By Gregg A. Sims
Baseball was far from a thing of beauty for North Daviess at Wayne Davies Field Friday, but after everything was done, baseball really didn’t look all that bad.
The Cougars scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to clip Southwestern Indiana Conference foe White River Valley, 4-3.
The Cougars got the two runs on two singles, an intentional walk, a stolen base and two wild pitches before a game-ending error sent the home fans home happy.
“It was a very strange game,” North Daviess coach Zach Stoll said. “We hadn’t played very well, but we played better at the end.”
The winning rally started with an infield single by Scottie Woodruff who barely beat the throw to first from Wolverine thirdbaseman Jordan English who tried to cut the ball off.
Alex Wittmer then laid down one of the few successful sacrifice bunts from either squad after Woodruff had reached second on a wild pitch from Wolverine starter Ethan Sparks.
“Al (Wittmer) got the job done when we needed it,” Stoll said. “He moved the guy and put some pressure on them.”
With Woodruff on third, Conner Wikle lined a ball into center to tie the game.
But that was just the beginning of a very interesting ending.
Wikle stole second with Lewis Nugent at the plate, and the Wolverines gave Nugent first with an intentional walk.
Sparks then threw a second wild pitch moving the runners to second and third.
With one out and the winning run 90 feet away, the Wolverines pitched to Cougar fourth-place hitter Anthony Steffey. Steffey hit a 1-0 ball back to Sparks who threw to first for what seemed to be the second out.
But Wolverine firstbaseman Andrew Hamilton couldn’t handle the toss, and when the ball popped out of his mitt back toward home, Wikle came home with the winning run.
Sparks pretty much had things his own way after giving up two runs in the opening inning. He had fanned 10 hitters through the first six and had given up four hits.
Steffey’s first-inning double scored one run after Nugent lifted a long fly to left that scored the first run for North Daviess (6-10, 3-3 Southwestern).
The Wolverines chipped away at Wikle, scoring one run in each of the first three frames.
They took a 3-2 lead in the third despite Wikle fanning four hitters. Sparks went down for an apparent second out. But the low pitch eluded Cougar catcher Jaden Wagler, and Sparks eventually scored on a single by Michael Fisher and a balk on Wikle.
“It was a very unusual game from the get-go,” Stoll said. “It was a very unusual game. I was just thinking about getting that last run in.”
And while that would have been a rather tough way to lose a game, Wikle scored the winning run.
He pitched six innings, fanning nine hitters and allowing four hits and walks.
“Conner tends to get better as the game goes,” Stoll said. “He threw his best innings after he got over 80 pitches in his last two innings. He’s got to get that figured out. We need to have him throwing like he was at the end at the beginning.”
Adam Wagler came in to relieve in the seventh, and got the win on the mound.
“It just seemed like neither team really came out with a lot of energy,” Stoll said. “I know we were flat. Looked like they were flat too. It is what it is. When you have 15- to 18-year-olds, that’s what happens sometimes.”
The Cougars now play at Barr-Reeve at 11 a.m. today. The game is a traditional wooden bat game, but the two squads will use metal.