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Salem bats alive against NH

North Harrison picked the wrong day to face Salem in the Class 3A Silver Creek Sectional semi-final. Everything Salem seemed to hit found holes or gaps, leading the Lions to a 14-1 victory over the Cougars in five innings Monday.
‘Salem has a very good baseball team that hits the ball well,’ North Harrison coach Gregg Oppel said. ‘I thought early in the game they hit balls that had eyes. I tried to tell the boys it was a long game, but it seems we got down and didn’t have any life in us.’
Salem scored in the first inning when Christian Chastain was plated on an Alex Potter single. North Harrison escaped the inning when Nate Smith made a diving play at second for the third out.
North Harrison had an opportunity in the first inning to answer back. Marcus Stone, who went 5 for 5 during sectional play, led off with a double. After Dylan Janes singled, Chad Eveslage blistered a ball down the third-base line that turned into a double play.
‘Salem made some great plays on us defensively,’ Oppel said. ‘The third baseman took away a hit from Eveslage.’
Eveslage, who pitched the first two innings, was lifted in the third for Stone.
Stone had a rough outing, giving up 11 runs in the third inning that featured three errors and five hits. Fifteen batters went to the plate.
‘Probably made a mistake pulling Chad as early as I did,’ Oppel said. ‘He didn’t have his best stuff, and he was leaving the ball up a bit and they were hitting him.’
Stone, who will play at Vincennes University next season, had a huge game at the plate with three hits, including two doubles.
‘Marcus hit the ball really hard, just smacked the ball,’ Oppel said. ‘I know he was really upset after the game. He is a gamer and just takes it to heart. Will Jones is another senior that had a big season, coming in for Josh Book to catch. He is just a tough kid.’
Nick Rainey pitched all five innings for Salem, picking up the win.
‘Rainey did an incredible job at keeping the ball low,’ Oppel said. ‘Tonight, we usually keep it low, but we didn’t.’
Despite the loss, Oppel is excited about the future of the program.
‘Each of the last two years, we lost seven starters from each team,’ Oppel said. ‘No one expected us to win the games we won this year. This team stepped up and worked hard and did what no one else said they could do. Their work ethic was second to none to any I have coached.’
The team finished second in the Mid-Southern Conference and had wins over Providence, Jeffersonville, Salem and Austin.
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