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Cougars earn split in Madison twin-bill

North Harrison’s baseball team broke even this weekend in a road trip to Madison.
In game one, the Cougars fought off a late rally by the hosts to score a 8-4 victory. Game two was a different story, however, as the Cubs proved they had the moxie to survive the first disappointment in a 9-2 win over North (11-3).
“Scott Burdin took a no-hitter to fifth in the first game, so we were really pleased about that but we lost Joel Culbertson for the day right off when he was hit in the finger to start the game,” North Harrison coach Danny Schmidt said. “It just got smashed between the ball and the bat, so we lost our leadoff hitter, our No. 1 pitcher and a super infielder in one blow. He’s got a chipped bone and will probably miss four or five days.
“Burdin pitched a good game. I think he struck out three and walked four, which is a pretty solid performance. In the second game, Justin (Watkins) didn’t pitch bad. He gave up two home runs and I five of the nine runs came on two home runs. Sometimes those things you just can’t help. He went into the sixth, so that helped us out and he’ll continue to improve, no doubt about that.”
With one out in the top of the second, Todd Winchell walked and one out later, Burdin reached on an error. Matt Kiesler walked and Doug Martin was hit by a pitch, scoring Winchell. Ty Rothrock then knocked in two runs with a single.
In the third, Shanon Miller and Greg Hamilton singled, Winchell walked, Matt Jones hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Miller and Hamilton scored on a wild pitch.
The Cougars plated a couple of more runs in the fourth.
Rothrock reached on an error, Gary Fessel was hit by a pitch, and moved up one base on a wild pitch. Miller then hit a sacrifice fly to right to score one, Hamilton reached on an error to score Fessel and Winchell doubled in Hamilton.
Madison came back in the sixth as Josh Burris and Chance Barnes both singled, and with two outs, Curby Goetz reached on an error at third, allowing both runs to score.
Then in the seventh, Greg Potter singled, Honchen doubled and Josh Burris singled them both in for the final runs of the game.
In the second set, Madison cruised behind the services of Watson, who moved to 4-1 on the season.
The Cubs (11-7) did most of the damage in the third inning as Honchen doubled, Chance Barnes walked and Josh Burris singled Honchen home. Watson drilled the first of two homers in the game, which was a three-run shot. In the fifth, he hit his second, which was a two-run blast.
“Joel joked that he wasn’t going to play in doubleheaders anymore because last year he got his nose smashed in a doubleheader at Paoli,” Schmidt said. “Losing someone like him was pretty costly and that sort of threw us for a ringer to start the day off.
“Still I think we played some solid basketball. To make only three total errors in two games is not bad, especially when you figure the few amount of strikeouts we had. That’s about 35 to 40 outs that you have to rely on your defense to get and we were able to get them.”
North returns to action Thursday at 4:30 at Corydon Central in a pivotal Mid-Southern Conference game. If the Cougars, who stand at 5-0 in M.S.C. play, can pull off the win, they’ll assure themselves of no worse than a tie for the title.