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The North Harrison baseball team claimed its second consecutive Class 3A sectional title with a 4-1 win over rival Corydon Central Friday in Mitchell. (Photo by Brian Smith)

Cougars go back-to-back

Mitchell Sectional Final

June 04, 2008
In an all-Harrison County showdown, North Harrison knocked off Corydon Central to win back-to-back Class 3A sectional titles with a 4-1 victory Friday night.

Cody Johnson logged a masterful pitching performance for the second time this season against the Panthers to notch another victory. The senior gave up just three hits and struck out 10 while walking two over seven innings of work.

"When we put Cody on the mound, it seems our team and defense plays better," Cougar skipper Greg Oppel said. "I know our defense didn't show it a couple times tonight. But when he goes, we pick it up a notch. Cody is one of the premier pitchers in Indiana."

North Harrison wasted no time jumping on the board first. With David Geswein on first after drawing a walk, Adam Kiesler delivered a two-out single that eventually scored his teammate. The ball was hit sharply to center and took a hop over center fielder Tyler Jones' shoulder to help Geswein score from first.

The Cougars missed out on a golden opportunity in the second inning to blow the game open. Dylan Janes led the inning with a single, followed by Haynes Perry reaching on an infield error. Chad Eveslage turned a sacrifice bunt attempt into a base hit, legging out the throw to load the bases.

With the bases loaded, Corydon Central pitcher Chad Shireman showed his gameness, eventually working out of the inning. A strike out and a failed squeeze attempt ended the threat.

"We should have gotten a run," Oppel added. "It could have been devastating. We talk all the time about not getting too high or too low. I thought our guys did a great job of being levelheaded. That is one of the great things about this team. We are class act and will represent this sectional well."

Despite pitching out of the jam, the Panthers just couldn't get anything going against Johnson. He didn't yield a hit in the first 3-2/3 innings. He gave up a two out double to Jones in the fourth, but induced a Shireman ground out to end the inning.

"We talked about playing error-free baseball but right out of the gate we made some errors," Corydon Central coach Zach Sipes said. "I give Cody Johnson all the credit in the world. He pitched a great game, had us off balance all night. He was just overpowering."

The Cougars added a run to their lead in the third inning. Geswein started the inning by reaching on another Corydon Central error. Kiesler later grounded out, scoring Geswein extending the lead to 2-0.

On the hill, Johnson also came up with a big pick off in the sixth inning. After Nolan Brightman reached on an error, the lefty picked him off before working through the heart of the Panthers order for the final time.

In the bottom of the inning, North Harrison added a pair of runs to their total. Perry opened the frame with a single and moved to second on an Eveslage sac bunt. Then with two down, Jordan Byrne ripped an RBI single. An error and a walk later, Kiesler came up with another clutch hit an opposite field single to score another run.

"Kiesler was on base three times today out of the cleanup spot," Oppel said. "The kid was great today."

In the top of the seventh, the Panthers turned a Shireman walk into their only run of the game. Brett Eads hit a single to score Shireman. That was all the scoring Corydon Central could muster.

Corydon Central finished the season with an 18-5 record and will graduate a large senior class.

"Their first couple of years they were 7-17, 8-16, then the last two years they totally flipped that," Sipes said. "This team has gone from bad to pretty good. It's going to be a hard class to let go."

North Harrison, meanwhile, will keep trucking on. Friday clinched the eighth baseball sectional for the school, including three in the previous four seasons.

Johnson improved his record to 8-3 and kept his ERA just above one. The coach said his ace didn't have his best stuff but overcame it by hitting his spots and locating pitches throughout the night.

"I think we played hard though out the whole game," Johnson said. "Adam had a great job hitting, our infield came through when we needed them too. Today we just played better."

The run through the sectional was reminiscent of last season when the Cougars came into their own later in the season and won the sectional.

"We had a nice run last year," Oppel said. "We ended up peaking at the right time then. This year we did more scouting. I give props to this coaching staff, knowing what we need to do to get people out."

North Harrison will play at West Vigo (21-5) tonight at 7 p.m. in a one-game regional. The game was postponed by rain last night. The regional winner advances to the four-team semi-state Saturday at Jasper to play the Brebeuf Jesuit (22-5) vs. Crawfordsville (28-4) winner at 11 a.m. The semi-state championship game will be played at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

West Vigo defeated Edgewood 7-4 in the Brown County Sectional Friday.

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