YORKTOWN — ln a battle of two teams locked at No. 5 in the Class 3A IHSBCA baseball poll, something had to give. Fortunately for New Palestine, it wasn’t the Dragons’ bats.
Matched up against one of the conference’s top pitching staffs, New Palestine used timely offense to top the Tigers 8-4 and 11-3 in Hoosier Heritage Conference doubleheader action Friday.
The Dragons (7-0, 4-0 HHC) finished with 16 hits on the evening to remain perfect on the young season.
After three pitchers combined for a one-hitter against Perry Meridian on Thursday, New Palestine rode the arm of Zach Lovell, who has yet to give up an earned run this season, for three scoreless innings in Game 1.
In Game 2, junior Keegan Watson, a Nebraska commit, got the start on the mound and recorded 13 strikeouts in five innings en route to his first win of the season.
Offensively, senior Jason Hall-Manley finished the night with two hits and two RBIs while Jacob Smith was 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Senior Evan Fitzgerald, who did not record a hit in Game 1, finished with three hits and four runs scored on Friday.
Watson was 2-4 with three RBIs and three runs.
The Tigers, who are the defending HHC champions, fall to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in conference play this season.
New Palestine jumped on Yorktown senior pitcher Jake Clawson, a Ball State signee, from the start in the opener.
Junior Jacob Smith leg out a single to first base to score Colby Jenkins. Lovell followed with a sacrifice to left field to score Evan Fitzgerald.
Senior Braden Roberts then ripped a two-out single up the middle to score Keegan Watson for a 3-0 Dragons lead.
“We put pressure on them defensively and got a couple key hits,” New Palestine head coach Shawn Lyons said after the first game. “(Braden) Roberts had a big hit in the No. 7 hole. We want to bat one through nine and so far, we have. It’s early in the season.”
After Lovell got through a 1-2-3 first frame for the New Palestine defense, the Dragons loaded the bases again against Clawson and used a Hall-Manley screaming line drive over the shortstop to take a 5-0 advantage.
Sophomore Nick Rusche and Jenkins each scored in the second.
New Palestine tacked on two more runs against Yorktown senior hurler Elijah Spears to take a commanding 7-0 lead at the end of two.
“It was a little of us and a little of them,” Lyons added of the quick start.
Hall-Manley was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs while Smith finished 2-for-4 with two singles and a RBI. Jenkins and Roberts each scored two runs.
Yorktown did not register a hit until the bottom of the fourth inning when Tigers first baseman Anthony Todd singled to left-center. The hit would unleash Yorktown’s offense as the team managed four runs in the fourth inning after a three-run shot to left field from catcher Matt Phillips, making it 8-4 New Palestine.
Lovell, who is 3-0 this year, finished with six strikeouts, one walk and not hits while Jaques finished with four strikeouts and two hits allowed.
“We asked him (Lovell) to give us 50 pitches and he did,” Lyons said.
Indiana University commit Cole Barr, a junior shortstop, led off Game 2 with a home run to deep left field off Watson to give Yorktown a 1-0 lead after one inning.
Watson, however, would make up for it two innings later. His two-run home run to deep left field, which was lost in the darkness of the sky, pushed the Dragons ahead 3-1.
New Palestine had no intention of slowing down, either.
Walks by Hall-Manley and Smith and a single from Lovell juiced the bases for Roberts with just one out on the scoreboard. Roberts plated two and James Crumlin followed with two RBIs of his own to give the Dragons a 7-1 advantage they would never surrender.
One inning later, the Dragons added four more runs on three hits including a two-run double from Lovell.
Watson was replaced after the fifth inning by senior Trent Rush, who allowed just two hits over the final two frames.
Fitzgerald led the Dragons with a 3-for-3 effort at the plate while Watson was 2-for-2 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Smith was 1-2 with a RBI.
Not your typical freshman
Not only does Jenkins lead off for the Dragons offensively, a tough position in itself, the freshman also is one of the catchers for New Palestine’s talented pitching staff.
Jenkins has already impressed his teammates in the early portion of the schedule, collecting six hits for a .500 batting average prior to Friday’s doubleheader. He struck out just once in the team’s first five games, as well, although he only played in four.
On Friday, Jenkins, one of three underclassmen listed on the Dragons roster, started Game 1 at third base and Game 2 at catcher.
“We kind of started him (Jenkins) down at the bottom of the order and he has worked his way up,” Lyons said. “He hits the ball real well in practice and has phenomenal speed. He has set the table for us the last four games.
“The moment is not too big for him and that’s big for a freshman. He belongs up there.”
Now, after seven games, Jenkins is hitting 3.53. He was hit three times by a Yorktown pitcher on Friday and recorded a sacrifice bunt in game two.
He also has just one error defensively this season.
New Palestine 8, Yorktown 4
NPHS (6-0, 3-0 HHC);340;100;0;—;8;6;2
YHS (4-1, 2-1 HHC);000;400;0;—;4;2;3
WP: Lovell (3-0) LP: Clawson.
2B: Hall-Manley (NP). HR: Phillips (YT). RBI: Smith, Lovell 2, Roberts, Hall-Manley 2, Crumlin (NP). Spangler, Phillips 3 (YT). SB: Long, Roberts (NP). Skeel, Barr (YT).
Notables: Hall-Manley 2-4, double, 2 RBIs. Smith 2-4, RBI. Lovell 6k. Jaques 4k.
Yorktown 3, New Palestine 11
YHS (4-2, 2-2 HHC);100;020;0;—;3;3;1
NPHS (7-0, 4-0 HHC);007;400;x;—;11;10;1
WP: Watson (1-0) LP: Skeel.
2B: Lovell (NP). HR: Barr (YT), Watson (NP). RBI: Watson 3, Roberts 3, Crumlin 2, Smith, Lovell (NP). Miller, Fauquher (YT).
Notables: Fitzgerald 3-3, three singles, Watson home run, three RBIs, 13k on mound, Roberts 3 RBIs, Lovell 2-3, double, Smith 1-2, RBI.