For the Daily Reporter
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Eastern Hancock baseball team is looking to break records.
Heading into Saturday’s doubleheader against Daleville, Eastern Hancock had registered 10 wins. The school record is 13, and the team is confident of eclipsing the mark.
“The 14-win season is definitely achievable,” Royals senior Cole Fout said Saturday.
Led by six seniors — Fout, Austin Clutinger, David Johnson, Austin Lacy, Brandon Reid and Devon Wagoner — and a deep pitching staff, Eastern Hancock has experienced a resurgence. After being swept by Knightstown in a doubleheader April 18, Eastern Hancock — 7-15 a year ago and 2-20 in 2013 — ripped off a six-game win streak, which ended last week.
“Our seniors have been wonderful for the program,” Royals coach Chad Coughenour said. “They work hard and are great leaders to the younger kids that are here.”
It’s not only the seniors who are propelling Eastern Hancock (10-8) towards a possibly historic season. Sandwiched around the loss to Greenfield-Central, junior Tom Barton threw a no-hitter for the Royals and sophomore Clayton White pitched a perfect game.
Some of the club’s recent luster was dimmed after being swept by Daleville (9-10), but Eastern Hancock showed flashes of its potential.
In Game 1, Eastern Hancock lost 4-1 in a nine-inning affair. Wagoner threw eight-plus innings while only allowing three hits and two runs. Two of Eastern Hancock’s hits were by Fout, who finished 2-for-4 with two doubles.
“Devon threw his best game of the year,” Coughenour said. “He keeps the ball down and throws ground balls. He threw a great game.”
The pitching was not enough, however, as the Royals’ offense left nine men on base. Their lone run came in the second inning when Johnson made it to first on an error, advanced to second base after a walk, took third base on a passed ball, and stole home after teammate Addison True froze the pitcher by faking a steal of second base.
“A 1-1 game through eight, and we just didn’t take advantage of our opportunities early in the game,” Coughenour said.
Game 2 did not go as well for the Royals. With rainstorms advancing, Eastern Hancock was no-hit by Daleville’s Corbin Maddox in a 12-0, five-inning loss.
“We’ve worked for the last few years with this group to really build who we wanna be, and we’ve gotten away from that the last couple of days,” Coughenour said.
Even with the losses on Saturday, Fout, who will attempt to walk on to the Purdue baseball team next year, is optimistic the team can accomplish its goals.
“Knightstown will be our toughest opponent in the sectional. We didn’t play very well against them earlier in the year, but I know we can play with them,” Fout said of the Class 2A No. 1-ranked Panthers, who swept the Royals, 16-6, 11-1.
Coughenour’s goals are more subdued: “We’ve just got to get back to basics and get back to who we are before the grind of the postseason. We take pitches; we hit the ball opposite field and play defense.”
Centerville will host the Royals and Panthers in Sec-tional 41 from May 27 to June 1.
Eastern Hancock will have a chance to get closer to a school-record 14 wins this week. It was scheduled to host Liberty Christian on Monday and will host South Decatur on Wednesday.