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DP combo sends Cougars past Corydon

DP combo sends Cougars past Corydon
DP combo sends Cougars past Corydon
North Harrison catcher Brett Rudolph blocks the plate to tag out Corydon Central's Marcos Arrearan to complete a double play in the sixth inning. Photo By Brian Smith

5-2-3-2.
Not the most common of double-play scenarios, but North Harrison escaping a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the bottom of the sixth inning was arguably the biggest moment at rival Corydon Central on Thursday.
Seizing momentum of the double play, North Harrison went on to add four runs in the top of the seventh to score a 10-5 Mid-Southern Conference win over the Panthers.
Aiming to protect a 6-4 lead in a tight contest, North Harrison pitcher Max Flock induced a slow roller off the bat of Braden Babcock with the bases packed in the sixth. North Harrison third baseman Ben Davis came up firing to home, cutting down Logan Murphy at the plate. North Harrison catcher Brett Rudolph then threw to first base but pulled the foot of Skyler Wetzel, allowing Babcock to reach safely.
Rounding third base, Corydon Central’s Marcos Arrearan attempted to score, but Wetzel alertly threw the ball back to Rudolph to cut down the aggressive Arrearan.
‘I told Ben Davis that was one of the hardest throws to make, when you field a ground ball and you see the guy next to you trying to advance a base,’ North Harrison coach Cody Johnson said. ‘To throw it on a line was nice. Those are the plays I’ve seen in practice. We haven’t shown it as consistently, but now, with a little confidence, we can continue to build.’
The double play combination halted any momentum the host Panthers were trying to generate. Flock went on to strike out the next batters on three pitches to end the frame.
‘I threw a good pitch for them to ground it out,’ Flock said. ‘Ben Davis made a good play, and then Brett took one, or laid the kid out. It was a good boost.’
‘The base-running error took the momentum away from us,’ Corydon Central coach Zach Sipes said.
North Harrison took advantage of Corydon Central’s five errors and 10 total free passes (six walks and four hit batters) to tally at least one run in all but one inning. The Panthers did out-hit North Harrison 8-7.
‘Most high school kids, not just at Corydon, care about just offense,’ Sipes said. ‘This year, every team we have played we have out hit and our record is 4-4. These guys have a hard time believing in defense, and small things win ballgames. Until I can get them to believe in those two things, we are going to keep struggling in those areas.’
With a one-run lead, the top of the sixth saw North Harrison add a score without registering a hit. Jackson Pullen and Jake Harley were hit by pitches against Corydon Central reliever Logan Murphy. Pullen was later picked off second base, but North Harrison loaded the bags when Zane Armstrong walked and Flock was intentionally walked for the second time. With a watchful eye, Wetzel was credited with an RBI by drawing a free pass.
‘We are waiting on that one pitch,’ Johnson said. ‘Can you hit a curve ball? If not, wait until you see a fastball. A good high school pitcher is going to show you at least two strikes in an at bat that you will be able to hit. You have to force the pitcher to prove he can throw a curve ball for a strike. If it’s face down in the dirt, take it. It’s a process.’
After getting out of the sixth, North Harrison posted a four-spot in the seventh. With two outs, Harley and Jake Book notched triples to plate runs. Corydon Central infield errors allowed Armstrong and Flock to not only reach, but push runs across the plate.
Johnson said the Cougars had a recent 20-minute discussion about plate approach.
‘Basically saying every at bat you need a plan but every at bat you may have something different come up,’ he said. ‘There could be a guy on second base, so you may need to change your approach. I can see it sunk in. Guys aren’t swinging at first-pitch curve balls. Guys know when to take the ball to the right side. Our guys are laying down sacrifice bunts and are happy they did it. We have preached ‘We not me’ and I thought this was a ‘We’ win.’
Both teams scored early with North Harrison using a lead-off single by Harley to get going. The second baseman had a big day at the plate, going 3 for 4 with two extra-base hits. Flock helped his cause on the mound with a single in the first for a 2-0 lead.
Corydon Central quickly bounced back. A walk and an infield error allowed Noah Windell and Gabe Fleace to eventually cross the dish. Shelby Deaton had an RBI single followed by a double off the stick of Chase Straub. Murphy gave Corydon Central a 3-2 lead with an RBI ground out.
North Harrison evened the score with an RBI double from Book in the third.
The offense of Corydon Central came back with an RBI single from Straub in the third for a 4-3 Panthers’ lead.
North Harrison went on to score single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to retake the lead. Harley notched a run-scoring single in the fourth, while Caden Smith had a sac fly RBI in the fifth to give the Cougars the lead for good.
Corydon Central put runners on in the final inning, but the Cougars turned a 6-4-3 double play to go home happy on the sunny-turned-chilly night.
‘When you make a couple errors in the first couple of innings and let them score a few runs, but to come up big when it matters, that’s big,’ Johnson said. ‘We are heading in the right direction. Corydon is a good team, and anytime you beat a rival, it’s always a good win, no matter how ugly it was.’
Flock went the distance for the win, striking out six and walking two.
‘I got more warmed up as the game went on and started to throw strikes better,’ Flock said.
‘Max’s biggest thing is composure on the mound,’ Johnson said. ‘If he can stay composed and be a bulldog instead of a runt, he can be a really good pitcher. He likes to talk and is a very social guy. If he can have that bulldog mentality, it will pay off for him.’
Book closed the day with two hits for North Harrison. Corydon Central’s Deaton and Straub had two hits apiece. Straub drove in three runs.
Taking the loss on the hill was Braydon Beauchamp. He went five innings, striking out five and walking three.
‘Credit our guys, the first six innings we got out of some big jams,’ Sipes said. ‘That first inning could have been four (runs), and we held them to two. We were able to get out of other jams too. In the seventh, it blew up on us.’
North Harrison improved to 5-2 with the win, while Corydon Central dropped to 4-4.
‘Beating Corydon is nice, but our conference and sectional are hard,’ Johnson said. ‘We have Floyd Central tomorrow (April 19), so it will be another tough opponent to get us ready.’

North Harrison 201 111 4 ‘ 10 7 3
Corydon Central 301 000 1 ‘ 5 8 5
W ‘ M. Flock, L ‘ B. Beauchamp.
2B ‘ J. Book (NH), J. Harley (NH), S. Deaton (CC), C. Straub (CC); 3B ‘ J. Book (NH), J. Harley (NH).

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