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Meade County coach Todd Clanton picked an opportune time to put a play the team had worked on in Wednesday’s practice to use in a game.
With one out and two on in the top of the sixth and Meade County locked in a scoreless tie with North Hardin, the Green Wave got creative on the bases.
As North Hardin sophomore pitcher Lance Baker faked a pickoff to third and spun to first, senior Jake Wilson broke for second.
Wilson did the smart thing and got in a rundown. Before Trojans could tag Wilson out, Meade County senior Zach Kullman broke from third and scored easily.
“We just want to gain ground as long as his (pitcher’s) back is to us and when we get far enough, we’re going to go,” Clanton said. “It worked out for us today.”
Kullman’s run was the only one Josh Durbin needed as the freshman threw a complete game shutout to lead the Green Wave to a 4-0 victory over the Trojans.
Durbin improved his record to 3-1, yielding five hits and two walks, while striking out three.
“We talk about being economical and he didn’t get to 70 pitches, which was great,” Clanton said. “He pounded the strike zone and made them hit it. And today, our fielding was behind him and that’s the way you have to be with a freshman on the mound.”
Even more telling of Durbin’s performance was that he surrendered four hits the first time through the North Hardin lineup but just one against the last 18 hitters he faced.
“I just go up there and throw strikes,” Durbin said. “If they hit it, I know my defense will be there. We just did a good job.”
The Green Wave (15-14) played nearly flawless defense, and in turn, never opened the door for any big innings for the Trojans (15-13).
North Hardin senior Jordan Sanchez had a one-out double in the first but was stranded. Then, in the second, A.J. Morales led off with a single but was picked off by Meade County senior catcher Kaleb Lancaster.
The base-running gaffe was magnified when with two outs, freshman Shae Krupinski walked, sophomore Blake Yates – who went 2-for-3 – and freshman Gardy Sanchez had back-to-back singles.
Durbin worked out of it by inducing a flyout.
“We had chances to scratch a couple across but we didn’t,” said North Hardin coach Ace Adcock. “In a game that’s tight like this, you have to be able to manufacture runs.”
After Kullman doubled to the gap in left-center to lead off the sixth, freshman Kase Mattingly laid down a sacrifice bunt and Wilson was intentionally walked.
With Lancaster at the plate, Wilson put the play into action.
“We had to get it going late,” said Meade County junior Keith Carter, who went 3-for-3. “I knew one big hit from Kullman would spark everything. Once he got that, everything went.”
Meade County added three insurance runs in the seventh when senior Derek Bruner reached on an error with one out. Carter followed it with a double to left-center to score Bruner. Freshman John Michael Millay reached on an infield hit and both he and Carter scored when Meade County successfully attempted the same first-and-third steal as in the previous inning.
Two North Hardin errors later, the Green Wave led 4-0.
“We try to get as many runs as we can for our pitchers,” Carter said. “We want to make them as comfortable as possible going into the seventh so that’s a big thing.”
The loss overshadowed a solid outing by North Hardin junior starter Sy Ogden, who threw five shutout innings before being lifted for Baker. Ogden gave up three hits and walked none.
“He did exactly what we asked him to do,” Adcock said. “He pounded the zone and did what he’s done all year – attack hitters, get outs, have quick innings, letting guys put it in play and letting the defense work for him. I was very proud of how he pitched today and how he’s pitched all season.”
MeadeCounty 4, North Hardin 0
R H E
Meade County 000 001 3 4 6 1
North Hardin 000 000 0 0 5 3
Josh Durbin and Kaleb Lancaster. Sy Ogden, Lance Baker (6), Javier Echevarria (7) and Graham Mathews. WP: Durbin (3-1). LP: Baker. 2B: Zach Kullman (MC), Keith Carter (MC), Jordan Sanchez (NH).
UP NEXT: Meade County plays at Hancock County at 5:30 p.m. today. North Hardin hosts Washington County at 5:30 p.m. today.
Ryan O’Gara can be reached at (270) 505-1754 or firstname.lastname@example.org.