ROACHDALE -- Greencastle and North Putnam's baseball squads were ready to go Monday for the WCC opener. The skies, on the other hand, said Tuesday was the better day for baseball.
For the first six innings, the Cougars agreed with that assessment as they built a 3-0 lead heading into the top of the seventh inning.
It was there, though, that the Tiger Cubs finally snapped out of the fog they seemed to be sitting in, powering four runs in and claimed their first conference win of the season 4-3.
Both squads threatened to score multiple runs in the first but the only blow was struck by North Putnam first baseman Tyler Watson, who hit a sky high pop-up that rode the wind all the way out of the ballpark to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
The hosts tacked on a second run after Michael Herrmann reached base on an error. Blake Knowling hammered a shot to center field, allowing Herrmann to score, but was caught trying to take second and prevented any further damage from being done.
Greencastle had a chance to grab a run in the fifth when Andy Bell laced a two out single to left. He took second on a wild pitch, but was thrown out at third when a called fourth ball to Tanner Parker went beside Cougar catcher Austin Day, and the alert backstop gunned his opposite number down.
In the bottom of the same inning, North Putnam loaded the bases with two Tiger Cub errors and a single. However, Greencastle pitcher Keegan Remsburg buckled down, inducing Watson to pop up in the infield and striking out third baseman Jake Haste to end the threat.
The hosts would tack on a third run when Day started the bottom of the sixth off with a solo shot to center field. With the way the Tiger Cub bats silent, the lead seemed secure going into the final inning.
Up to that point, Cougar pitcher Kyler Badten had scattered five hits over six innings and fanned eight batters. The sophomore was in a groove and seemed to have Greencastle's number.
Jesse Vermillion started off the seventh with the hardest hit ball off of Badten to that point for a double. Following Vermillion, Dylan Linton smoked a shot off the fence in center to drive in Vermillion and give the Tiger Cubs life.
Badten was removed and Watson looked to shut the game down, starting by getting Nataniel Velasquez to fly out, advancing Linton. Bottom of the order hitter Ryan Battin, who had struck out twice, then hit a single to drive in Linton to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Bell hit a shot deep to right field that was hauled in by Knowling, allowing Battin to move over to third base and give Parker a chance to drive in the tying run. Parker did one better when, on a 2-2 count, he connected with a shot that cleared the right field fence and gave the Tiger Cubs a 4-3 lead.
North Putnam tried to rally in the bottom half of the inning, and though they got two runners on base, Haste grounded out to shortstop Ryan Pettit to end the game.
After such a dramatic turnaround, Greencastle coach Troy Remsburg was wondering where the bats came from, considering the performance put in by Badten.
"We just weren't hitting the ball. They were pitching well. Kyler Badten pitched a tremendous game. Really, we didn't deserve to win it, but we came alive at the end. He had our guys struggling, and my hat's off to him," Remsburg said.
"The batters finally woke up. That's the way we hit the ball, we just waited until the last inning to do it. They did a good job of pitching to us and kept us on our toes and we just couldn't get it going until the end."
After the loss to West Vigo, there were some encouraging signs from the Tiger Cub defense.
"Keegan had his best outing here tonight. He only threw 89 pitches here tonight," he said. "He threw 80 in three innings against West Vigo. He pitched well enough for us to win but we have to hit well enough as a whole behind him instead of waiting for the last inning.
"Defensively, we played alright. We had a couple of errors, take those away and they may not have had a couple of those runs. All in all, we played good, but still not where we need to be to be competitive.
Conversely, Cougar head coach Norm Fish was left to wonder how it all went awry.
"Well, we started out pretty good. It was a matter of whether Kyler could finish or not. Early on this season, he's got about 90 pitches in and he was starting to get tired. I felt safe in giving the ball to Tyler Watson. It's kind of what his role is going to be this year, close a few games out," Fish said.
"They just outplayed us in the last inning. They got the big hits when they needed them and we left too many guys stranded like we did Friday night. Big hits at big times is what wins ball games and they got them. I give all the credit to Greencastle, they came out and won the game in the seventh."
"We've got to come out and play defense, and I thought we played pretty well. We saw some good things offensively. It's just baseball. We didn't do anything wrong tonight. We just didn't get the big hits and Greencastle did," Fish added.
Monday's postponed game between the two sides will be played on Friday. Both coaches pointed out that hitting was going to need to improve before then.
"We're going to be in close ball games. We're not going to blow anyone out. We've got to play close and get the big hits to get our fair share of wins. If we don't, we're going to be on the short end of a lot of these games," Fish said.
"Well, we're going to have to definitely hit the ball better. They'll probably send Watson at us, maybe even Badten again. We're going to have to adjust a little better to hitting curveballs. Defensively, I think we're alright, but we're going to have to start hitting the whole game like we did in the seventh inning," Remsburg said.
At North Putnam
Greencastle 000 000 4 -- 4 9 3
North Putnam 110 010 0 -- 3 6 1
WP -- Remsburg (1-1)
LP -- Watson (0-1)
2B -- Vermillion, Linton (G)
HR -- Watson, Day (NP)
Next Game -- Greencastle will host North Putnam Friday at 5 p.m. (rescheduled from Monday.) North Putnam will host Turkey Run Thursday at 4:30 p.m.