Grand slam by Martin crushes Corydon, 6-2
No matter how strong North Harrison’s baseball club may be, when it comes to playing county, conference and sectional rival Corydon Central, anything can happen. Last Thursday afternoon’s matchup between the two teams can be classified as the same.
Through four innings of play, host Corydon held a 2-0 advantage. In the top of the fifth, the Cougars loaded the bases with no outs before Scott Burdin, North’s twirler who improved to 5-0, was struck out by Carson Cooper and Joel Culbertson fliedout to short left field.
With two outs, Doug Martin stepped to the plate and knocked Corydon’s plans for the upset 342 feet over the right-center fence. Martin’s grand slam powered the visitors to a 6-2 win and at least a share of third third straight Mid-Southern Conference championship.
“In the two years I’ve been a head coach and the one year as a JV coach, I’ve seen more balls go out over the right-center fence,” said Corydon coach Nathan Freed. “If you get it out in the air out there, it’s like a vacuum or something, and it sucks it up. I honestly didn’t think the ball was hit well enough to get out of the park. That obviously was the turning point.”
The Panthers’ two runs came in the bottom of the fourth when Todd Tyree had the team’s first single and Russell Braun followed with another single to move Tyree to third. Matt Whittaker grounded into a fielder’s choice; however, the throw from third to the plate got away from North catcher Shanon Miller, allowing Tyree to score. Nevin Dunaway marked Braun with a sacrifice RBI.
A half-inning later, it was the Cougars’ turn to get on the board.
Greg Hamilton reached on an error, Todd Winchell reached on a passed ball on the third strike, and Matt Jones singled to load the bases. That’s when Burdin whiffed and Culbertson flew out.
“At first and second with nobody out, you’re sitting there thinking, by the textbook you have to bunt them over, and you’re batting No. 8,” North Coach Danny Schmidt said. “You go against the rules and let No. 8 hit, and he lines a shot for a base hit. So we’re at bases loaded and then the next two guys get out. I’m sitting over there and the fly ball in left field, with the text book again, you’ve got to get that guy home and make it 2-1. I don’t know what held me. I just didn’t send him. And then the ball goes way over here and I’m looking like a moron again. But Doug picked me up in that situation.”
Martin deposited the ball over the fence for a 4-2 lead.
North added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh when Shanon Miller and Greg Hamilton were walked by Jay Keigher. Winchell had a seeing-eye single for one run and Jones followed with a run-scoring shot to center.
The Cougars actually had several chances to blow the game wide open, including having the bases loaded for Martin two more times in the game (he struck out both times).
“I’m disappointed in one thing, that in high school baseball when you get guys at second and third, the ground ball is scoring,” said Schmidt. “We can’t seem to get the ground ball in the hole. We’ve been in so many situations all year where we could blow games open, and we’ve left so many guys on base. We got up with the bases loaded and nobody out, and No. 9 gets out and No. 1 gets out, and there’s Doug, who had a horrible day, except for one swing. It was a real big swing. It made it out and broke us through.”
Freed said he thought the Panthers were going to catch a break when his team got the two outs before Martin’s slam.
“He threw a no-hitter against Springs Valley,” Freed said of his pitcher, Carson Cooper. “North gets bases load and nobody out and of course you’re thinking the worst. There’s so many things, a squeeze, a passed ball, a couple of ground balls or sacrifice flies, a couple of base hits, and the game gets out of hand quick. So we get a strikeout and then a shallow fly and you’re thinking, ‘We’ve got a little momentum.’ Danny’s going, ‘How many guys are we going to leave on base?’ Then the kid hits one out. It was a good pitch. He hit it.”
“The Cooper kid went strong to the fifth inning and had us beat,” said Schmidt. “The funny thing about it is he is one swing away from pitching a shutout. If he pitches like that, he’s going to win a lot of games.”
Freed said he was pleased with his club’s effort despite the loss.
“I’ll take that type of effort out of my kids every day,” Freed said. “They played hard, they fought, they scratched, they clawed, and that’s what I’ve got to have. You never like to lose, but they were competitive, and that’s what we’re working on, trying to get ourselves better for sectional.”
Cooper was hit with the loss and dropped his first decision of the season (2-1).
North Harrison swept a doubleheader Saturday, pasting host Paoli 14-7 and 13-2.
In the second inning of game one, Shanon Miller reached on an error and moved to second on a passed ball. Greg Hamilton singled Miller home, stole second, and scored on a Todd Winchell base hit.
Ty Rothrock doubled in the third inning and moved to third on a passed ball. Gary Fessel walked and stole second, and Miller drove in Rothrock with a sacrifice fly. Hamilton doubled in Fessel and Winchell doubled in Hamilton for a 5-0 lead.
Three North Harrison errors and a trio of base hits led to six runs for Paoli, but the Cougars bounced back with a five-spot in the top of the fifth.
Fessel singled and moved to second on an error on a pickoff play. Miller singled Fessel home, Winchell singled Miller home and went to second on a passed ball before Matt Jones had a hit to bring Winchell home. The crushing blow of the game came on Mark Kiesler’s first career home run to set the final at 13-6.
Things didn’t get much prettier in the second set as North hung three runs on the board in the top of the first.
Culbertson doubled, Tim Rothrock singled, and Shanon Miller doubled Culbertson home. Rothrock scored on a passed ball, and Hamilton’s fielder’s choice marked Miller.
In the third frame, Ty Rothrock was hit by a pitch, and Miller walked. Hamilton walked and Matt Jones knocked in Miller. Jones’ single started a hit train for North as Anthony Milburn then singled in Hamilton, Jon Atkins singled in Jones, Culbertson singled in Milburn, and Tim Rothrock singled to load the bases. Ty Rothrock then proceeded to go downtown for the team’s third grand slam of the season. A short time later, Todd Winchell tripled in two runs.
“Overall, a lot of people got to play Saturday,” said Coach Danny Schmidt. “Ty (Rothrock) pitched a pretty solid four innings and Gary Fessel one inning for us. Of course, Joel Culbertson was typical Joel in the first game for his win.”