victory over Tigers

Knights knot top of TEC with victory over Tigers

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Knights knot top of TEC with victory over Tigers

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HAGERSTOWN, Ind.

Del Caudill remembered.

Three meetings. Three leads. Three comebacks.

Hagerstown had defeated Northeastern three times en route to three baseball titles in 2013.

And while Hagerstown is still in a good position for a third straight Tri-Eastern Conference title, there was one thing Northeastern had to do to remain in contention Tuesday.

The Knights did just that.

Caudill pitched a complete game shutout, held the Tigers to four hits and struck out six as the Knights defeated Hagerstown 4-0.

Both teams are now 4-1 in TEC play, in a three-way tie atop the standings with Union County (10-7, 4-1). Centerville is 1-1.

“We seem to be more of a team this year,” Caudill said. “We all have the right mindset, like to win, always want to win.”

And for the first time since 2012, a TEC team has done that against Hagerstown.

The Tigers lost their TEC opener in 2012, then won six in a row to claim the conference outright. They went 7-0 in 2013 and entered Tuesday as the only remaining unbeaten in TEC play at 4-0.

Kessler Fisher led off the game with a single and eventually scored on an RBI single from Garrett Dill.

Jordan Allen added an RBI double in the second inning and Austin Kenworthy had an RBI single in the third.

Fisher had two hits and scored two runs, while Kenworthy and Skyler Ashcraft each also had two hits.

“We’ve been really working on our approach at the plate here lately, … so we’re actually a lot better two-strike hitting team now than what we were two weeks ago,” first-year Northeastern coach Steve Bray said. “We’re shortening things up, we’re doing a little better of putting the ball in play when we need to.”

And the Knights were not taking a 4-0 lead for granted.

They led 4-0 in last year’s TEC loss to Hagerstown. They led 3-0 in a Wayne County championship meeting and they led 8-0 in a sectional semifinal.

Hagerstown won all three meetings.

“We had to know, with the changes they’ve went through and the seasons they’ve had and what happened to them last year, they’re going to come in here and want to take it — and tonight they did,” Hagerstown coach Brad Catey said.

The Knights tried to add on in the fifth inning as Conner Silvers led off with a double and Dill reached on an error.

However, the Knights called a hit and run and Hagerstown pitcher Sam Reagan snagged a liner off the bat of Craig Dingwerth, doubled off pinch runner Dominik Hoffman at first and first baseman Jonah McKissick threw to second to complete a triple-play.

“That’s one of those chances for momentum. We didn’t capitalize,” Catey said. “Sam pitched a pretty good game. … They hit the ball hard, a few times he left it up, but that was a great play. He caught it, fired it over to Jonah, Jonah threw it over to second.”

Reagan struck out five over six innings, before Tyler Funkhouser struck out one in a scoreless seventh.

Funkhouser had two hits for the Tigers, while Reagan and Dylan Woolard each had one.

Reagan walked to lead off the bottom of the seventh, but Northeastern catcher Allen picked him off.

Hagerstown plays host to Centerville May 15 and Northeastern plays at Winchester that day.

Northeastern hosts Lincoln May 20 and the Tigers play at Union City May 22. Union County’s final two conference games are at home against Tri High on May 15 and on the road at Centerville on May 20.

The last time there was a share for the TEC title was 2004, when Centerville, Lincoln and Union County shared it.

In 2003, Hagerstown, Northeastern and Union County shared the title.

“Luckily, we’re still in the conference race,” Catey said. “We’ve got a big one with Centerville and one with Union City and we could still finish with a tie at the top if things work our way, so we have some things to work for, we just have to take tonight and get better.”

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