|Sat, Oct 25, 2014 12:16 AM
|Issue of October 22, 2014
April 30, 2014 | 11:44 AM
The visiting Heritage Hills Patriots rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win over host North Harrison last Wednesday afternoon in a 5-3 decision. Three untimely errors and missed opportunities were a bugaboo for the Cougars, who dropped to 7-4 for the season while the Patriots improved to 8-4.
"That's a nice looking team," North Harrison coach Jamie Polk said. "That's one of the nicest teams we've played. We were right there. We were a hit away. ... We just had plays we didn't make, and there's a difference, where, if we make some plays, we're right there. Those were two good teams."
Neither team scored in the first inning, and Heritage Hills went three-up-and-out in its first two at-bats.
In the bottom of the second, the Cougars had a chance for a big inning, loading the bases with one out as Micah Napper, Gage Arnold and Konnor Voyles all hit singles. With two outs, Noah Yost was hit by a pitch, scoring Napper and leaving bases loaded. That would be the only run the Cougars would garnish out of the situation, however, as Craig Waynescott struck out to end the inning with North Harrison leading 1-0.
"A play that was big, the bases-loaded-one-out, in the (second), and we don't get a hit. Bases loaded in the (second) and we're up 1-0, and we don't get a hit," Polk said. "That's happened to us a couple of times. When you've got a team right there and you put a knockout blow and put a crooked number up, then all of a sudden we've relaxed."
The Patriots got that run back in the top of the third inning. With two outs, pitcher Mason Becher ripped a double. Kenton Crews reached safely on a North Harrison error. Becher scored from third on a passed ball, and the Patriots and Cougars were tied at 1.
The Cougars made their case again in the bottom of the inning with two runs. With two outs, Alex Flock walked then Napper created a scoring threat when the Patriots erred on a ground ball. Arnold then had a big swing for a double to score Flock and Napper for a 3-1 lead.
Heritage Hills, however, stung the Cougars again in the top of the fourth. With one out, North Harrison erred again, allowing Dugan Kippenbrook to reach. With two outs, Logan Wilkerson singled, moving Kippenbrook to third. Jame Ramsey followed with another base hit to score Kippenbrook, and the Cougars' lead was back to one.
"Early in the year, we were making all the plays," Polk said. "We just got a little voodoo on us, I guess. I think it's just part of our process of where we are as a team, getting through that. Once we realize those are the winning plays, you've got to make plays to win the game. Some people think in baseball you don't do that, but there are. There are plays throughout the game that you make to win the game, and the last two nights we just haven't done it."
Both teams blanked out in their next turns at the plate. In the top of the sixth inning, the Patriots took advantage of a big scoring opportunity. With one out, Kippenbrook smacked a double then Cody Siefrig was hit by a pitch. Wilkerson walked to load the bases, and Ramsey ripped a single to score two runs to put the Patriots out in front, 4-3.
"We've got to fix that," Polk said. "The last two games that's what's happened to us. We're right there in the ballgame and about the fifth inning we've had these tough plays, but they're plays we've got to make, and we just haven't made them."
North Harrison had a chance to go back in front when Arnold got his third hit of the day and Napper singled to put runners in scoring position. Heritage Hills made a pitching change at that point, putting Wilkerson on the mound. The Cougars, however, failed to convert as Andreo Battista and Noah Yost both struck out.
"I think our bats got away from us," Polk said. "We hit some balls hard, but we couldn't string together an at-bat. I think that's where it started. We were just kind of back and forth and, when it was 4-3, I thought they had momentum."
The Patriots added another run for good measure in the top of the seventh inning. With two outs, Cory Ebelhar singled and Torrin Madden came in to run. Kippenbrook then had his biggest swing of the night, ripping a long triple to score Madden for a 5-3 lead.
North Harrison put one base runner on in its last at-bat but failed to convert, giving the Patriots the win.
"I thought there were two plays," Polk said. "I thought we had momentum for a while and, when we made the play where we made the error at short, all of a sudden they scored a run. If we make that play, we're up 2-0 and we've got the momentum. They scored that run, and I don't know if the momentum shifted then, but it definitely stopped. ... Then, it was kind of stalemate back and forth."
North Harrison finished with seven hits, with Arnold hitting for two singles and a double and Konner Voyles punching in two singles. From the mound, Arnold struck out four, walked two and hit one Patriots batter. The Cougars had three errors and left seven runners stranded on base.
"Gage threw great," Polk said. "That's a tough luck loss. They're 8-4, and they just beat Jasper. He gave up five or six hits, and they were scattered. They never really stringed stuff together. He didn't have his best stuff tonight. He has pitched a lot better and (with) more velocity. Tonight, he just battled, so I was very proud of him. He's a kid that's really going to be dominant, and it's coming soon. For our level, he's going to be dominant once it starts clicking for him."
Heritage Hills finished with eight hits and one error, with Kippenbrook getting two extra-base hits and Ramsey adding two singles. Becher struck out four, walked one and hit one Cougar batter while Wilkerson finished with two strikeouts. Heritage Hills left six runners on base.
Heritage Hills 001 102 1 – 5 8 1
North Harrison 012 000 0 – 3 7 3
W – Becher (1-0), L – Arnold (2-1).
2B – Becher (NH), Arnold (NH), Kippenbrook (HH); 3B – Kippenbrook (HH).
Records: North Harrison 7-4, Heritage Hills 8-4.