Cougars hold off upset-minded Eagles
After it was all over, North Putnam coach Norm Fish called it "a wierd game." Indeed it was.
His starter only went one inning. A missed bunt on a squeeze play led to a confused base runner and an eventual out at home. Another play at home started as a rundown and ended as a missed tag and a North Putnam run.
The bottom line was, North Putnam defeated South Putnam, 6-4, to win the Putnam County Championship. The Cougars improved their record to 16-2, while the Eagles fell to 5-11.
"This is the third in a row. These kids have worked hard," Fish said. "I'm glad to see good things happen to them. Hopefully we can keep things rolling this year."
The Eagles got on the board first, tagging North starter Kyle Rooker for one run on two hits in the top of the first. Jon Davidson drove in Brad Eickhoff with a single. Fish would pull Rooker, whose pitching has been limited this season due to injury, after the first.
The Cougars came out swinging the bats as well. Three consecutive hits from Jordan Berry, Griffen Dahlstrom and Rooker scored two runs on South starter Adam Nees.
After the first, the pitchers would settle in for a few innings. Brayden Dahlstrom came on in relief of Rooker and looked sharp. He retired the Eagles in order in the the second and third, collecting three of his four total strikeouts in his first two innings. For his part, Nees faced a few more batters, but shut the Cougars out for the second, third and fourth innings.
In the top of the fourth, Eagle freshman Cameron Chestnut got things started with a one-out single. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and made it home when Bryce Steinbaker reached on an error. Although Steinbaker would make the final out at second base, the damage was done. The Eagles, who had won 10 fewer games than the Cougars coming into the game, were standing toe-to-toe with the conferenced champions.
"We expected to win this ballgame today," South Putnam coach Harold Campbell said. The coach had his team believing and playing hard in spite of the Cougars' success this season.
In the bottom of the fourth, though, the Cougars took the lead back on a series of mistakes from the Eagles. Although North had just one hit in the innings, two errors, a passed ball and a walk led to three Cougar runs.
"We had our one bad inning," said Campbell. "We gave them their runs."
With North up 5-2, it looked like they could cruise to the end. When Jordan Berry drove in Kyle Alcorn in the sixth, it looked like the seventh was just a formality.
Then the Eagles battled back.
The first three batters of the sixth reached, with singles by Chestnut and Derek Cash and a Steinbaker walk. Then a squeeze play on the bunt of Drew Cash plated Chestnut. Two more Brayden Dahlstrom walks, and Derek Cash scored. The Eagles were within two with the bases loaded, and Dahlstrom was done on the mound.
"Brayden pitched a great game. He just ran out of gas there at the end," Fish said.
Brian Blaydes came on to seal the game for the Cougars. He retired the only two Eagles he faced.
Brayden Dahlstrom pitched five 1-3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and four walks to pick up the win. Nees went six for the Eagles, allowing six runs on six hits and five walks. Nees struck out five in the loss.
"South is always a tough team. They find a way to put the ball in play," Fish said. "It's never safe against South."
For his part, Campbell was proud of the fight in his team, particularly in the seventh. "They went right back at it again," he said.
"Each game we play they get more confident. The young guys get more experienced," Campbell said.
Based on the experience of playing with a team like North Putnam for seven innings, Campbell said he wouldn't mind facing them again.
"We hope we might see them again in sectional," he said.
At the end of the day, Fish was proud of his county champions.
"We had a couple of close games. We found a way to hang in there," Fish said.
Between the championship and the first round win over Greencastle, though, Fish said his team missed out on as many as five runs due to missed bunts.
"We missed too many bunt executions today. I know what we'll be practicing," Fish said.
The Cougars return to action tonight when they host Danville at 4:30 p.m. South will be back in WCC play today when it hosts Speedway at 5 p.m.
Putnam County Tournament Championship
South Putnam 100 100 2 -- 4 6 4
North Putnam 200 031 X -- 6 6 1
Nees and Boswell (SP). Rooker, B. Dahlstrom (2), Blaydes (7) and Berry (NP).
W -- B. Dahlstrom
L -- Nees
Next game -- South Putnam hosts Speedway today at 5 p.m. North Putnam hosts Danville today at 4:30 p.m.
Cougars edge Tiger Cubs
Saturday's opening game saw a battle of pitchers in North Putnam's Jake Mullis and Greencastle's Derrik Patterson.
Mullis pitched a complete game, striking out 11 Tiger Cubs. He allowed one run on four hits and one walk. Patterson also pitched a complete game, striking out nine Cougars. He allowed two runs on six hits and a walk.
Two runs was all the Cougars needed with their ace on the mound.
"I thought if we scored two or three runs, we could have a good chance," said Fish. "Greencastle played a great game, and we expected that type of game."
In a game in which offense was so scarce, North's Rooker led the way with two hits, a double and a triple. Four other Cougars had one hit each. For the Tiger Cubs, four hitters had one single apiece.
While Greencastle coach Troy Greenlee was disappointed with the loss, he could not complain too much at such a well-played game.
"It was just a good basball game all around," Greenlee said.
A throwing error in the fourth gave the Cougars their first run of the game. Greenlee said that was the one big break either team needed to win the game.
"I was just really proud of the way our kids played. Derrik pitched as well as he has all year," Greenlee said.
The Tiger Cubs are back in action tonight at 4:30 p.m. at Cloverdale.
Putnam County Tournament First Round
Greencastle 001 000 0 -- 1 4 2
North Putnam 000 200 X -- 2 6 1
Patterson and Faust (GHS). Mullis and Berry (NP).
W -- Mullis
L -- Patterson
2B -- Rooker, Francies (NP)
3B -- Rooker (NP)
Eagles come back on Clovers
South Putnam watched Cloverdale jump out to a 4-0 lead before battling back to win their opening game in the county tourney, 11-5.
Eagle starter Derek Cash went five innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks. He struck out seven in the win. Clover starter Cody Nees went four 2-3, allowing seven runs on seven hits and nine walks. He stuck out five in the loss.
Cloverdale coach Tim Savini cited the walks as the main culprit for the loss.
"Walks hurt us. We had 11. We also had a couple errors. Right there, we're giving them 13 base runners," Savini said.
"I thought we hit the ball fairly well. In the field we didn't do terribly," he said. "No matter who you play, (walks) make it hard."
Campbell was happy with how his team came back from the early deficit.
"It was a good game for us. We came out a little flat," he said. However, after the team got down, the coach challenged them, and they responed.
"Our guys hit very well. All season long, we've been behind in games, and we've never quit," Campbell said.
Having struggled defensively all season, the coach was proud of an Eagles team that committed no errors on the game.
"They were mentally sharp today. It was a good win," Campbell said.
Chad Cummings and Ryan Shoulders led the Clovers with two hits each. For the Eagles, Eickhoff, Noah Boswell, Chestnut, Derek Cash and Steinbaker each had two hits.
The Clovers are back in action tonight when they host Greencastle at 4:30 p.m.
Putnam County Tournament First Round
Cloverdale 130 100 0 -- 5 8 2
South Putnam 004 124 X -- 11 12 0
C. Nees, Cummings (5) and Mescall (Cl). De. Cash, A. Nees (6) and Dean.
W -- De. Cash
L -- C. Nees