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North Harrison third baseman Colin Book holds up the ball after tagging Crawford County’s Isaac Bowles in the Cougars’ 9-1 win over the Wolfpack. Photo by Wade Bell

Cougar bats pummel Wolfpack

April 22, 2009
North Harrison and Crawford County both have found it difficult to even get on the baseball field this season, let alone play games, with weather being the main culprit. However, when the pair got together last Wednesday night, the Cougars appeared to be farther ahead as they battered the Wolfpack, 9-1.

"I know if we play them again, in the sectional, it will be different," North Harrison coach Gregg Oppel said. "That's their third game. It's our third game. Most teams in the state have played six or seven games. Some of them have played even eight. We just need to get on the field. This is our fifth time that we've been on a field. That's it, five times."

"If we're looking for any positives out of tonight, we were able to play," Crawford coach Greg Gogel said. "That's our biggest thing. I thought we were going to be chomping at the bit in a good way, but I think we were chomping at the bit to the game so much we got a little bit tight. We maybe lost some of the things on the baseball field because it had been over a week since we had seen a baseball diamond."

The Cougars went to work early with Marcus Stone leading off with a double and Colin Book and Dylan Janes following with singles to push Stone across the plate. A Crawford error scored Book, and a Griffin Capehart two-out single allowed Janes to come home for a 3-0 Cougar lead.

In the bottom of the first inning, Crawford County loaded the bases but couldn't push any runner home.

However, North Harrison had no trouble adding more heat to the fire in its next at-bat, scoring two more runs for a 5-0 lead. Michael Cox, who walked and then stole second and third bases, scored on a Stone sacrifice fly. Book crossed the plate on a Janes' grounder, after reaching base on a hit and then going to second on a passed ball.

"It was a frustrating night," Gogel said. "We came out early and it seemed like we were a little tight from the get-go. We had some routine things that came up we didn't make the play on."

Neither team scored again till the top of the fourth inning when the Cougars added another run following a Stone lead-off triple. The Cougars weren't finished, as they scored three more times in the sixth inning to go up 9-0. The runs came courtesy of three hits, including a double by Janes that scored two Cougars.

Crawford's only run came in the bottom of the sixth, when a James Massengale single scored Casey Benham, who reached base on a walk. The Wolfpack were poised to tighten the game when they loaded the bases, but the North Harrison defense stopped the Crawford rally.

"Crawford helped us out tonight," Oppel said. "They swung at some pitches we wanted them to swing at, and they helped us out. But if we see them again when they're game-tested, they won't swing at those pitches. Coach Gogel is an outstanding coach, and he'll have them ready."

"I would rather have this happen in a non-conference game early rather than in a conference game," Gogel said. "At times, we went through spells where we really didn't have a clue. We've got to get better at that."

North Harrison finished with 10 hits, with Stone raking three and Book and Capehart adding two each. Stone, from the mound, struck out three Crawford batters, while walking three, and reliever Chad Eveslage also recorded three K's, but allowed one walk and hit two batters. The Cougars, who left five runners on base, committed no errors.

"I've been on these boys not knowing what to do when they get the ball," Oppel said. "I thought tonight they made quick decisions. I was very happy with our defense and knowing where to throw the ball and hitting cut-offs."

Crawford County finished with just three hits. Pitcher Ethan Smith struck out five, walked one and hit two Cougar batters. The Wolfpack left eight runners stranded, including the bases loaded twice.

"They hit the baseball," Gogel said. "We didn't. They made the routine plays. We did not. A lot of that could be attributed to not being on the baseball diamond. We had guys coming back from last year. That should be no excuse. The routine thing, we have not changed that much from last year. They should be able to know how to do it, and we've worked enough in multiple places to get it done."

"We're going to play a lot of small ball," Oppel said. "We're going to advance runners. We did that tonight. We stole a couple of bases. We did a little hit and run, and it worked tonight. We're going to have to do that to win these types of ball games."

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