GREENFIELD — The Greenfield-Central baseball team earned a split with New Castle in a doubleheader Friday night.
The first game was all Cougars, hitting three home runs on their way to a 17-5 shellacking of the visiting Trojans. New Castle regrouped, picking up a 9-7 win in the nightcap.
New Castle came out swinging in the first game, scoring four first inning runs off starter Hayden Kissee, but the Cougars answered quickly in the bottom of the frame.
After Mitchell Gibson and Jared Benton opened with singles, Slater Rush greeted Trojan pitcher Zach Curtis with a frozen rope that cleared the fence to cut the Cougar deficit to 4-3.
The Trojans came back with a run in the second, but in the third the Cougars exploded, with a little help from the suddenly sloppy New Castle defense. G-C plated eight runs on just three hits as the Trojans committed four miscues.
Syrus Fletcher started the flurry with an RBI single; then freshman Drey Jameson got into the act with a 2-run single before Trojan errors allowed three more runs to make the score 11-5.
While the Cougar offense was putting the ball in play, Kissee was settling in on the mound. The senior hurler held the Trojans scoreless over the final three innings, giving up just one hit.
“I like the way we came back after they jumped out with a big first inning,” said Cougar skipper Brian Murphy. “Hayden settled down and found a groove and we fielded well behind him. On the offensive side, they gave us some extra outs and we took advantage of it.”
The Cougars tacked on six more runs in the fourth to shorten the game, ending in five innings by run-rule.
Jameson hit an RBI single that banged off the fence and Ben Stephens knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly. Rush put the finishing touches on the rout with a 2-run bomb, his second homer of the game.
“Slater can really hit,” Murphy said. “I think we have seen what he is capable of but we also have some guys that will really battle at the plate.”
Rush finished with five RBI, reaching base all four times and scoring three runs.
Kissee retired the last nine batters he faced, striking out four of the last five.
The second game started like the first, but with the Cougars jumping out to a 4-0 lead. After stranding five runners in the first two innings G-C got on the board in the third inning on a three-run double by Jameson, scoring pitcher Seth Adams, who singled to start the rally, Fletcher and Tate. Kissee singled Jameson in on the next pitch.
“We started out pretty well, but we stranded some runners in the first two innings and did not take advantage of the walks,” said Murphy.
The Trojans came back in the third inning, stringing together back-to-back doubles followed by back-to-back home runs by Tyler Smith and Cory Isenbarger. Ian Massengale then hit a double and scored on the first Cougar error of the day.
The Trojans also got solid relief pitching from sophomore Garrett Welch, holding the Cougars to 3 runs over the next three innings.
“Our guys have to learn to compete a little more. We got a little complacent and they stopped kicking the ball around,” Murphy said. “They are a good team and just because we handled them in the first game didn’t mean they were going to roll over in the second game. They have some good players and they just competed harder.”
The Trojans tacked on another run in the fourth and three in the fifth inning off G-C reliever Mitchell Gibson.
The Cougars mounted a little comeback with three runs in the top of the sixth, but stranded two runners and still trailed 9-7 heading to the seventh, when Cayden Smekens came on and shut the door for the Trojans.
“It was a little disappointing to not get the second game but maybe we learned a lesson about competing and not letting our guard down.”
The split improved the Cougars record to 6-4 on the season, but doesn’t count in the HHC standings as New Castle did not have a full conference schedule.
Greenfield-Central 17, New Castle 5
SCORE BY INNINGS R H E
NC (4-4) 410 00 — 5 7 5
GC (6-3) 308 6 — 17 10 0
NC: Smith 2-3, 2B, 2RBI; Malott 1-3, 1RBI, 1SB.
GC: Rush 2-3, 2HR, 5RBI; Kissee 5IP, 5R, 5ER, 5SO.
New Castle 9, Greenfield-Central 7
SCORE BY INNINGS R H E
GC (6-4) 004 003 0 — 7 5 1
NC (5-4) 005 130 X — 9 14 2
GC: Adams 2-3, 2RBI, 1R; Jameson 1-3, 3RBI, 2R
NC: Kellogg 3-4, 3 2B, 1R, 1RBI; Welch 3IP, 3R, 0ER, 5SO