CLAYTON - It was business as usual for the North Putnam High School baseball squad on Monday as the Cougars advanced to the second round of postseason action, knocking off Cascade, 9-0, in the first round of the Class 2A Cascade Sectional.
The Cougars used a five-run fifth inning to ensure the victory and took advantage of five Cadet errors in the process.
"Teams have to take advantage of any opportunities," North Putnam Coach Brett Motz said. "We threatened to score in every inning."
In the top of the fifth, the first five Cougar batters all crossed home plate to give North Putnam a comfortable 9-0 lead.
Jake Mullis pitched the first six innings of the contest, striking out 11 while giving up only one hit and two walks.
Mullis had a no-hitter going through five and two-thirds innings before Cascade's Conner Guthrie singled.
Motz pulled Mullis in the sixth inning, saying he wanted to give him the necessary amount of rest provided the Cougars reach the sectional final, scheduled for Friday.
"He hasn't thrown on three days rest this year," Motz said of Mullis. "We wanted to keep his pitch count down. I had enough confidence in my relievers."
Scott Hunt relieved Mullis and pitched a scoreless seventh inning, allowing just one hit and one walk while fanning one.
North Putnam didn't score in the first inning despite leaving two runners on, but the Cougars' bats came to life in the second.
With two outs, Kyle Rooker put NPHS on the board after driving in Griffen Dahlstrom with a single.
The Cougars added two more runs in the third after Mullis and Jordan Berry both crossed home plate thanks to three Cascade errors.
In the top of the fourth, a sacrifice fly by Shelby Reed drove in Rooker, giving the Cougars a 4-0 lead.
But the fifth inning provided all the insurance the Cougars needed as Berry, Dahlstrom, Luke Woolums, Justin Francies and Rooker all scored.
Despite getting eight hits and scoring nine runs, Motz said North Putnam will have to make better contact as the postseason moves forward.
"We have to do a better job of putting the ball in play," he said. "We struck out too many times in key opportunities."
North Putnam tallied five strikeouts in the contest. Rooker finished 3-for-5 to lead the Cougar offense while Dahlstrom was 2-for-4. Mullier, Rooker and Dahlstrom all had doubles while Rooker and Hunt both drove in two runs each.
The Cougars (19-7) will face either Monrovia or South Vermillion in the semifinal of the sectional on Thursday at 7 p.m.
North Putnam 012 150 0 - 9 8 0
Cascade 000 000 0 - 0 2 5
Mullis, Hunt (7) and Berry; Mink, McKamey (5) and Austin
WP - Mullis
LP - Mink
2B - Mullis, Rooker, Dahlstrom (NPHS)
Next Game - The Cougars will take part in the semifinal round of the Cascade Sectional on Thursday at 7 p.m.