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Dave Geswein celebrates with teammates after scoring during a big offensive third inning by the Cougars. (Photo by Brian Smith)

Cougars score often, top rival Corydon in five

April 23, 2008
A night after taking a 17-0 loss on the chin from Floyd Central, North Harrison didn't stay down long. Instead, the Cougars ricocheted back from the lopsided loss to land a knockout blow to rival Class 3A No. 9 Corydon Central, 12-1, Thursday.

Patience at the plate and another strong outing from Cody Johnson on the hill were the foundation for picking up the Cougar win. Johnson gave up three hits and struck out four in the five-inning game. Corydon Central was able to put the ball in play for the better part of the first three innings, but the North Harrison offense posted 12 runs in four innings, deflating the Panthers.

"I thought they would be a little tired tonight, but they weren't," North Harrison coach Greg Oppel said. "You talk about fighting through pain, this team really stepped up tonight. This game is so mental, and the kids fought through sore arms, not to mention the way they lost last night."

The first run broke through in the second inning when Marcus Stone slapped a triple down the left field line, plating Haynes Perry.

In the third, North Harrison broke the game open, eventually chasing Corydon Central starter Chad Shireman. Dave Geswein opened the six-run third inning with a walk. He was followed by a RBI double from Johnson and an Adam Kiesler single. Jim Bob Schuler reached first, loading the bases on an infield error. Shireman then walked Chad Eveslage, plating a run. Another walk and an infield Jordan Byrne single kept the inning going. Geswein put a cap on the inning, hitting a two-run single, giving North Harrison a 7-0 lead.

"We're going to hit the ball," Oppel said. "The loss at Floyd, we hit it, but just at people. Today was much different."

The Panthers pushed their lone run across in the bottom of the third. Tyler Jones started the inning with a double, and scored on a Stu Stark single.

The one-run rally was topped by another North Harrison big inning. In the fourth, five runs came across the plate against Panther hurler Nolan Brightman, who replaced Shireman. Schuler doubled off the fence starting the one-out barrage of runs. Eveslage and Josh Book drew consecutive walks, loading the bases once again. A successful squeeze bunt from Perry plated a run, then another Corydon Central error off the bat of Stone pushed across another. Brightman then walked two additional runs home, before recording the final out.

"Our guys have been pitching well all year," Corydon Central coach Zach Sipes said. "Today, they just had a hard time finding the strike zone. I thought North Harrison did an excellent job with two strikes making our pitcher throw extra pitches. Their approach was just a lot better than ours today."

Geswein reached base in all four plate appearances, drawing two walks and hitting a single and double. He finished the game with three RBIs. Schuler and Perry also had two hits each.

Oppel said he was proud of his team, especially after the loss to Floyd Central and a slow start to the season overall.

"The day before the Floyd Central game was the first time we've been able to get on our infield," the first year coach said. "Everyone knows, we've had some field issues. April 15 was the first day we've been on the infield, so we had a 3-1/2 hour practice, taking around 300 ground balls. I knew we would suffer yesterday."

Despite the rough outing Wednesday, the team came ready at Corydon, and behind ace Johnson's solid outing, came out with a key win that could steer the Cougars forward.

"When we put Cody Johnson on the hill, we have a chance to beat anyone," Oppel said. "He is going to give us that type of effort. He is going to college to pitch for a reason."

Corydon Central will look to bounce back quickly. Sipes told his team after the game to look at what happened last season. Then, the Panthers won the regular season game, but North Harrison nipped them in the sectional.

"Our guys just need to keep their heads up and learn from it," Sipes said.

"Corydon has a great team and we know that," Oppel said about his opponents. "We know we are going to see them later and it is going to be a dog fight. It will not be 12-1 next time."

Up next for North Harrison (4-4) is a trip to Providence today (Wednesday) for a 5 p.m. game. They turnaround and host conference foe Salem on Thursday at 5 p.m.

Corydon Central (7-2) will host Silver Creek Thursday for a 7 p.m. start then travel to Springs Valley for a doubleheader at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

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