|Fri, Jul 25, 2014 07:27 AM
April 23, 2014 | 01:04 PM
For much of the game Friday night at Ed Jaegers Memorial Field in Lanesville, North Harrison lefty Micah Napper was in a groove.
Carrying a no-hitter through five innings, Napper earned the win against the Eagles, going 6-2/3 innings, striking out nine. He would give up three hits in North Harrison's 8-1 victory.
"Micah was Micah out there," North Harrison coach Jamie Polk said. "He throws four pitches for strikes and threw them well today."
Lanesville's pitching struggled early, allowing a pair of runs to North Harrison, each the result of four free passes at the plate. Stop-gap Brenden Bube came on in relief and battled the rest of the way.
It wasn't until the fifth inning that North Harrison broke the game open.
Clinging to a 2-0 lead, a walk to Jacob Faith and a line-drive single to center by Brad Nowak set the table for Alex Flock. Out of the clean-up spot, Flock did just that. He pulled a pitch down the right-field line toward the fence, bringing both runs home.
Upon sliding into third base, Lanesville's throw to the bag was off the mark, allowing Flock to scurry home.
"(Our guys) started off bad, but they stayed with it," Polk said. "We had big at-bats. Flock had a huge hit. He's been hot and will be a great player. He is figuring it out."
The consecutive hits in the fifth were the first allowed by Bube.
"Bube came in and did a beautiful job getting us out and holding them at bay," Lanesville coach Rusty McCubbins said. "He had a few too many walks. He got one up in the zone, and Flock pulled a good one."
The three-run inning gave North Harrison a more comfortable lead the rest of the way.
Early on, it wasn't comfortable for either ball club. Polk said his team struggled from the get-go with focus.
"We had a bad start and weren't ready when we got off the bus," Polk said. "I'm happy with our kids, but it's being young and learning."
Lanesville starting pitcher Jake Chanley had trouble finding his command. He walked the first three batters then hit Flock with a pitch. An error on a throw to second from catcher Caleb Gresham, along with wild pitches, allowed one run to score.
When Bube entered in relief, he induced a ground-ball double play off the bat of Napper, trading two outs for an additional run by the Cougars.
"Our guys got too pumped," McCubbins said. "It's not the rivalry it is with South Central, but any time you see a county team you get pumped early. We felt like we gave them a couple early. We didn't play our best baseball."
Base runners were limited for the purple and white due to the arm of Napper. Lanesville never had one of its three runners through the first five innings reach second base. In the fifth, Dakota Mills attempted to steal second but was cut down by Nowak.
"Tip your cap to Napper," McCubbins said. "He's a lefty that hits spots. He does a great job, and his catcher blocked balls like a pro."
Lanesville broke the no-hit bid in the sixth inning. Gregory Daly hit a sharp single through the North Harrison infield to lead off the frame.
"Daly did a good job busting up the no-hitter out of the nine hole," McCubbins said.
A walk drawn by Steven Shaffer and a single by Bube loaded the bases for Josh Barnes. In his at-bat, Barnes lifted a ball to deep left for a sac fly, advancing Daly home. Shaffer, however, was cut down at third for a double play.
Napper ended the inning with a strikeout.
North Harrison added three insurance runs in the final inning. Faith and Nowak reached on hits. Flock loaded the bases drawing a walk, while Napper brought Faith home when he was hit by a pitch.
Bringing home the final two runs, Gage Arnold connected a pitch from Bube for a single.
Trying to start a rally, Jon Ferree began the bottom of the seventh with a single for Lanesville. Eventually loading the bases, Napper walked two in the final frame. He gave way to senior closer Cameron Smith, who needed one pitch to end the game, inducing a ground ball by Shaffer.
"Cameron has done that for us all year," Polk said. "He's pitched in six games and comes in, throw hard for strikes. It worked out, just one pitch."
McCubbins said he came away pleased with the performance.
"We tell our kids that we are a 1A school and we compete with 3A schools," he said. "That doesn't happen throughout the whole state. It happens with us and South Central a lot. I didn't see pouting or upsetness after a loss. It shows we are maturing."
McCubbins said the team, which dropped to 3-2, is off to a solid start despite several rain outs.
"We feel like it's a good start to the season mentally," McCubbins said. "We don't have any superstars. We feel any day that any player in our lineup can come up with the big hit."
Daly reached three times for Lanesville with a single, a walk and an error. Gresham drew a pair of walks for the Eagles.
At the top of the Cougars' lineup, Faith and Nowak scored three times each. They combined for three hits and three walks as well.
Napper earned the win, while Chanley took the loss.
Bube pitched seven innings of relief, striking out eight while walking six.
"Lanesville battled in there," Polk said. "Until the fourth inning, they hung right there."
Lanesville will play at Clarksville tomorrow (Thursday) before returning home to face Borden on Friday at 5 p.m.
North Harrison, meanwhile, will travel to rival Corydon Central tomorrow at 6 p.m.
North Harrison 200 030 3 – 8 5 1
Lanesville 000 001 0 – 1 3 1
W – Napper, L – Chanley.
3B – Flock (NH).