Napper good enough for NH
Eleven hits led to eight North Harrison runs Thursday against rival Corydon Central. Cougar leftie Micah Napper used the run support while limiting Corydon Central to three hits, leading to the 10th win of the season for North Harrison.
North Harrison’s offense saw two-hit games from Craig Waynescott, Alex Flock, Jacob Faith and Jake Book pave the way for an 8-1 victory in Ramsey.
Napper, earning a victory in his third straight Mid-Southern Conference start of the season, struck out six while walking two in seven innings.
‘I had my curve ball working a little bit, so I tried to hit my spots with it,’ Napper said. ‘I went in and out on them. (Corydon Central) likes to swing early, so I was trying to pitch to contact. They were going after me early in the count, so I wanted to get ground balls.’
It wasn’t a particularly clean game for either team on the cold and windy late April night. Corydon Central committed a pair of errors, while the three miscues North Harrison had didn’t sit well with coach Jamie Polk.
‘I’m happy for the kids because we beat a rival, but, as a coach, I’m not very happy with the way we played,’ Polk said. ‘We did a lot of fundamentally bad things today. We have to get a lot better. The baseball we played wasn’t very good, and the kids know it.’
Two of North Harrison’s errors came in the second inning, leading to Corydon Central’s lone run. Jordan Ripperdan’s high fly ball to right was dropped, allowing him to reach second base. After a walk to Zach Mason, Napper threw the ball away on a pick-off attempt, allowing a run to pass.
Napper ended the threat of more runs when he picked off Mason between second and third base.
For the Cougars, Napper stuck with his game plan on the hill the rest of the way, while the offense for North Harrison clicked.
In the second, third and fourth innings, North Harrison put the first batter on base, setting the tone for at least one run in each.
Brad Nowak started the second by reaching on an infield error. Corydon Central starting pitcher Adam Yeager stayed in the strike zone much of the day, but, at times, his defense didn’t help. With one out, Jacob Faith lifted a short fly to left that fell between Panthers’ position players, scoring courtesy runner Austin Nevil.
In the third inning, North Harrison took the lead, thanks to No. 9 hitter Jake Book kick-starting things off with an opposite field triple. With a runner 90 feet away, Paul Moberly, who flashed fantastic glove work at third much of the night, brought Book in with a sac fly.
Later in the frame, Nowak hit a single with runners on, giving the Cougars a 3-1 edge.
Corydon Central had a chance to cut into the deficit in the top of the fourth with an Alec Saulman double. He eventually moved to third on a Cougars’ error. After Napper struck out a batter, Yeager hit a sharp ball to Moberly at third, who gunned down Saulman at the plate. The Panthers stranded two in the inning.
‘We talked about being aggressive early in the count and try to find a good fastball to put in play,’ Corydon Central coach Zach Sipes said. ‘We did a better job of hitting some hard ground balls. We hit several around (Moberly), and he made three, four, five really good plays.’
‘Paul has been doing really well at third,’ Polk said. ‘Until this game, we (as a team) probably had a seven-game stretch of having one error or less. I don’t know what happened today.’
North Harrison’s break-out inning was the fourth. Napper drew a walk then came all the way around when Austin Reynolds tattooed a stand-up triple to deep right center. Moberly added to the total with a single through a drawn-in infield. It started a string of three straight hits with Waynescott and Flock joining in the parade.
‘We had some nice at-bats,’ Polk said. ‘Our hitting wasn’t bad, but, defensively, we have to get better.’
Book and Faith had RBI singles in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.
There was a little bit of flashy defense to help make up for some of the lapses by the Cougars. Not only did Moberly make several plays at third, but right fielder Alex Eveslage had a pair of diving catches. He had snags in the sixth, a belly flop to his left, then, to end the game, sliding on his knees in the seventh.
‘Alex made a couple of nice plays, and Jake (Faith) nearly made a great play on the double that was hit by Saulman,’ Polk said.
Both teams were coming off of tight games. Corydon Central pitcher Tyler Stauth tossed a no-hitter at Trinity Lutheran but took a 1-0 loss. North Harrison met usual 3A power Heritage Hills and lost 2-0.
For the Panthers, Sipes is looking for consistency.
‘This is our third week of games and, right now, we’re having a hard time putting a game together,’ he said. ‘If we are pitching well, we’re making errors or we are not hitting. If we are hitting well, our pitchers are walking guys. We have time to figure it out. I’m not happy with an 8-1 loss, but, with some energy to the game, I think we have a chance to get better.’
While Corydon Central fell to 5-5, North Harrison, now ranked No. 9 in 3A, is 10-2.
‘I feel like we’re going in the right direction,’ Napper said. ‘We have a ton of talent, but we have to continue to do the little things right. If we can do that, we can keep winning a lot of games.’
‘If you told me at the beginning of the year we’d be 10-2 at this point, I would take it,’ Polk said. ‘I’m not naive, though, because I know the games we have coming up. If we play the way we did against Heritage Hills last night, we can win our fair share.’
Corydon Central’s hits came from Zach Mason, Stauth and Saulman. Mason reached base twice, the other time on a walk.
North Harrison’s Flock and Book finished with 2-for-3 performances. Faith and Moberly drove in two runs each. Reynolds was one for two with a walk, scoring twice. Waynescott and Faith were two for four.
Yeager took the loss, pitching four innings. He struck out three and walked two. Jacob Dearth pitched two relief innings.
Prior to the game, both teams participated as ‘buddies’ in a Friends of Harrison County Youth Challenger Ball game. In its 10th year, Challenger Ball gives opportunities for physically (ambulatory and non-ambulatory) and developmentally challenged children to play baseball.
‘I had several kids tell me, ‘coach, that was awesome’,’ Polk said. ‘That’s what today should really be about. We played a game, but we also had fun with the kids. They don’t get to do what we do. Our kids had a blast.’
Corydon Central 010 000 0 ‘ 1 3 2
North Harrison 012 311 x ‘ 8 11 3
W ‘ Napper, L ‘ Stauth.
2B ‘ Saulman (CC), Mason (CC), Flock (NH), Faith (NH); 3B ‘ Reynolds (NH), Book (NH).
Records: Corydon Central 5-5, North Harrison 10-2.