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North Harrison catcher Wyatt Faith tags out Crawford County’s Eric Harned during the Wolfpack’s 8-5 win over the North Harrison Cougars. Photo by Wade Bell

Crawford holds off Cougars, 8-5

April 20, 2011
After gaining a comfortable early lead against visiting North Harrison, things became very uncomfortable for Crawford County last Wednesday afternoon as the Cougars charged back only to come up short as the Wolfpack came away with an 8-5 win.

"North Harrison is a good baseball team," Crawford County coach Greg Gogel said. "(North Harrison coach) Gregg (Oppel) does a nice job. His kids never seem to give up. If we're hot early, we've got to be able to sustain it by being mentally tough. We don't need to be changing our swings half-way through the game because we want to hit home runs."

"Crawford County is a quality team," Oppel said. "I have so much respect for coach Gogel and what he does here at Crawford County. We're good friends, and I knew he was going to come to win. We came to win, too. We dug a hole early and couldn't find the strike zone pitching. You cannot expect to win ball games getting down 5-0."

The Cougars threatened in the first inning with two base runners but failed to convert. Crawford County then quickly got on the board with five runs in its half of the first. Evan Aldridge walked then swiped second and third. C.J. Shelton got a bunt single to score Aldridge on a squeeze for the first run.

Seth Lindauer and Kevin Aldridge both walked to load the bases. Derrick Parr singled to score Shelton and Lindauer, and Crawford County's lead was 3-0. It didn't stop there as Eric Harned singled to score Kevin Aldridge. With Parr on third, Harned worked to swipe two bases, scoring Parr, and the Wolfpack advantage was 5-0.

North Harrison left a runner on in the top of the second then Crawford County added two more. Isaac Bowles began the bottom of the inning with a lead-off home run over the fence in left-center. With one out, Ethan Smith walked and Shelton singled. Kevin Aldridge later singled to score Smith, and the Crawford County lead expanded to 7-0.

"We hadn't played for a week," Oppel said. "Crawford County had to play last night. That's such an advantage just to play. (Pitcher) Lincoln (Jones) is a senior, has not been on the mound. He's got a little tenderness in the shoulder. We thought we would give him a shot, and he just didn't have it. We're probably going to re-evaluate him."

North Harrison finally got on the board in the bottom of the third and began its comeback. Josh Wenning walked then stole second and moments later went to third on a passed ball. With two outs, Jones singled, and Wenning gave the Cougars their first run.

In the top of the fifth inning, North Harrison added two more runs. Colin Book and Dylan Janes both singled, and Jones then walked to load the bases. With one out, Tyler Cockerham hit into a fielder's choice to score Book. Wyatt Faith got an infield single to score Janes, and the score closed to 7-3.

After Crawford County failed to score in the bottom of the inning, the Cougars, in their next at-bat, put Wolfpack hurler Eric Harned on the defensive with two quick hits. With one out, Janes walked to load the bases and a walk by Jones forced in a run.

Shelton came to the mound at that point, and Mitch Bolin reached safely following a Crawford County error as Wenning scored to close the gap to 7-5.

"Our guys had a tough time getting ahead of North Harrison," Gogel said. "They hit the fast ball really well, and that pressure is consistently there. We started falling behind. We worked out of some jams that we put ourselves in. They got some timely base hits and scored some runs, and we kind of fell back up into it a little bit."

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Crawford County put another run on the board. Smith doubled and, with two outs, Kevin Aldridge stole first on a dropped third strike, a call that Oppel loudly disputed but was not overturned. Smith scored on a badly thrown pick-off attempt for an 8-5 lead.

The Cougars went three-up-and-down in the seventh, and Crawford County had the 8-5 win.

"We got long with our swings, so our approaches changed a little bit," Gogel said. "Their second pitcher (Michael Cox) did a fantastic job. He was mixing them well, mixing up zones. It took us longer than it should have to adjust. Hopefully, we learned from that. It's great to win when it's all said and done, but you can also take lessons throughout the ballgame, and we took several tonight."

"I saw a lot of great things," Oppel said. "This is a decent ball team that could be really good. We have two seniors right now that played tonight. We've got a lot of youth, but I'm excited. We've just got to clean it up. We've got to clean it up in the field."

Crawford County had 10 hits, with Shelton picking up three of those and Harned two. Crawford County threw three pitchers for six strikeouts and eight walks and had two errors.

"Hopefully, our guys will stay grounded, one at a time," Gogel said. "This one's done with. Let's learn our lessons and move on to the next one I told them it was a big league schedule. Why not get jacked up? Everyone wants to go to the big leagues, right? You're in it now."

North Harrison had seven hits, with Wyatt Faith picking up two. The Cougars had one error and threw two pitchers for two strikeouts, four walks and one hit batter.

"I think we're really strong," Oppel said of his team. "We didn't show our top two pitchers, and they had to show their best to us. … We've got a lot of tradition and we've not won anything for a couple of years. We've got to get back, and to get back, we've got to win games like this."

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