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Floyd fights back to top Cougars

April 28, 2010
The Floyd Central Highlanders bounced back from four errors in the third inning to put away host North Harrison in a 9-4 battle last Wednesday. The errors were uncharacteristic of the veteran Highlander team.

North Harrison’s Chad Eveslage appears to have Floyd Central’s Matt Lowe pegged at third base in the fourth inning, but Lowe is called safe in the Highlanders’ 9-4 win. Photo by Wade Bell
"Hopefully, that just kind of happened," Floyd Central coach Casey LaDuke said. "We've got a lot of seniors, and they know. There's a time we've got to urge them a little bit, but they know. That's the advantage about having an older team back. If it would have happened again, then I would have been very upset. But it didn't happen again. They came back. They took care of business and got a big lead again. Hopefully, that just shows our experience."

"Stranger things happen, and guess what happened," said North Harrison coach Gregg Oppel, who also had to deal with his own error problem. "Floyd Central, one of the best teams in the state of Indiana, had four errors. This should have been a 4-1 ball game with our lead. That changed the whole aspect, if you take away the ones we made."

Floyd Central coach Casey LaDuke
The Highlanders put singles on the board in the first three innings to take a 3-0 lead. Eric Schmitt walked in the first and scored on a Garrett Shanks triple. In the second, Tyler Barnes hit an infield single and later scored on a bunt single by Seth Huls. In the third, Shanks, who walked and stole second, scored on a single by Barnes.

North Harrison coach Gregg Oppel
"Floyd Central ran the bases really well," Oppel said. "They probably had 12 or 13 stolen bases. They had a bunch. Catching is one spot where we have to get better. It will get better. We have two freshmen catchers and a junior that are learning every day. I thought we made a couple of nice throws to second that they stole off the pitcher. We've got to get that down."

The bottom of the third inning proved disastrous for the Highlanders. North Harrison's Taylor Starcer reached first and then second as the Highlanders threw the ball away for their first error. Their second error came after Josh Wenning bunted, allowing Starcer to score. Colin Book then singled to score Wenning. A third Floyd Central error came with Dylan Janes batting and allowed Book to score to tie the game. The fourth error came two batters later with Wyatt Faith at the plate and scored Janes to give the Cougars to a 4-3 lead.

"You can live with an error, but when you make four, we made some bad decisions, and you can't do it," LaDuke said.

"We had a little talk and got on them just a little bit harder than usual," Oppel said. "What happened is what started swinging the bat. We led off with a double. We swing the bats. We do swing the bats very well. We bunted. We executed very well. I always tell the guys, if you put the ball in play and put pressure on them, they have to field it."

Floyd Central, however, made amends for its mistakes with a big fourth inning. Connor Curry started with a double and scored on a Wortham single. Huls got a bunt single, and John Boyle followed with an infield single to score Wortham. A balk by pitcher Derek Harter allowed Huls to score.

Oppel then made a pitching change, putting Sean Murphy on the mound. However, Matt Lowe immediately smacked a single to score Boyle. After Schmitt was hit by a pitch to join Lowe on the bases, the Highlanders successfully executed a double steal. A Cougar error then allowed Lowe and Schmitt to score for a 9-4 lead, which ended up being the final score.

"We came back and put a bunch of runs up the next inning (after the errors)," LaDuke said. "That helped us out, but if we don't do that, it's a game. That's going to be a tough game, so we've got to learn."

"We've had some big leads this year, and then we get a little lax," he said. "We've got to stay in the game. I think that's the biggest issue. If we can fix that and keep doing the things we're doing, we're where we're expected to be."

"Because it's Floyd Central, we didn't swing the bat," Oppel said. "We came out and took every first pitch the first three innings. We didn't swing at any first pitch, and the kid threw strikes. Every pitch, the first pitch but one, the first three innings, they were strikes. We wanted to take advantage of that, and we didn't."

Floyd Central finished with 12 hits, led by Huls' three and two each from Wortham and Shanks. On the mound, Clayton Hitner tallied nine strikeouts and one walk. The Highlanders left 10 runners on base.

"Clayton threw a heck of a game," LaDuke said. "His strength is he throws strikes. His weakness is he didn't get a lot of experience last year. Every start that he gets is just experience for him this year. He's going to be important to us when we get into the conference tournament and the sectional, so he's done a heck of a job so far."

"Our biggest problem now is leaving runners on base," he said. "That's been our big Achilles' heel this year. I bet we lead the state in runners left on base. There's a lot of games we could have bust wide open, but we just didn't do it because we haven't been getting the key hit with runners on base."

North Harrison had six hits, including two each from Janes and Book. Hurlers Harter and Murphy combined for two strikeouts, four walks and three hit batters. The Cougars stranded six runners on base.

"You beat yourselves, and we had five errors," Oppel said. "You walk and you hit batters, and that's free base runners. They capitalize. Floyd Central is well coached. Casey LaDuke is a great coach. He's got a great staff. They played better than we did today."

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