|Floyd Central’s Jimmy Orr gets back to the base by the slimmest of margins before he is tagged by North Harrison’s Lincoln Jones on a pickoff attempt in the second inning. Photo by Wade Bell|
Highlanders shut out Cougars, 3-0
April 29, 2009North Harrison baseball coach Gregg Oppel believes his team didn't come into its game at Floyd Central last Wednesday ready to play, and the Highlanders took advantage, scoring a 3-0 shutout.
"Coming into Floyd Central, when I was in school, it was the biggest game of the year," he said. "It wasn't Corydon. It was Floyd, New Albany and Jeff. For the life of me, I don't understand why we come into a game against a (Class) 4A school with an attitude like they didn't want to be here. It's my job to get them ready to play, and we weren't ready to play. I guess I'm going to have to make some changes."
"We started off real good, then we had five losses in a row," Floyd coach Casey LaDuke said. "Hopefully, this win will get us back on track. … We're just going to make some small goals for ourselves and, hopefully, achieve those and move on to the next week."
The Highlanders didn't waste any time putting pressure on the Cougars, scoring two runs in the first inning. Tyler Amos was hit by a pitch and went to second base on a passed ball. With one out, Eric Schmitt launched a shot to the right-center-field fence for a triple to score Amos. With two outs, John Boyle got an infield single that scored Schmitt, and the Highlanders had a 2-0 lead.
"When you can score first, I think it's a big deal," LaDuke said. "When you score two, that gives you a 2-0 lead and, offensively, you can do more. You can hit and run. You can steal. You can bunt. It wasn't bad, but we've still got stuff to work on."
The next two and a half innings saw no runs, but the Highlanders added a little more pressure with a tally in the fourth. Jimmy Orr singled, then Tanner Wortham got a base hit. A two-out hit by Garrett Shanks pushed Orr across the plate for a 3-0 Highlander advantage.
North Harrison threatened in the bottom of the inning as Griffin Capehart ripped a double, but the Cougars failed to bring him home.
The Cougars got another chance to tighten the game in the sixth as two runners reached base. However, both were stranded, and Floyd went on for the 3-0 win.
LaDuke said Ryan Cain's pitching and defense were keys to the win.
"He didn't give them any free bases," LaDuke said. "They hit the ball and we caught it. We didn't have any errors. When you get pitching like that and get good defense behind you, you're going to win a lot of games. That was the key."
"We just didn't hit the ball," Oppel said. "We didn't swing the bat. I'd like to see how many third strikes we took. We take pride in putting the ball in play, and right now we're not putting the ball in play. You cannot win ball games unless you actually put a bat on the ball and make them field it and throw you out."
Floyd collected seven hits, with Orr getting three. Cain tossed a complete game, finishing with seven strikeouts and two walks. The Highlanders left six runners on base.
"The last time out, he threw his curve ball for a strike and he struggled with his fast ball," LaDuke said of Cain. "Against good teams, when you can only throw one pitch, you're going to get in trouble. Today, he threw both. He threw his curve ball for a strike and threw his fast ball for a strike. He kept them off balance, and we played good defense behind him. That was his best performance of the year."
North Harrison had four hits, led by Dylan Janes' two, but also made two errors. Pitcher Chad Eveslage had a good day despite the loss, recording nine strikeouts and one walk and one hit batter.
"Chad had an incredible game on the mound," Oppel said. "Chad's ball moves. Even the umpire said something during the fourth inning. He said, 'Boy, the kid's ball moves.' His change-up and his fast ball, his two-seamer was lively."
"Dylan Janes had two hits," Oppel said. "He's been a steady rock for us. We had four hits, and he hit two of them. He hit the ball well and had one really nice hit. The second one was a nice shot up the middle, but Dylan Janes cannot do it all. He's got to have some help."
With the sectional just over four weeks away, both teams know they have much to improve on before the tournament.
"I don't expect anyone out here to make fabulous plays," Oppel said. "I expect them to make routine plays. If you make routine plays, you win ball games. Our approach to the game today wasn't very good. There was a lot of bad swings on 2-0 and 3-1. Our IQ is just terrible."
"I'd like to see (the team be) more aggressive at the plate," LaDuke said, "where we're not taking pitches and we are hitting and forcing the issue. We had some base running mistakes. We have to get better on that. That's a part of the game people overlook, base running."
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