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Get on, get over, get in

Get on, get over, get in
Get on, get over, get in
North Harrison pitcher Justin Deatrick follows through with a pitch against Borden in the final inning last Wednesday. Photo by Brian Smith

There are more ways to produce runs in baseball than hitting a home run or ripping a triple down the line.
North Harrison baseball coach Cody Johnson has told his guys to ‘find ways to manufacture runs without getting a hit.’ The objective is to get on base and create chances to move from station to station and eventually cross the plate.
Last Wednesday versus Borden, the Cougars didn’t collect a ton of hits (six) but were able to draw eight walks and were hit by three pitches. All the extra runners along with three-run scoring-sacrifice flies led to the Cougars defeating Borden 10-4 in Ramsey.
‘We’re looking to draw a walk, steal a base, hit a sac fly, put the ball in play, hard to force an error,’ Johnson said. ‘We did a really good job of advancing runners that led us to big innings. We were able to score three, four runs at a time. We’re not used to doing that, but I’m glad to see it happen tonight.’
Unselfish at bats were evident in the opening inning, when a temporary rain shower was pelting both squads. Jake Harley drew a lead-off walk, then Jackson Pullen was hit with a pitch.
Out of the three-hole, Jake Book put a well-placed bunt down the first-base line. The sacrifice attempt turned into a base hit after sprinting out the throw to the bag.
‘With a guy on first and second with no outs, Jake Book lays a bunt down,’ Johnson said. ‘He’s sacrificing for the team. If he’s out, he’s out. But, his goal was to advance the runners. It’s an example of unselfishness to win a baseball game.’
With the bases juiced, Max Flock brought in the first run with a sacrifice fly. After Skyler Wetzel reached with a single, Josh Craig rolled over on a pitch. A bobble at first base to make the putout allowed Book to score from second base, following Pullen.
The three-run first inning gave the Cougars some breathing room for Craig, the starting pitcher.
Craig benefited from some solid defense as well. Pressing into third-base duty, freshman Isaiah Lawson looked the part as plenty of balls were hit his way. Making seven put-outs, Lawson started a 5-3-6 double play in the second inning.
‘We’re still trying to decide what our best defensive lineup is for the tournament,’ Johnson said. ‘We threw Lawson out there after looking good in practice, and he did everything he was supposed to do. He gives us a big arm at third base.’
The double play saw him cleanly field a grounder off the bat of Noah Franklin, check base runner Sam Gasper back to second and fire to first for an out. As Gasper decided to head for third on the throw, first baseman Flock nailed him as Book applied a quick tag.
North Harrison added a single run in the second inning off Borden starter Zach Knight without getting hit. It was Brett Rudolph getting hit by a pitch, setting up a walk drawn by Lawson. After Harley grounded in a fielder’s choice, Pullen brought in courtesy runner Ben Davis with a sac fly.
Rudolph reached base all four times without getting a hit. He drew a pair of walks and was hit twice, once ringing his helmet. The catch shook the plunking off and took first base.
‘That’s Brett’s motto; he knows he isn’t going 4 for 4, so he is patient to look for a walk or even get hit by a pitch,’ Johnson said. ‘At the beginning of the season, we had our share of ‘me’ guys. We are finally, as a team, becoming ‘we’ guys.’
Craig also drove in a run with a sac fly in the third inning.
Borden put the lead-off batter on in each of the first four innings but could only manage to plate one run.
In the fifth, the Braves got a big boost from Lucas McNew’s bat. The University of Southern Indiana commit rocketed a two-run home run over the 365-foot marker in left field.
With the score narrowed to a 5-3 North Harrison lead, the Cougars added on in the fifth.
Four runs crossed in the inning with hits from Caden Smith and Wetzel. Flock, and Harley drew free passes as well while Lawson plated two runs when he reached on an error.
‘I’m glad to see my team giving it their all,’ Johnson said. ‘They are running the bases hard, throwing the ball hard. It’s a culture change. Most guys don’t want to run hard to first.’
Pitching was efficient for the Cougars. Craig went five innings, giving up five hits. Throwing in relief, Justin Deatrick gave up an unearned run in the seventh. He didn’t give up a hit during two innings of work.
‘Justin and Josh do a good job pitching to contact,’ Johnson said. ‘They know they won’t strike out 10 guys, but, when you know there is a good defense out there, it’s OK for teams to put the ball in play. Jake Book is one of the best shortstops I’ve seen. We want to throw strikes and play defense. Our pitching isn’t spectacular, but they get the job done. They battle and scrap.’
Wetzel and Smith had two hits apiece for North Harrison. McNew was 2 for 3 for the Braves, driving in three of the team’s four runs.
‘A lot of young guys were in the dugout tonight, and I was glad they could see their teammates play hard,’ Johnson said. ‘We’re not going to see a lot of home runs, so you have to run the bases hard. It’s part of being unselfish.’
Preparation now turns to the postseason.
‘We want to fine tune some things,’ Johnson said of the final few regular season games. ‘We may work on some defensive strategies now that we know our sectional draw to mentally prepare the guys for sectional.’
The Cougars are slated to face Scottsburg in the Class 3A Silver Creek Sectional today (Wednesday) at 5:30 p.m.

Borden 001 020 1 ‘ 4 5 2
North Harrison 311 041 x ‘ 10 6 2
W ‘ J. Craig, L ‘ Z. Knight.
2B ‘ K. Leftwich (B), L. McNew (B); HR ‘ L. McNew (B).