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May 6, 2012

H.S. BASEBALL: REALITY CHECK

Following huge 2-0 win over North Harrison, Dragons get swept by Madison in twinbill

SELLERSBURG — Last Thursday, the Silver Creek baseball team recorded one of its biggest wins of the season, a 2-0 home triumph over Mid-Southern Conference rival and Class 3A No. 3 North Harrison.

But on Saturday, the Dragons got kicked off Cloud 9.

Madison entered Silver Creek’s home field and swept the Class 3A No. 4 Dragons, 11-10 and 8-5.

“We just didn’t play hard in both games,” Silver Creek interim head coach Ritchie Ware said. “We just played poorly in both games. But you’ve got to give them credit.”

The Cubs (9-10) took advantage of an up-and-down Dragon pitching staff. For the twinbill, Madison collected 22 hits — 10 coming in the first game and 12 in the nightcap.

In the opener, Madison snapped a 5-5 tie in the top of the fourth inning by scoring five runs to go up 10-5. But Silver Creek rallied with two in the bottom of the fourth and three in the fifth to deadlock the contest at 10.

No. 6 batter Dakota Lee gave the Cubs the lead for good in the top of the sixth when he hit a solo home run over the left-field fence off Dragons’ relief pitcher Drew Sherrow. It was the second roundtripper of the game for Lee, who ended up going 2-for-4 with five RBIs and two runs scored.

Silver Creek (14-5) had a chance to win Game 1 in the bottom of the seventh. After getting the first two Dragons out, Madison reliever Ryan Thurston walked three straight batters to load the bases. But on a 2-2 pitch, Silver Creek’s Shawn Pezzullo went to far on a checked swing and struck out to end the game.

The Dragons did not help themselves out in the field, as they committed five errors.

“If we catch it and throw it, we win the first game,” Ware said.

For Silver Creek, Lucas Barnett went 3-for-3 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored and Jacob Armstrong was 2-for-4 with a double.

Madison’s offense kept on rolling to start the second game.

An RBI double by Logan Klepfer and an RBI base hit by Aaron Smith put the Cubs up 2-0 after the first. They went up 5-0 after two frames thanks to an RBI double off Clark Vaughn’s bat and a Thurston two-run single.

After Cameron Cook collected an RBI single in the second to cut the Dragons’ deficit to 5-1, Madison tacked on three more runs in the third. The Cubs’ Brandon Mann smacked a two-out RBI single to right, followed by a two-run shot by Thurston over the right-field fence to extend their lead to 8-1. For the day, Thurston went 4-for-7, including three doubles in Game 1, with five runs scored and three RBIs.

Armstrong got Silver Creek to within 8-2 in the bottom of the third when he plated Layne Taylor with a sacrifice fly.

The Dragons tacked on three runs in the fifth. Vaughn, who was Madison’s starting pitcher, walked Silver Creek’s Braydon Ware with the bases loaded. Then the Dragons’ Matt Hawn hit a Vaughn pitch off the end of his bat for an opposite-field single to right to knock in Armstrong and Shae Durham, trimming Creek’s deficit to three runs.

But that was the closest the Dragons got, as they could not score off Cubs’ reliever Bailey McDole in the final two innings.

Silver Creek had a chance to tie it in the sixth. With runners on second and third with two out, Armstrong hit a hard grounder to Mann at second. Mann mishandled the ball, but he recovered and his throw to first beat the hard-charging Armstrong by a hair.

Taylor scored two runs and stole two bases. Silver Creek was without one of their top hitters in Jared Vest, who suffered a case of appendicitis at the end of last week.

Silver Creek starter Brooks Howell got his first loss of the season. In a three-inning stint, Howell gave up all eight Madison runs (all earned) on 11 hits with two strikeouts, one walk and one hit batsman.

Dragons’ reliever Nick Arbogast gave a solid effort, pitching three scoreless innings. He gave up no hits and no walks, while striking out three and hitting two batters.

Coach Ware says he is trying to increase Arbogast’s innings, so the right-hander can prepare for critical upcoming games.

“We’re trying to work him in by the end of the year,” Coach Ware said. “I thought Nick did a good job today.”

Madison head coach and Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame member Gary O’Neal was happy to see his players come through after losing several close games this season.

“We’ve been knocking at the door. We’ve been so close,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal, who previously coached Madison for 28 seasons, is in his first year back with the Cubs after a 10-year hiatus. He led Madison to the Class 3A state championship in 1999.

Despite being away from prep coaching for a decade, O’Neal said the high school game has not changed much.

“It’s high school baseball — every inning counts. You’ve got to have courage to play this game,” O’Neal said.

Silver Creek will host Charlestown at 5 p.m. on Monday.

MADISON    230 501 0—11 10 4

SI. CREEK    122 230 0—10 12 5

    W — McDole. L — Sherrow (0-1). 2B — Thurston 3 (M), Klepfer (M), Durham (SC), Armstrong (SC), Barnett (SC). HR — Lee 2 (M).

MADISON    233 000 0—8 12 1

SI. CREEK    011 030 0—5  5 2

    W — Vaughn. L — Howell (3-1). 2B — Vaughn (M), Klepfer (M), Lee (M), Durham (SC). HR — Thurston (M).

    Records — Silver Creek 14-5, Madison 9-10.

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