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Highlanders hand NH first loss

Floyd Central is one of the few high school baseball teams that charges fans for admission to its games. And for the charge, spectators who took in the matchup between the Highlanders and North Harrison last Wednesday got their money’s worth.
The visiting Cougars held a 3-1 lead through four innings before Floyd closed the game with a run in the bottom of the fifth. In the top of the sixth, North got the run back, only to see the host club post four runs.
With one out in the final inning, the Cougars load the bases and eventually scored one run. A weak groundout to the pitcher closed out an otherwise thrilling game, 6-5.
The setback was North Harrison’s first this season.
‘You have to tip your hat to Floyd Central. They hung in there and got some hits to go through that we were fielding earlier in the game,’ Cougars coach Danny Schmidt said.
‘Sure, we’re disappointed. We want to win every game, but there’s not a team like Floyd Central in our sectional, and this wasn’t a conference game. We just want to learn from every game and move on and continue towards our goals.’
North Harrison (8-2), ranked 7th in the latest Class 3A coaches poll, jumped on top after Zach Janes doubled, moved to second on a sacrifice by Troy Eveslage and came in on a fielder’s choice by Brenden Zellers. Matt Weathers tripled to deep center and scored on a bloop single by Daniel Rumbley.
The bottom of the order produced a run for the Highlanders as Nolan Barry singled in Patrick Martin, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.
North Harrison got the run back in the top of the next inning.
Ray VonAllmen doubled to right-center and went to third on a passed ball. Stewart Wenning grounded into a double-play, but he drove in his teammate for a 3-1 lead.
The score remained that way until the bottom of the fifth, when Floyd’s Chad Allen drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on a single by Tyler Whiteman.
North answered in the top of the sixth when Wenning reached on a two-base error, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a single by Janes.
The Highlanders’ big inning came after Ray VonAllmen relieved Janes on the hill.
‘In his earlier games, Zach absolutely hit the wall after 60 pitches, and he got to 80 there and we felt like we got a good game out of him,’ Schmidt said.
The first five batters VonAllmen faced reached base.
Dustin Temple singled, Matt Dibble walked, and Martin doubled for a RBI. Berry walked and Kris Violette reached on an error to bring in Dibble. Tyler Beavin had a sacrifice to score Martin and Chad Allen singled to mark Barry.
VonAllmen struck out the next two batters to stop the flood, but by then the Cougars were trailing, 6-4.
After Jon Couts and VonAllmen drew one-out walks, Scott Burdin reached on an error to load the bases. Wenning grounded out to short to drive in a run.
Janes stepped to the plate but could only manage a weak tapper back to reliever Craig Kirchgessner for the final out.
‘Out of 30-plus batters, we only had four strikeouts, so that’s a good thing to take out of this game,’ Schmidt said. ‘Again, we don’t like to lose, but there are a lot of things that we can take from this game and we’ll just move on.’
Floyd Central coach Casey LaDuke said his Highlanders (4-5) had struggled all year against quality competition.
‘We just hadn’t played very well,’ LaDuke said. ‘We just had to focus on the fact that it was a long season and eventually some of the balls we were hitting at people would find holes. Today, early on, North Harrison found the holes early, and then later we did.
‘I was proud of my team for hanging in there.’
Martin picked up the win for Floyd, pushing his record to 2-1.
North Harrison suffered its second loss of the season on Monday night, thanks to a once-in-a-lifetime pitching effort by P.J. Thomas of Jeffersonville (6-5).
The senior twirler struck out a career-high 17 batters in his team’s 5-2 win over the Cougars.
He allowed four hits (three went for extra bases) and three walks and retired the side on strikeouts five times.
‘The scouts had him clocked anywhere from 88 to 92. His slider was nasty,’ Schmidt said. ‘Probably the most dominating pitcher I’ve seen in 22 years of coaching.’
For the Cougars, VonAllmen and Burdin each notched doubles, with Burdin also carding a triple in the loss.