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Monday, May 2, 2016

Day blasts home run, Cougars down Clovers

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

North Putnam sophomore Austin Day gets ready to unleash a three-run blast to right field in the Cougars' 9-4 win over Cloverdale Monday. [Order this photo]
CLOVERDALE -- With dark cloud growing and dissipating overhead, the baseball squads from Cloverdale and North Putnam took the field for a big time West Central Conference clash. The teams traded leads early, but it was North Putnam who came out on top following a two-inning scoring blast.

North Putnam took an early lead over the host Clovers after posting a three-run third inning. Brodie Perrine reached on an error, and then Kyler Badten laid down a bunt and beat the throw to first to put two runners on for the Cougars.

Sophomore catcher Austin Day came to the plate and unleashed a big shot to right field that found the tree for a three-run homerun.

The Clovers responded by taking the lead in the bottom of the third after batting through its lineup.

Austin Mannan and Will Whitinger got on from a walk and single respectively. The Cougars decided to walk Jordan Brinkman to load the bases and the next two batters made them pay.

Ethan Atwood smacked a shot to right field to score Mannan, then Brian Dale crushed a shot to left-center field to bring home Whitinger and Brinkman to tie the game. Brian Dale crossed the plate later in the inning to give the Clovers a 4-3 edge.

"That was a real good ball game, really the whole way. They came back and took the lead and then Jake (Haste) got in some trouble and Tyler came in and took care of things. Cloverdale came back and took the lead, but we didn't quit," North Putnam head coach Norm Fish said.

Haste performed well for the Cougars through two innings, but it was Watson's power pitching which left the Clover batter baffled for a few innings and give North Putnam the time it needed to gain back the lead.

Watson reached on a single in the top of the fifth inning and stole second to move into scoring position. Following a walk by Haste, a long shot from Blake Knowling scored Watson to tie the game at 4-all. The next batter, Kaleb Belcher, brought home Haste to give the Cougars in front for good at 5-4.

They followed the fifth up with a six-run sixth inning with aggressive base running and a few key miscues by the Clovers.

Coy Flynn led off the inning with a towering shot to made it to the right-center field fence for a double. He was moved to third on a bunt by Perrine who was thrown out before reaching first.

Badten drove home Flynn with a shallow hit to center field. Badten later scored and Watson and Haste found home plate after balls got past Cloverdale catcher Mannan.

As the Clovers left the field, North Putnam had seized a 9-4 advantage and Cloverdale head coach Bryan Archer said it was a situation, which has plagued the Clovers all season long.

"They did a good job putting the ball in play and they had few good hits in there," Archer said. " I think we only had one walk that inning. Then we had a passed ball or two, so give credit to them at the plate, because I think all night they did a great job at the plate. They really sit back and wait for their pitch, but defensively that's something we're battling so far this year.

"Every game it seems like we have one of those innings and bare down and get through that inning and when we do we end up winning. I can see it in the dugout... tonight they just put the ball in play, we didn't make the key plays and made a few errors. Close game like that if you have that and you're going to loss," he added.

The Cougars advantage held for the final inning and a half to come away with the win. Watson recorded eight strikeouts to lead the defensive effort for North Putnam.

"We put the ball in his (Watson) hands, our offense got behind him and got the run he needed and then we kept putting a few more on. He did a great job on the mound. I was real happy to see him perform like that," Fish said.

The Cougars hit a lot of hard shots on the ground and that's something Fish has been emphasizing to his squad.

"A lot of kids came through at the right time and put the ball in play. That's what I've been trying to tell the kids, put the ball in play -- pop-ups kill us. We popped a few up, but we put the ball down on the ground and make people play and things workout for you sometimes that way," he said.

For the Clovers, Archer talked about his team's struggles with overcoming that one tough inning per game and when asked how they can power past that, he said it all begins on the mound.

"It all starts with our pitching," Archer commented. "If we're throwing strikes and keeping the ball out of the dirt, no passed balls. Then defensive feeds off the pitching and that's something the pitchers know and we talk about. You can't really do anything about bloop hits there in center, but if they don't have guys on base then that hit doesn't matter.

"I think mentally it's more of a guts kind of thing then it is physical. It's just bearing down and knowing what you have to do to get throw that inning or through the rest of the game to win," he added.

North Putnam hosts Cloverdale tonight at 5 p.m.

At Cloverdale

North Putnam 003 024 0 -- 9 8 1

Cloverdale 004 000 0 -- 4 6 1

WP -- Watson

LP -- Wilson

HR -- Day (NP)

2B -- Flynn (NP); Dale (CHS)

Next game -- North Putnam hosts Cloverdale tonight at 5 p.m.