Pike Central outlasts Thunderbirds 13-10 in eight innings

Friday, April 21, 2017
Pike Central catcher Race Britton asks for the call, but the umpire rules that Jackson Rogers is safe Wednesday night as he scores Eastern’s final run to tie the game at 10-all in the bottom of the seventh.
By Andrew Bowen

LITTLE CINCINNATI -- The final lift of the seesaw found Pike Central on top.

The Chargers (6-4) scored three runs in the eighth inning Wednesday night to pull out a 13-10 win over host Eastern (2-8) in baseball. The contest proved a back-and-forth battle as there were four lead changes and two ties.

Both teams banged the ball well, rapping out 15 hits apiece, including seven doubles and three homers. Several hits came on bad hops, including a single by Nathaniel Nolting that jacked the Chargers’ third baseman’s jaw in the bottom of the fourth and gave Eastern bases loaded with two out, Pike getting out of the inning on a force-out at second. Eastern coach Ben Hutcherson said the infield is as hard as concrete because it’s been so dry. However, he said some hops should have been handled better.

Nathaniel Nolting swings at a pitch Wednesday night. He drove in Eastern’s final run with a single.
By Andrew Bowen

“It’s a problem we’re trying to get fixed this season,” he said, “but it’s a slow process.”

Hutcherson said he thought Eastern got some good innings from its pitchers, including Nick Abel who started the game, left in the third, and returned in the seventh. He described the Chargers as a “real good hitting team.”

“I thought they threw pretty well,” Hutcherson said. “(Abel) is a senior kid and I trust him.”

Eastern third baseman Caleb Hamilton catches a foul pop in front of his dugout to retire the Chargers’ side in the sixth inning.
By Andrew Bowen

Eastern jumped on Pike for two runs in the bottom of the first inning. However, Troy Rickard slammed a home run as the Chargers countered with three in the second. They tacked on a singleton run to go up 4-2 in the top of the third.

Nolting started the Thunderbirds off on the right talon in Eastern’s half of the inning by blasting a solo home run. Caleb Hamilton followed with a double, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on Brady Anderson’s single up the middle. Makoto Onuma drew a walk, but catcher Braxton Rice caught Anderson trying to steal third and the Chargers turned a double play to get out of the inning.

The Chargers put men on first and second to start the fourth, but Eastern got out of the inning as Onumo turned two grounders to short into force-outs at third and second. Jacob Marchino broke the 4-4 tie in the fifth with a two-run homer over the left-center fence.

J.W. Howard dodges a pitch. Howard drove in two runs in the bottom of the fifth with a single.
By Andrew Bowen

The Thunderbirds struck back with five runs in their half of the inning as J.W. Howard drilled a two-run single to left and Hamilton drove in two more runs with a ground-rule double that bounced over the right-center fence 343 feet from home.

The visitors loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh. Three straight walks tied the game and Connor O’Neal gave Pike a 10-9 lead with a sacrifice fly to right.

In Eastern’s at-bat, Jackson Rogers drew a walk with one out. Nick Abel lashed a grounder to pitcher Braxton Rice who tried for a force-out at second, but Rogers beat the throw. He came home on Nolting’s single to right, a hit Nolting got after fouling off several pitches with two strikes. Hutcherson praised Nolting for a high baseball IQ.

Eastern’s players greet Nathaniel Nolting (far right) as he comes home after blasting a solo home run.
By Andrew Bowen

“He’s hitting the ball fantastic right now,” Hutcherson said. “He’s hitting the ball with two strikes. He’s finding ways to get on.”

Rice issued an intentional walk to Hamilton and retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.

The Chargers loaded the bases with one out in the top of the eighth, and Chase Davis emptied them with a double to right-center. The T-Birds got out of the inning without further damage, but could not score in the their half of the inning despite putting two men on base.

“It was a good game,” Hutcherson said.

Eastern had been scheduled to play Brown County Thursday night, but that game was cancelled and no makeup date has been set.

The Thunderbirds will host Shakamak at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Pike 031 020 43 -- 13 15 1

Eastern 202 050 10 -- 10 15 1

Rickard, Con. O’Neal (2), Britton (3), Church (5), Rice (6) and Rice and Britton (6); Abel, Newton (3), C. Hamilton (7), Abel (7) and Padgett. W -- Rice. L -- Abel. 2B -- Anderson (E), Davis (PC) 2, C. Hamilton (E) 2, Con. O’Neal (PC), Rogers (E). HR -- Marchino (PC), Nolting (E), Rickard (PC). SF -- Con. O’Neal (PC). DP -- Pike Central 1.

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