Cougars grind out 4-3 victory over Generals
Last Wednesday, the North Harrison Cougar baseball team took an 11-3 beating from visiting Crawford County. The Cougars had to find a way to get back into their game the next day as they faced a tough conference opponent in visiting Clarksville.
‘Give Crawford County a lot of credit last night,’ Cougar coach Danny Schmidt said. ‘They came to play and played a heck of a ball game. If they play like that every game, they’ve got a good team. We just rolled over dead and they just hit the dickens out of the ball last night and played well.
‘I don’t want to take anything away from Crawford County, but anytime you get beat 11-3, it’s disappointing.’
The Cougars put that loss behind them in the first inning against Clarksville. After the Generals went down in order in the first, North Harrison attacked by scoring two runs. Cody Johnson started with a bunt single and then swiped second. With two outs, Zach Janes reached first on an error and Johnson made the sprint home to score. Kyle Whittinghill followed that with a rip that turned into a triple to score Janes, and the Cougars had a 2-0 cushion.
The second and third innings were quiet, but then Clarksville launched an offensive in the top of the fourth. Josh Noe and Chad Bain started the inning with back-to-back singles. Chris Wanty then smacked a stand-up double to score the pair and tie the game.
Clarksville threatened in the fifth advancing two base runners to scoring position, but North Harrison’s defense dug in as Matt DeMoss lined out, Noe grounded out, and Bain flew out to left field.
In the top of the sixth, however, the Generals struck again. With two outs, the Cougars committed an error that allowed Corey Schupp a free trip to first. Josh Owens followed with a double, and Clarksville had the lead, although only briefly.
In the bottom of the inning, Adam Kiesler ripped a one-out triple for the Cougars. Zach Sullivan followed with a hard single to score Kiesler and tie the game.
‘We came back and played a really nice ball game tonight and made a lot of super plays,’ Schmidt said. ‘On defense, they made some key plays. In that one inning, they had runners on second and third with nobody out. We made two really nice plays and Zach (Janes) works out of the inning. That keeps us in the game.’
Schmidt was prepared to take a tired Janes off the mound at the top of the seventh, but changed his mind when he asked the North Harrison senior if he was able to continue.
Janes took the mound with a new purpose, and the Generals hit three straight ground-outs, giving the Cougars a chance to get the win in the bottom of the seventh.
‘We were within a batter of pulling him out, and when I go out to talk to a pitcher, I usually pull,’ Schmidt said. ‘I don’t usually ask. Zach had pitched such a good game and only had 70 pitches thrown. He said he had it in him and could do it, so if he could do it, it’s a big confidence for him.’
Johnson laid down a perfect bunt for a single to start the bottom of the seventh. Clarksville seemed to feel the pressure and committed an error on a second bunt by Troy Eveslage. Brendan Zellers followed with the winning hit into the left field gap. Johnson crossed the plate as the Cougars took the 4-3 Mid-Southern Conference win.
‘I was really proud of the way we came back,’ Schmidt said. ‘We executed in that last inning and laid a couple of nice bunts down and then had the big hit to win it. We’re not there yet, but we’re coming along. It’s a real pick-me-up for us when we were down after last night.’
‘When you leave the game last night you maybe want to chew somebody out about something, but we didn’t do that much wrong last night,’ Schmidt said.
‘Crawford just beat us. We just needed something to get us going on the right track and get us some confidence. This has got to pick you up and get you going.’
North Harrison (3-1) finished with nine hits, with Johnson and Brendan Zellers getting two hits each. Janes finished with four strikeouts and a walk in his seven innings on the mount. The Cougars left six runners standing and had three errors.
‘He came through and pitched a big seventh inning for us,’ Schmidt said of Janes. ‘He’s not used to doing this. Last year, he was a three- or four-inning pitcher. He never went the distance last year. He’s really stepped forward as a real starter for us and a go-to man. He really showed a lot of courage on the mound and doesn’t get rattled very easy. That’s what a good team needs.’
Clarksville (2-3) finished with seven hits and four errors. Wanty struck out seven Cougars.
The Cougars split a double-header with Mitchell on Saturday, winning 13-10 and falling, 13-3.
In the opener, Troy Eveslage singled and stole second and Zellers reached on an error. Kyle Whittinghill socked a three-run homer.
Mitchell took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the second inning, which was highlighted by a solo shot by Trevor Sellers.
In the fourth inning and trailing 8-4, North got back into the game with a two-out rally.
Derek Harbeson homered. Tyler Schmidt walked and Cody Johnson singled. Troy Eveslage tripled, which plated two runs.
Mitchell got one of those scores back in the bottom of the inning, but failed to notch a run the rest of the way.
In the fifth, Zach Janes and Adam Kiesler each reached on an error, with Harbeson hitting a sacrifice fly for a RBI. Tyler Schmidt reached on Mitchell’s third error to drive in another run.
Eveslage led off the fifth with a single. Zellers was plunked by a pitch and Whittinghill reached on an error to allow a run to come across.
Kiesler and Zach Sullivan each singled for RBI.
Capping the scoring in the seventh, Zellers walked and stole second, and scored on a base hit by Janes.
Daniel Friedrich went three innings, surrendering three hits and striking out three for his second win of the season.
The Bluejackets (4-2) scored six runs in the third inning of the nitecap and added four more to run-rule North Harrison (5-2).
‘We were pleased with our offense at Mitchell. Our young pitching staff is still getting hit hard, but they’re learning,’ North coach Danny Schmidt said. ‘Daniel Friedrich kept us in the game with a steady performance on the mound.’
North marked a 6-4 win over Charlestown, which was previously undefeated at 5-0.
The Cougars held a 5-2 lead heading to the final inning, scoring one in the seventh and allowing two in the bottom of the frame.
For North, the two pivotal innings proved to be the second and fifth.
In the second, Janes walked and moved to second on an error, and Kiesler walked. Both runners stole bases and scored on a single by Jim Bob Schuler.
In the fifth, Eveslage singled and advanced on a passed ball. Zellers walked and both runners moved up on a balk. A two-run single by Whittinghill proved to be the big hit of the inning.
Cody Johnson picked up the win, his first of the season, after going six innings, allowing four hits, no walks and three strikeouts.
‘Johnson pitched a huge conference game,’ Schmidt said. ‘He was solid all the way until the seventh.
‘Janes came on in relief with the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh. He showed a lot of poise, striking out two of the three batters he faced. The other grounded out.
‘We executed tremendously on offense taking advantage of the few opportunities their pitcher gave us.
‘Kyle Whittinghill and Jim Bob Schuler both had key hits driving in two each. Adam Kiesler also keyed the offense reaching base three times and coming up with an important sac fly in the 7th.
‘Charlestown was 5-0 coming into the game, so we knew we had to play well to win.’