GREENCASTLE -- Kyle Nobles has spent this baseball season waiting for an injury to heal sufficiently to allow him to pitch more than a couple of innings and raise the velocity on his fastball. That game arrived Saturday and the timing couldn't have been better.
The senior right-hander tossed a one-hitter to carry Greencastle past North Putnam, 2-1, for the Putnam County championship on the Tiger Cubs' field.
C.J. Lofton's bloop single to center with one out in the seventh inning was the Cougars' only hit. Nobles struck out nine and walked five in the complete-game effort.
"This was county, my senior year and it was time to go all out," Nobles
said. "It worked out."
Nobles strained his pectoral muscle, in the chest near his right shoulder, lifting weights early in the season, and it has limited his appearances and innings on the mound.
"This was his first full game all year," Greencastle coach Troy Remsburg said. "We had to try to save him for later in the season. One of our goals was to win county and it came true. That's the hardest (Nobles) has thrown all year."
Nobles hadn't pitched in nearly a month. He'd thrown three innings against South Putnam in his last outing.
"It felt good to pitch again," Nobles said. "I've missed it so much. I'm not fully healed, but I'm slowly regaining strength and able to throw longer."
Nobles had to rely on his fastball against the Cougars.
"My curve worked every now and then," he said. "It wasn't a go-to pitch."
The Cougars (11-14) threatened to score in the top of the first. Nobles hit leadoff batter Shawn Diebold and walked Mitchell Crum. Diebold stole second and third and Crum took second.
With runners on second and third and nobody out, Nobles struck out the next three hitters, the heart of North Putnam's lineup.
It was an extremely well pitched and well played game. North Putnam starting pitcher Reece Heron held the Tiger Cubs to two hits and no runs entering the bottom of the sixth inning.
"He (Heron) kept us off balance and we couldn't get our big bats going," Remsburg said.
After Greencastle's Logan Grzesiek led off the sixth with a single to left, Crum relieved Heron.
Grzesiek stole second and Andy Bell ran for him. Trey Ford's ground-ball single to left drove in Ford, who ran aggressively and slid across the plate just ahead of the tag by catcher Scott Hunt. Ford took second on the throw to the plate.
After Nobles was walked intentionally, Graham Shuee's fly ball to centerfield was deep enough to allow Ford to tag up and move to third.
With two outs, Ford scored on an infield throwing error to lift Greencastle to a 2-0 lead.
Nobles didn't know he had a no-hitter going into the seventh.
"No, I didn't," Nobles said. "I concentrated on getting outs."
Nobles got the first out in the seventh, but Lofton fought off an inside fastball for the bloop hit to center.
"It was in no-man's land," Remsburg said.
North Putnam's Travis Kratt walked. After Nobles got the second out, Greencastle made an infield error on a hard-hit ground ball and Lofton scored.
With the go-ahead runners on second and third, Nobles struck out the final North Putnam batter.
"We all played well," Nobles said. "It was a big win, a team win. I had great defense. We haven't won county in a while."
It was Greencastle's (8-15) fifth straight win.
"We've been on a roll," Remsburg said.
North Putnam coach Norm Fish refused comment following the game.
The Cougars defeated South Putnam 3-1 in Saturday's opening-round game for the county championship. It was originally scheduled for the previous Saturday and postponed by rain.
Crum allowed two hits, struck out nine and walked none in an outstanding seven-inning effort on the mound. He also had a solo home run to centerfield in the first inning.
Diebold had an RBI single in the seventh and Mychael Buchanan had an RBI on a squeeze bunt for the Cougars. Hunt and Brock Jones also had singles for North Putnam.
Putnam County Championship
North Putnam 000 000 1 -- 1 1 1
Greencastle 000 002 x -- 2 4 1
WP -- Nobles
LP -- Crum
Heron, Crum (6) and Hunt; Nobles and Johnson.
Hits -- (NP) Lofton 1B; (GHS) Mahoney 2B, Bartrum 1B, Grzesiek 1B, Ford 1B.