ROACHDALE -- North Putnam scored early and often on Monday night in knocking off WCC and county foe Cloverdale 8-4 at North Putnam High School.
The Clovers started off with the lead behind the legs of Jordan Brinkman, who reached on an error and eventually scored on an Austin Mannan single.
The hosts responded immediately by loading the bases for Kaleb Belcher, who singled home two runners. The Cougars failed to add runs, however, after Shane Beamen bunted into a double play to end the inning.
North Putnam would add a third run in the second after Coy Flynn tripled to score Michael Herrmann to extend the lead to 3-1.
Brinkman scored again in the third inning after doubling to lead off and coming home on an Ethan Atwood single, closing the gap to 3-2.
But the gap wouldn't stay there for long. The Cougars loaded the bases and got the first run across when Beau Green was hit by a Justin Wilson pitch.
Herrmann hit a sac fly to push the next run across to make the score 5-2 before Jordan Nauert reached base on an error and push another run across.
Brody Perrine managed to lay down a tight bunt that left the Clover defense scrambling and saw a fourth run cross the plate. Flynn grounded out but scored the final run to give the Cougars an 8-2 lead.
Cloverdale would add a third Brinkman run in the fifth inning after the senior doubled to lead off the inning and scored later after a pair of walks.
The Clovers managed to add one more run in the seventh. Tyler Carter walked after two quick outs before a pop-fly from Will Anderson fell in play. Cody Carter singled in Tyler Carter to cut the gap to 8-4, but could not close the gap any further.
North Putnam held on to the lead behind Kyler Badten's seven innings of work. Badten allowed seven hits and four walks while striking out six.
Cloverdale head coach Bryan Archer said afterwards that the offense just couldn't get hits at the opportune times.
"First of all, give credit to Badten. He threw a great game. He mixed his pitches up well, hit his spots and gave us trouble, especially through the middle innings," Archer said.
"We had a few at-bats where we didn't have the right approach. We had a few hits, but we didn't quite come up with the big hit when we needed to a few times.
"When you don't get hits like that in a game where you're facing a pitcher like Badten, this is the result."
Archer added that the loss may be helpful to starting pitcher Justin Wilson.
"Throughout the game, Wilson would be ahead in the count, several times with two strikes. In those situations, he left the ball over the plate or didn't hit his spots," Archer said.
"Their hitters did a good job of capitalizing on his mistakes. Hopefully this is a learning game for him. When he gets ahead, he's got to be more spot on with his pitches and not make mistakes against good hitting teams."
North Putnam head coach Norm Fish said that the double play that ended the first was something that happens from time to time, but didn't stall the Cougar offense.
"We're going to play our game. We're going to put the ball on the ground and try to squeeze every now and then. I didn't want that to deter us when that happens, but were not going to let that change our game," Fish said.
"It was a good pitch to bunt, but sometimes it doesn't go your way. We kept playing, but I was kind of disappointed that we were locked in early, but when we got a big lead, we were lax and didn't finish the game.
"We've got to learn how to finish a game because Cloverdale has some good hitters and good base runners. A four, five, six run lead isn't good enough against a team like that."
Fish credited Badten for keeping the game manageable.
"Once their hitters see someone the third time around, with the bats they have, it's too risky not to put them away. We got too lax, lost focus, didn't score for three innings," Fish said.
"Fortunately, we had Kyler on the mound and he was pretty good tonight. He pitched a great game and Kaleb Belcher caught a great game.
"Five runs was all Kyler needed, but we need to learn not to settle when we have the chance to put things away."
On Tuesday, the Clovers scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat North Putnam 2-1 at home.
At North Putnam
Cloverdale 101 010 1 -- 4 8 4
North Putnam 215 000 X -- 8 11 3
WP -- Badten (2-0)
LP -- Wilson (3-1)
3B -- Flynn
2B -- Brinkman (2) (C), Flynn, Belcher