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Central Hardin coach Todd Thompson realizes the high school baseball season is long and it can be a grind at times. Players will struggle batting from time to time. What he doesn’t want is his players stressing or pressing about it.
That was the message Thompson gave the team after back-to-back losses in last weekend’s Louisville Invitational Tournament. The Bruins weren’t productive at the plate, scoring only five runs and getting 14 hits.
The Bruins showed signs of breaking out of the slump Tuesday night with eight hits against fourth-ranked Louisville Pleasure Ridge Park before exploding for 13 hits in a 12-0 rout of the John Hardin Bulldogs in a 17th District game Thursday night at Central Park.
“Our mindset and our approach were much better,” said Central Hardin shortstop Troy Squires, who scored twice and went 2-for-3 with a double. “We’ve been more aggressive. Instead of waiting around, we’re putting pressure on the defense.”
Central Hardin’s first four hitters – seniors Alex Crowder, Squires, Zach Ditto and Drew Harrington – combined for nine hits, seven runs and eight RBIs. Ditto scored twice and went 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs, while Harrington and Crowder each were 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
“I think those two losses motivated us,” Harrington said. “We started sitting on our pitch. In those losses, we hit the pitcher’s pitch. We are hitting what we want. Now we just have to keep this going.”
Top-ranked Central Hardin (23-3, 8-0 district) has won 15 consecutive games against the Bulldogs. The win extended its winning streak versus 17th District teams to 35.
Thompson has been pleased with how his team has responded in wake of the losses.
“No team stays hot the whole year,” Thompson said. “You’re going to have ups and downs. When you hit a rough patch, you can’t press. You just have to keep working and good things will happen, but you can’t stress or press. It all goes in cycles.”
What’s been good for the Bruins the entire season is their pitching. The Bruins have given up only 33 runs this season – fewest in the state. This was their 12th shutout of the season – sixth best in state history and one more than two years ago – and they’ve given up four or more runs only twice.
They got another solid outing – this time from sophomore Luke McCamish. Making his first varsity start, McCamish limited John Hardin to two singles – both by junior Lavonte Wilson – and two walks to earn the win. He struck out four.
“Making my first start, I had jitters at the beginning,” said McCamish, who threw 73 pitches in five innings. “I didn’t expect to be starting this early, to be honest with you. I just had to let my defense work for me. I had to throw strikes and get ground balls and pop flies.”
John Hardin (10-19, 2-6) was done in by another horrible start. Central Hardin jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first, the same as Elizabethtown did Tuesday night. The Bulldogs trailed North Hardin, 7-0 after two innings last week. They’ve been outscored 32-2 in those three losses.
Crowder walked to start the inning, stole second and scored on Squires’ single. Ditto followed with a run-scoring double and Harrington had an RBI single. Harrington later scored on an error and junior Isaac VanMeter capped the inning with a run-scoring single.
With one out in the second, Squires, Ditto and Harrington had back-to-back-to-back doubles. After a walk to junior Troy Riggs, freshman Justin Rouse ripped an RBI double down the left field line and junior Bart Herrin had a sacrifice fly to make it 9-0.
“I think we were satisfied,” Ditto said. “I think after we had some success we kind of lost what we had been doing. I think we realized that’s not going to work. We lost to some good teams, but you still have to score. We have been aggressive and hitting our pitches.”
The Bruins added a run in the third on Ditto’s RBI single and Crowder delivered a two-run single in the fourth to cap the scoring.
CENTRAL HARDIN12, JOHN HARDIN 0
R H E
John Hardin 000 00 0 2 3
Central Hardin 541 2x 1211 0
Brian Panckey and Landon Sisk. Luke McCamish and Gabe Hogan, Dillon Goodman (4). WP: McCamish (1-1). LP: Panckey (0-3). 2B: Zach Ditto (CH) 2, Troy Squires (CH), Drew Harrington (CH), Justin Rouse (CH).
UP NEXT: No. 1 Central Hardin hosts No. 2 Louisville St. Xavier at 5:30 p.m. today. John Hardin hosts Green County at 5:30 p.m. today.
Chuck Jonescan be reached at (270) 505-1759 or email@example.com.