CRAWFORDSVILLE -- The North Putnam baseball season came to an end after a disappointing 8-1 loss to North Montgomery in the sectional matchup at Crawfordsville High School on Wednesday.
The Cougars failed to get a rally going for most of the game as North Montgomery pitcher Shawn Verhey, with the help of two double plays, faced the minimum 12 batters through four innings.
"North Montgomery played a good game," Cougars coach Norm Fish said. "I put my best pitcher out there and they hit the ball."
The Chargers jumped out to a fast lead, launching back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the first inning. Taylor Jones blasted a two-run shot to dead center field and was followed by Josh Smith, who snuck one inside the right field foul pole and gave North Montgomery a 3-0 lead.
Cougars pitcher Kyler Badten struck out the next two batters to end the inning but the damage was already done.
Badten pitched 4.2 innings and allowed seven earned runs with nine strikeouts.
North Putnam turned a double play of their own in the bottom of the third inning.
When the Chargers attempted a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the third, the batter was thrown out at first, then the base runner doubled-up as Jordan Nauert threw behind him rounding third.
North Putnam failed to capitalize on the momentum, going down in order in the top of the fourth.
Catcher Kaleb Belcher scored the lone run for the Cougars in the top of the fifth.
After reaching on a walk, Belcher stole second base, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ben Hazelgrove.
The score closed the gap to 4-1, but North Montgomery responded in the bottom of the inning, plating three runs and knocking Badten from the game. He finished having allowed five walks and seven hits.
The Cougars were without two starters, Jake Haste and Austin Day, who missed the game for personal reasons.
"We definitely felt their presence not being there," Fish said. "We had a little bit of adversity today. We're young and we're using that, but we just need to get better."
Beau Green relieved Badten in the fifth and allowed one run in 1-plus innings with two strikeout and an earned run.
Coy Flynn finished the game, walking one and recording a strikeout.
North Putnam finished the seasons 16-9 and should return every player next year.
Fish said he is confident in his players and believes they will be an extremely strong team next year.
"We've got baseball skills we just need to get more competitive," he said. "I've got very hard working players and they will get better. We're just a year away."
Verhey pitched a complete game for North Montgomery, allowing just three hits, striking out seven and walking three.
Badten had two singles and Nauert had one.
Fish said his team is ready to focus on improving in the offseason. With a number of players ready to join travel teams, the Cougars should be in a position to succeed in 2013.
"We've got great kids," Fish said. "I'm really excited about next year."