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Cougars hold off Crawford rally

April 18, 2012
Anytime you put North Harrison and Crawford County against each other on a field, court or wherever, you can expect things to get a little wild in the rivalry that has gone on for so many years that it's hard to remember. Once again, it held true as the two teams met on the Cougars' baseball field last Wednesday, with the game coming down to the very end. This time, though, it was the Cougars who came out on the winning end in a 5-4 nail-biter that had everybody sitting on the edge of their seats in a cold north wind.

"That's kind of the story in rivalry games," Crawford County coach John Atkins said. "We needed one more of those and one more of that. One less error is what I needed."

Crawford County senior catcher Isaac Bowles tags North Harrison’s Michael Cox for an out in the third inning, but the Cougars still came away with the 5-4 win. Photo by Wade Bell
"Crawford's playing well," North Harrison coach Jamie Polk said. "Give them some credit. John has done a good job with those guys. We didn't play our best, but that's baseball. We were talking about some of the things and mistakes we made that we can control. It can only get better. If you get beat from a team that does better things, that's OK, but you don't want to get beat making mistakes like we did. We made some bad pitch choices and our swings and our at-bats weren't very good at times."

Crawford County scored first, but it wasn't until the second inning. Kyle Aldridge and Patrick Allen started off with back-to-back singles, but Brandon Cate's grounder to short hit Aldridge's foot for an out. Phillip Walton laid down a sacrifice bunt then Remi Griswold got an infield single to score Aldridge for a 1-0 Crawford County edge.

The next runs didn't come until the bottom of the third when North Harrison put four on the board. Wyatt Faith walked and then a Crawford County error allowed Kyle Jennings on safely. Josh Wenning singled to score Faith. Wenning and Faith then advanced on a double steal, with Jennings then scoring on a Derrick Harter single. With one out, Michael Cox singled to score Wenning and Harter, and the Cougars had a 4-1 lead.

"Kyle (Aldridge) gave up the lead-off walk in the third, and we were expecting the bunt and got the bunt, and he threw it into right field," Atkins said. "Those two runs scored, and it opened up the flood gates for a big four-run inning there. Pretty much, that's the story of the game."

Crawford County got two of those runs back in the top of the fifth. Walton singled and, with one out, Brayden Barron got an infield single that pushed Walton into scoring position. Alex Gilmore reached safely to load the bases. Then, with two outs, Eric Harned rapped a single to score Walton and Barron, closing the gap to 5-3.

Neither team scored in the next three at-bats. With one out in the top of the seventh, Barron and Gilmore walked, forcing Polk to put Sean Murphy on the mound. Crawford County senior Isaac Bowles then ripped a single to score Barron, cutting the Cougars' lead to 5-4. Harned hit into a fielder's choice that moved Gilmore, the potential tying run, to third. Aldridge, however, hit to North Harrison shortstop Colin Book, who made the out, giving the Cougars the 5-4 win.

"I think we're pretty good defensively," Polk said. "Kyle (Jennings) is really solid, and Colin is a great shortstop. We told our guys we're going to pound the strike zone. If we do that, we think we'll make enough plays to win. That play Colin made at the end was a heck of a play. He's coming up with and can probably throw the guy out by 10 feet, but he trips and falls and gets up and still throws him out by two or three steps. That's a heck of a play. He's a great athlete. He's going to have a good career in college when he plays."

"This is a team that they are not going to lay down," Atkins said of his players. "When we got down early at Northeast Dubois, we were down 5-1 after the first and 8-5 after the third, they came back and kept hitting. They don't get down on themselves. They get frustrated with themselves, and I think that's a little bit what you saw early, but, then, they saw they were still in the game. Down 5-1, they were not out of it."

North Harrison finished with five hits, led by a pair of doubles by Tyler Cockerham. The Cougars committed two errors and left five runners standing on base. From the pitcher's mound, Harter struck out one batter and walked two.

Crawford County finished with eight hits, each by a different batter. The Wolfpack made two errors and left six runners stranded. Aldridge struck out three, walked three and hit three Cougars batters.

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