Rhodes fans 16, Cougars remain unbeaten in HHC play


Greenfield-Central’s Parker Rhodes struck out 16 in a 3-2 complete game victory over Yorktown Tuesday.

The Daily Reporter File Photo

GREENFIELD — A combination of good pitching and small-ball have got Greenfield-Central’s baseball team out to a 3-0 record in the Hoosier Heritage Conference.

The Cougars (5-2, 3-0) beat visiting Yorktown at Molinder Field Tuesday, 3-2, to keep their HHC mark unblemished. The teams will meet Wednesday at Yorktown (3-5, 2-5) to wrap up the two-game series.

Junior right-hander Parker Rhodes, who has committed to Xavier University, gave up four hits and struck out 16 to pick up his second win of the season.

The Cougars had just four hits, too, but they were able to manufacture runs with sacrifice bunts, sacrifice flies and ground outs. It accounted for all three runs.

“That’s us,” Greenfield-Central coach Mitch Gibson said. “That’s going to be us all season. We’re not a team that is going to wow you with a large amount of doubles, triples and home runs. We’re going to be a team that plays the game of baseball like everybody has known the game of baseball. We’re going to bunt, steal, hit-and-run … if we do the little things we give ourselves a really good chance to win the game.”

Greenfield-Central didn’t get its first hit until the fifth inning, but already had a 1-0 lead.

In the second inning, Gavin Markus walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ethan Ortwein and to third on a wild pitch. Dylan Luther’s ground out to the right side of the infield got Markus across for the first run.

In the fifth inning, the Cougars added two more, again turning outs to runs.

Luther led off with a single up the middle, the Cougars first of the game. Jacob Welch followed with a single to right field. The bases were loaded after Brady Johnson’s perfectly placed bunt went from being scored a sacrifice to a base hit. Kirk Knecht grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Luther, and Kyle Oden hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Welch.

“Today, two or three sacrifice bunts, one that gets past the pitcher late in the game, a huge bunt by Brady (Johnson), that’s just the comfort these guys have,” Gibson added. “They all can bunt and know I could call a bunt at any time. They know it’s team baseball. Get the guy on, get him over, play small-ball, a base hit and the next thing you know we have a run. That’s what won us a baseball game (Tuesday), playing the old school style of small-ball.”

And, great pitching.

Rhodes came into the game with 24 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched. He kept that average of two-plus strikeouts per inning, fanning 16 in the complete game victory. He struck out at least two in every inning and struck out the side in the fifth and sixth.

“(Tuesday) his mentality was going right at hitters and not trying to be too cute. He went out trying to compete from the beginning,” Gibson said.

Rhodes got in a little trouble in the sixth inning.

With the Cougars ahead 3-0, Yorktown finally strung some hits together. Landon Eppard and Jacob Grim began the inning with singles to left field. Rhodes recorded his 12th and 13th strikeouts of the game by retiring Noah Loveall and Sean Gibson. With two outs, Jayce Key singled up the middle scoring both Eppard and Grim, who had both had moved up a base after a Rhodes balk. The junior righty finished the inning with his 14th strikeout, fanning Ryan Burkholder.

“To see him able to keep that composure and not show much emotion and go right back after them after two strong hits was impressive to see,” Gibson said.

Yorktown starting pitcher Jade Limbrock trailed 1-0, but had a no-hitter threw 3.2 innings. The last batter he faced, Markus, lined a sharp grounder off the pitcher’s foot. Limbrock threw Markus out at first, but was forced to leave the game for reliever Brody Foltz.

Gibson likes his club’s start to the season, but knows there are a lot more big games ahead on a 14-game conference schedule.

Along with today’s game at Yorktown, the Cougars have a doubleheader at Delta Friday, and, of course, county rivals New Palestine and Mt. Vernon are coming up on the schedule soon, too.

“We’re going to be challenged a lot this week. This was one of four conference games, with Yorktown (Wednesday) and a doubleheader at Delta Friday night,” Gibson said. “These boys will tell you what 3-0 means in our conference. It doesn’t mean anything. There becomes a target on your back and with New Palestine, Mt. Vernon, we’ve still got some strong competitors ahead of us that are good challenges.

“But, to start the conference off 3-0 is a great start. We’re going to take that momentum and keep going. One thing we do is bring a lot of energy and these boys feed off that. It’s good for the program, good for us to see 3-0 to start the conference off, but we can’t look too much into that there are a lot of games (remaining).”

Greenfield-Central 3, Yorktown 2

Yorktown (3-5, 2-5);000;002;0; —;2;4;1

Greenfield-Central (5-2, 3-0);010;020;x —;3;4;0

Jade Limbrock, Brody Foltz (4) and Jayce Key; Parker Rhodes and Zander Cobb. WP: Rhodes (2-1). LP: Limbrock (0-2)