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Bulldogs have answer for NH runs

Bulldogs have answer for NH runs
Bulldogs have answer for NH runs
North Harrison's Jim Bob Schuler pitches against New Albany last Wednesday, just two weeks back from a thumb injury. (Photo by Brian Smith)

Hitting the ball was no problem for North Harrison last Wednesday at Mount Tabor Field in New Albany, but the host Bulldogs didn’t have much of a problem putting the ball in play either.
New Albany was able to score five runs in the first inning off Cougar starter Marcus Stone, to mount a 5-0 lead. North Harrison chipped away at the lead behind 10 hits, but came up short in the end 9-6.
‘New Albany is a great team, traditionally a powerhouse and we competed well with them,’ North Harrison coach Greg Oppel said. ‘We are getting there. We are really close to putting something together that is special; we just have to keep on the positive.’
The Bulldogs smacked three consecutive hits to open the bottom of the first, leading to two runs. In the second inning, New Albany added three more runs. The inning led off with Stone striking out Nathan Poff with a ball in the dirt, but Poff reached first when North Harrison made an errand throw to first, unable to complete the put-out. Forbis made the error hurt later in the inning, plating two with a double in the gap.
Bats started heating up in the Cougar dugout in the fourth inning, finally getting to New Albany pitcher Travis Sands.
Cody Johnson started a two-run inning with a bunt single, followed by one of Adam Kiesler’s two doubles. Chad Eveslage plated a run with a sacrifice fly, and Haynes Perry reached on a throwing error, scoring Kiesler.
Jim Bob Schuler relieved Stone in the third inning and was able to keep New Albany within striking distance. In the bottom of the fourth, New Albany extended its lead back to five, with a Sands two-run single to right field.
North Harrison battled back, scoring two runs in the fifth and sixth innings. With two outs in the fifth, Dave Geswein and Johnson connected on consecutive singles. Both were plated by Geswein’s second double.
‘He has some of the quickest hands I have ever seen,’ Oppel said of Geswein. ‘He hits the ball and fields it so well.’
The sticks stayed hot in the sixth, starting with a one-out double by Perry, followed by a run scoring Dylan Janes single. Levi Simpson sacrificed Janes into scoring position, despite colliding with New Albany’s first baseman while trying to leg out the bunt. Simpson was shaken but returned to the game. The bunt paid off when Jordan Byrne brought Janes home with a single, moving North Harrison to within two runs at 8-6.
In the bottom of the sixth, New Albany plated a key run with a double steal. With runners on the corners, Grahm Brown appeared to be picked off at first base. While trapped in a rundown, Forbis broke from third to home, scoring without a throw.
‘We had a key judgment error on a rundown situation in the sixth inning,’ Oppel said. ‘I consider that little league, and we messed it up. So Friday, we’ll be working on rundowns.’
New Albany was able to shut the door in the seventh, not allowing the Cougars to score in the final inning.
‘We are going to hit,’ Oppel said. ‘This was their best pitcher, and we got 10 hits off him. We hit the ball with authority, but we’ve got to field the ball better.’
Oppel was most pleased with the return of Schuler to the hill. The senior lefty missed two weeks due to a thumb injury.
‘The best thing about tonight is we got Jim Bob back,’ he said. ‘He had smashed his thumb; it swelled up and they had to drill a hole (in it) to drain it. He is still having a little pain. But the best thing for us is to have him back. Jim Bob did a great job. I’m looking forward to what he can put together between here and sectional.’
North Harrison dropped to 5-7 on the season, while New Albany moved to 11-6. Up next for the Cougars is a key Mid-Southern Conference game against MSC leader Austin tomorrow (Thursday) at 5 p.m. in Ramsey.