by Bill Turner
Cave Spring was on cruise control. Northside was grasping at straws. Then, the turnaround of the season took place at Knights Field.
Northside, trailing 11-3, took advantage of some timely hitting along with Cave Spring’s sudden inability to find the strike zone, as the Vikings scored nine runs in the top of the sixth to advance with the VHSL baseball state quarterfinal 12-11 win Tuesday evening.
Northside’s Todd Dunbar had the key hit with a three-run homer in the decisive inning during which Northside benefited from seven walks. The Vikings had taken a 3-0 lead in the top of the first before Cave Spring rallied to tie the game in the third.
The Knights would plate five more runs in the fourth and three in the fifth for the seemingly safe 11-3 lead.
“We live for another day,” Viking head coach Ed Culicerto said, shaking his head. “I’ve never been in a comeback like this.”
“We had to get baserunners to get a shot,” Culicerto added. “We’ve battled all year. Our guys were fighting to the last out.”
“It was a crazy night,” Dunbar noted. The left handed Viking starter had been roughed up before leaving the mound after being hit by a vicious line drive. “I knew I was done pitching after I got hit. But, I was not coming out of the lineup.”
Dunbar atoned an inning later with the 3-run blast. “They had been throwing me curves all game. I was waiting on that one and it was right down the middle.”
“You can’t walk seven in one inning,” Knights head coach Dave Dunstan noted. “There’s literally nothing anyone can do. That’s high school baseball.”