For the Daily Reporter
GREENFIELD — After four straight losses to start the year, the Greenfield-Central baseball team nearly turned things around in a big way Saturday.
Against visiting Hoosier Heritage Conference rival New Palestine, the Cougars scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take Game 1, 4-3, and had a shot for the sweep.
Instead, New Palestine notched four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 2 for a 4-3, split-gaining victory.
Still, first-year Greenfield-Central coach Robbie Miller was happy with the daylong effort.
“We played how I expected us to play all year,” said Miller, who earned his first victory as the Cougars’ head coach. “We competed at the plate. Some things didn’t go our way, but we battled through it.”
The Cougars (1-4, 1-2 Hoosier Heritage Conference) and starting pitcher Seth Adams got off to a quick start, with Adams mowing down the first-three New Palestine Batters.
In the bottom of the first, Slater Rush drove Dallas Pribble in with a double.
Adams and company continued their dominance on defense and took down another three-straight batters in the second.
“Adams is as good of a pitcher as we’ve got in our conference,” said New Palestine head coach Shawn Lyons. “Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows that Greenfield has a great pitching staff.”
The Dragons’ offense broke through for two runs in the fourth inning and another run in the fifth for a 3-1 lead.
Keegan Watson went 3 for 4 in Game 1 for the Dragons, with Zachary Lovell and Evan Hickman delivering RBIs, and Lovell, Jason Hall-Manley and Jaret Rightley scoring runs. The Dragons also benefited from four Greenfield-Central errors.
Down 3-2 entering the bottom of the sixth, the Cougars put together a pair of base hits off of New Palestine starter Andy Edwards. Greenfield-Central also got help from a New Palestine defensive error.
Lovell took the mound in relief of Edwards but walked his first two batters to make it 4-3 in favor of the Cougars.
In addition to the double by Rush, the Cougars also got doubles by Drey Jameson and Doug Berger and a sacrifice fly by Syrus Fletcher.
Three quick outs in the top of the seventh, including Adams’ third strikeout, gave the Cougars their first win of the season.
Drey Jameson followed up Adams’ solid Game 1 with a no-hitter through the sixth inning of Game 2, and the Cougars took a 3-0 advantage into the bottom of the seventh, three outs away from a sweep.
In the Dragons’ final at-bats, Watson delivered a two-RBI single, and Tyler Woodcock and Jacob Smith collected the Dragons’ other two RBI singles to lift New Palestine (4-1, 2-1 HHC).
“They kept battling,” Lyons said. “Still, that didn’t hide some of the warts that I saw today.”
Hogan Fulkerson and Lovell (1-0) combined for seven innings of six-hit baseball. All three of the Cougars’ runs were unearned.
After 6.2 innings, Jameson’s no-hitter came to an end, and he was replaced with just one out to go.
“Drey’s a competitor,” Miller said. “He’s a great athlete; he wanted the ball in his hand, and I want my pitchers to know that I have their back.”
The Dragons were scheduled to visit Perry Meridian on Monday before returning home Wednesday to welcome Guerin Catholic.
The Cougars were slated to host Beech Grove on Monday in their fifth-straight home game. Scecina will visit Greenfield-Central on Wednesday.