For The Daily Reporter
NEW PALESTINE — Playing back-to-back games in the first two games of the season can test a team’s depth right out of the gate.
The New Palestine Dragons passed that test after defeating the Batesville Bulldogs 12-1 just one night after grinding out a win against Martinsville using four pitchers.
“We accomplished what we wanted to these first two nights,” New Palestine coach Shawn Lyons said afterwards as his team was cleaning the diamond.
The Dragons used their top two arms in Tuesday night’s win to prepare them for the conference games on Friday night, so Lyons handed the ball to sophomore Kyle Gardner for his first varsity start.
Gardner provided a steady four innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out four batters.
Back-to-back doubles by the Bulldogs’ third and fourth hitters in the lineup provided their only run of the game. After that, Gardner never allowed Batesville to seriously threaten again, as he faced only fourteen batters in four innings.
“It was nice to see him get through that first inning,” Lyons said afterwards. “As a sophomore who had never pitched varsity, I was very pleased with his performance.”
Of course, the Dragons bats did some damage, too, mostly aided by their most potent bats, juniors Jacob Hall-Manley and Watson. Manley finished the game a home run shy of hitting for the cycle, including an RBI triple in which he also scored to give the Dragons a 2-1 lead in the first inning, which they would never relinquish.
Hall-Manley followed that up with a bases-clearing double in the second inning to push the Dragon lead to 7-1. Watson had a ho-hum day, finishing 3-3 with a double and an RBI.
“Those two are our best hitters,” Lyons said. “We’d like to hit 1 through 9, and the way our bats did tonight I think we can get to that point.”
After banking two wins to start the season, the Dragons will next take the field Friday night in a doubleheader against Shelbyville.
“We’re excited to get the conference season started,” Lyons stated. “Some of our guys didn’t get back from spring break until Sunday night, so I’m looking forward to the two days of practice coming up and then to face a good Shelbyville team.”
New Palestine 12, Batesville 1
SCORE BY INNINGS R;H;E
Batesville (0-2);100;00 —;1;3;2
3B: Hall-Manley (NP) 2B: Hall-Manley (NP), Watson (NP), Christie (BHS), Wilson (BHS).
WP: Kyle Gardner (1-0) LP: Alex Roell (0-1).
Notables: Manley-Hall 3-3, 4 RBI; Watson 3-3, RBI.