April 10, 2019After two losses to start the season, North Harrison put a 'W' in the win column last Wednesday afternoon against visiting Perry Central, who had drilled the Cougars' county rival, Corydon Central, the day before in a five-inning game. Needless to say, when coach Kevin Fessel saw the score, he had some serious concerns going into the contest.
"Yeah, I looked at that score last night and I saw it come over Twitter, 23-5, and I'm like, 'Oh wow! This Perry team is going to be pretty good,' " Fessel said after his team's victory. "So, yeah, it was in the back of my mind, but I didn't share it with them. It was one of those things where it might be a game for us."
North Harrison got to work early. Justin Deatrick struck out the first two Commodores, then Reece Davis grounded out for three up and out.
The Cougars then went on the board first in the bottom of the inning. Jake Harley singled and Caden Smith grounded to third base, pushing Harley there. Skyler Wetzel drilled a long fly ball to left field, and Harley scored on the tag for a 1-0 lead.
Perry Central went scoreless again in the top of the second despite a single by Colten Bland.
In the bottom of the inning, the Cougars went on a scoring spree. It began with Colin Higdon walking following by a single by Deatrick. Jadyn Martin followed that with a hit to bring in Higdon. Ben Davis singled to score courtesy runner Jake Galligan and Martin, then Zane Armstrong had a bunt single and went to second on a Commodore throwing error.
Harley came around to bat again and reached safely on another Perry Central error. In the meantime, Armstrong crossed the plate and Harley went all the way to third base. With Smith at the plate, Harley scored on a wild pitch, and the Cougars' lead ballooned to 6-0.
"We came out and we just executed," Fessel said. "That was good to see them come out and just play baseball. They know it. They know their training and they know how to do it. It was just like they were playing nervous."
Perry Central continued to struggle at the plate and went three up and down in the top of the third inning.
In the bottom of the third, the Cougars wreaked havoc once again. Higdon walked and Deatrick singled. With one out, Davis singled to score Higdon. Perry Central pitcher Tate Mullis then was called for a balk that advanced Galligan, who then stole third. Armstrong singled to score Galligan, and the parade of runs kept going.
Davis came in to pitch for the Commodores. Armstrong stole second and Davis scored on a wild pitch to Harley, who walked. Smith then walked to load the bases. Wetzel ripped a fly to left field that scored Armstrong after the tag.
Evan Lasley and Higdon walked, allowing to Harley to score. Deatrick singled for two more runs, with Lasley and Smith crossing the plate. Perry Central then committed an error that allowed Martin to second base and Higdon to score again, as North Harrison's lead jumped to 14-0.
Neither team scored through the remainder of the game, and the Cougars had their first win of the season.
"It was a good win," said Fessel, who also got his first win as a head coach. "The boys came out and were relaxed. It was just great to see those guys come up there and hit the ball. They were relaxed and ready to come up there and swing the bat on those pitches, and I think they kind of shocked themselves. Everybody was like, 'Look at ya!' It's there."
Fessel said being aggressive has been one of his main goals from day one.
"That's one thing we've been coaching them up on," he said. "We want to be aggressive. That's where we want to be. We want them to be aggressive on the bases. If we can steal a bag, we're going to do it. We're going to try to get there."
The Cougars had nine hits, with Deatrick getting three singles. Davis had two singles as did Armstrong. From the mound, Deatrick struck out four Commodore batters, Davis struck out one and walked one, and Higdon struck out one and walked one. North Harrison had no errors and left four runners on base.
"On our first-pitch strikes, we only missed it twice and only had two walks on the night," Fessel said. "The pitchers were right there all night long. I think in total we were right around 50 pitches. For all three guys, we went right around 50, 55 pitches. That's pretty dog-gone good … This team can do this and they came out and hit the ball well. I was proud of them coming out and doing it."
Perry Central had just one hit, a single by Bland. The Commodores threw three pitchers for two strikeouts, seven walks and one hit batter. Perry Central had four errors and left two runners on base.
"One of the things we did notice is we're still missing a couple of signs," Fessel said. "We missed a couple of signs early, and some of them are still a little timid. Some of the small executions, there was a bunt that didn't get laid down like I wanted. Other than that, I think we executed fairly well."
"We've got eight seniors, and seven of them are starters, and one junior and one sophomore starting tonight," he said. "They're a very experienced group, and I've been with these guys since they were freshmen. I've coached them in JV and, so, the trust factor was already important. Now, we're ready to roll."
Perry Central 000 00 - 0 1 4
North Harrison 158 0X - 14 9 0
WP-Just Deatrick, LP-Tate Mullis; 1b-Harley (NH), Bland (PC), Deatrick (NH) 3, Martin (NH), Davis (NH) 2, Armstrong (NH) 2; Records-North Harrison 1-2.