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Trojans sweep Cougars in baseball doubleheader

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New Castle freshman Corbin Malott eyes home plate during Saturday’s second game of a HHC baseball doubleheader against visiting Greenfield-Central at Sunnyside Field. Malott scored the winning run in game two and pitched 2.1 innings in game one to record a save in the Trojans’ 12-6 and 2-1 doubleheader sweep of the Cougars.
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New Castle’s Rylan Huntley fires the ball toward the plate against a Greenfield-Central batter during Saturday’s HHC baseball doubleheader at Sunnyside Field. Huntley was the winning pitcher in the first game of the Trojans’ doubleheader sweep of the Cougars.
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New Castle’s Nic Besecker hurls the ball toward the plate against a Greenfield-Central batter during Saturday’s second game of a HHC baseball doubleheader at Sunnyside Field. Besecker went the distance for the win, giving up just three hits and no earned runs in the Trojans’ 2-1 victory that capped a doubleheader sweep of the visiting Cougars.
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New Castle’s Triston Chesher (4) leads off first base as Greenfield-Central first baseman Adam Hutchinson (22) tries to keep him close to the bag during Saturday’s first game of a HHC baseball doubleheader at Sunnyside Field. Chesher scored the Trojans’ first run of the day and made several nice defensive plays in centerfield in both contests as New Castle swept the doubleheader from the Cougars 12-6 and 2-1.
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New Castle’s Colin Holcomb (14) leads off first base as Greenfield-Central first baseman Gavin Atwood (33) keeps an eye on him during the second game of Saturday’s HHC baseball doubleheader at Sunnyside Field. Holcomb had several big hits on the day, including the suicide squeeze play that drove in the winning run in game two, as the Trojans swept both games from the visiting Cougars 12-6 and 2-1.
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New Castle’s Drew Barber stands off second base after doubling in the first game of Saturday’s HHC baseball doubleheader against visiting Greenfield-Central at Sunnyside Field. Barber did well at the plate and also threw a couple of Cougars out on the bases from his catcher’s spot as the Trojans won both games of the doubleheader 12-6 and 2-1.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

Saturday was a great day to play two, weather-wise, and that certainly was the case for the New Castle High School baseball team as it swept a Hoosier Heritage Conference doubleheader from visiting Greenfield-Central 12-6 and 2-1 at Sunnyside Field.

“It’s always a great day when you play two games and win them both,” New Castle Coach Tony Gregory said after the doubleheader sweep.

The Trojans improved to 2-1 in the HHC and 4-1-1 overall while the Cougars dropped to 0-2 in the conference and 1-3 for the young season.

“The conference is kind of upside-down right now,” Gregory noted, “because teams most people expected to be on top aren’t and teams people didn’t expect a lot from are near the top. New Pal split last night and Pendleton swept Yorktown. We’re right in the mix, and as long as we win, we control our own destiny in the conference.”

The two games were a tale of two contests. Lots of runs crossed the plate in the first game, while game two was a pitchers’ dual in which runs were hard to come by and the defense shined, particularly for New Castle. The Trojans had to come from behind in both contests, albeit by just one run each time.

“I was proud of my guys because they managed to win two different types of ball games back-to-back,” Gregory remarked. “The first game we got lots of timely hits and runs and in the second game we relied more on pitching and good defense because runs were hard to come by.”

Game One

Rylan Huntley started on the mound for New Castle and gave up a one-out hit in the top of the first inning to Greenfield’s No. 2 batter Blake Wilson, who took second base on an error. Adam Hutchinson drove in Wilson with a single to left field and the Cougars led 1-0.

The Trojans went down 1-2-3 against Greenfield starting pitcher Bradley McDowell in the bottom of the inning.

Leading off the top of the second, the Cougars’ Jacob Hauser hit a ball to the infield which resulted in a three-base throwing error. Huntley induced the next batter to ground out 1-3 with Hauser holding at third base, and then Lance McKee walked on a 3-2 pitch.

Huntley fanned Mason Bussel as McKee took off for second base, but catcher Drew Barber’s throw to second was in time to tag out McKee for an inning-ending double play with no runs scoring.

That play seemed to spark New Castle as it plated four runs in the bottom of the second inning. Leading off, Triston Chesher reached base on an and error and scored all the way from there on Logan Cline’s double to right centerfield.

Barber moved to third base on Cole McDaniel’s single to centerfield and McDaniel stole second. McDowell struck out the next two Trojan batters.

But with two away, New Castle’s No. 9 hitter, Colin Holcomb, singled to centerfield on a 1-2 pitch, driving in Chesher and Cline, and Holcomb wound up at second base after the throw-in. Huntley single to right centerfield brought Holcomb across the plate for a 4-1 Trojan advantage.

Huntley retired Greenfield in order in the top of the third inning. In the last of the third, Barber led off with a double down the left field line. One out later, Cline was plunked by a McDowell pitch but was out at second on McDaniel’s fielder’s-choice grounder as Barber moved to third base. With runners on the corners and two away, McDowell whiffed the next batter to end the inning.

Huntley walked Cougar leadoff batter Nick Atwood in the top of the fourth inning, but got two fielder’s choice grounders and a strikeout to end the frame unscathed.

New Castle’s biggest inning of the day was the bottom of the fourth when it batted around and plated five runs. Brandon Matney led off with a walk on a full-count pitch and stole second base. Holcomb got hit by a McDowell pitch, and both runners moved up a base on a passed ball.

Huntley followed by lacing a double to the right centerfield fence that brought Matney and Holcomb across the plate for a 6-1 Trojan advantage, and Lucas Scroggins came in to pitch for Greenfield.

Dakota Durick singled to left field on a 1-2 pitch to plate Huntley. Barber was plunked by a Scroggins pitch, Corbin Malott came in to courtesy-run for Barber, and Durick and Malott executed a successful double steal to put runners on second and third with still no outs. 

Scroggins struck out the next hitter, but walked Cline on a 3-2 pitch to fill the sacks. McDaniel’s sacrifice fly to right field brought in Durick with Malott taking third. With two away, Malott scored on a Scroggins wild pitch for a 9-1 Trojan lead. Scroggins whiffed the next batter to end the inning.

In the top of the fifth inning, Huntley struck out the first Cougar batter, gave up an infield hit to Bussel, and then fanned the next batter of the second out. Huntley uncorked a wild pitch that enabled Bussel to reach third base and walked Wilson on five pitches.

After a conference on the mound, Hutchinson doubled to centerfield to drive in Bussel and Wilson and took third on the throw-in. Atwood walked on five pitches, and Hutchinson scored to trim the host’s lead to 9-4 on the same play that Atwood successfully stole second base. Scroggins walked on four pitches.

New Castle freshman Corbin Malott came to the mound to relieve Huntley and struck out the next batter on five pitches to retire the side.

“Rylan pitched well and wanted to finish,” Gregory said, “but he already had thrown 100 pitches. Corbin is going to be really big for us and people are surprised that he’s only a freshman. We have a few guys banged up right now and Corbin is just going to get better and better.”

The Trojans got two of those runs back in the last of the fifth with a two-out rally after Scroggins had struck out the first two batters in the frame. Huntley got an infield hit, moved to second base on a wild pitch, and scored on Durick’s single to right field.

Durick moved up to second base on a wild pitch, took third on a single to left by Barber, and scored on another wild pitch for an 11-4 Trojan advantage. A groundout ended the inning.

Greenfield responded with two runs in the top of the sixth. Malott struck out the first batter swinging after three pitches, but then plunked McKee with a pitch. McKee moved to second on a single to left field by Bussel. McKee and Bussel moved up a base on a fine play by Trojan second baseman Durick to retire Carson Gibson on a ground ball.

With two outs, Wilson singled to right field on a 3-2 pitch to drive in McKee and Bussel, cutting the New Castle lead to 11-6. Trojan centerfielder Chesher then made a great play in the field, chasing down Hutchinson’s fly ball to the centerfield fence to end the inning. It was one of several fine defensive plays Chesher made on the day.

The Trojans scored a run without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the sixth off new Cougars pitcher Hauser. With one out. Malott walked on five pitches, stole second base, and moved to third on a throwing error. After the next batter whiffed on a full-count pitch, Matney walked on four pitches and stole second base. 

With Holcomb at the plate, Hauser uncorked a wild pitch that enabled Malott to score for a 12-6 New Castle lead, but Matney was tagged out a home plate trying to score from second base on the same wild pitch to end the inning.

Malott retired Greenfield 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh, the final batter on a strikeout, to end the game after 2:35 of playing time.

“I knew I might pitch today,” Malott said, “so I just prepared myself to come in and do what I could to help us win. Getting two conference wins is big for us. Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to get to play much varsity as a freshman, but I’m glad I am.”

Game Two

As occurs in HHC doubleheaders, the team hosting is the guest on the scoreboard and bats first in the second game.

New Castle sent Nic Besecker to the mound for the second contest, and he went the distance, giving up no earned runs and just three hits to Cougar hitters.

Greenfield started Hutchinson on the mound and he retired the first two Trojan batters. Barber then belted a double to right centerfield. but he was left standing on second base as the next batter grounded out 6-3 to end the inning.

The Cougars’ lone run in the game occurred in the last of the first inning. Gibson led off with an infield hit to deep short and stole second base. Besecker retired the next two batters via pop-up and strikeout.

With two away, a throwing error on Atwood’s batted ball allowed Gibson to cross the plate for a 1-0 Cougar lead. Both teams went down in order in the second inning.

New Castle tied the game with a two-out rally in the top of the third inning after the first two batters had struck out against Hutchinson. Huntley doubled down the left field line and Durick drove him across the plate with a single to right for a 1-1 tie, and Durick took second base on the throw-in. The next batter grounded out 6-3 to end the inning.

Both sides went down 1-2-3 in the next two half-innings. In the bottom of the fourth, Besecker retired the first two Greenfield batters before Brady Mundell lined a 0-2 pitch for a single to centerfield. But Besecker induced the next hitter to fly to Chesher in center to end the inning.

The Trojans squeezed across the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run in the top of the fifth inning. Malott led off and wound up on third after a three-base throwing error on his grounder. The next batter whiffed on three Hutchinson pitches, but Holcomb’s successful suicide-squeeze bunt single drove in Malott for a 2-1 New Castle advantage.

Holcomb stole second base, but was left standing there as the next two batters struck out and popped out.

Besecker retired the Cougars 1-2-3 in the last of the fifth and the Trojans went down in order against new Greenfield pitcher Mundell in the top of the sixth inning.

Besecker got into a bit of a jam in the bottom of the sixth, walking leadoff batter Gibson on a 3-2 pitch and yielding a single to right field on a 1-2 pitch to Wilson. Besecker got Hutchinson to fly out to Chesher in centerfield.

Besecker struck out Atwood on five pitches, and then Barber whipped the ball to third baseman Cline, who tagged out Gibson trying to steal third for an inning-ending double play.

“Honestly, I didn’t have my best stuff today,” Besecker remarked afterward. “My curveball wasn’t working and my change-up wasn’t working. I primarily relied on my fastball and our defense to get them out. Triston had a great day in centerfield both games and our other fielders stepped up and made big plays, too. As a pitcher, it’s great to know you have a defense you can count on to come through. We want to carry our good play through the sectional and finally win one.”

New Castle almost scored another run in the top of the seventh inning. With one out, Malott walked on five pitches, took second on a passed ball, and got to third after an error on Tyler Thompson’s ground ball.

Malott was tagged out at home plate on Holcomb’s fielder’s-choice grounder. Thompson and Holcomb moved up to third and second base, respectively, on a Mundell wild pitch, but the next hitter popped out to the shortstop and the Trojans didn’t score.

In the bottom of the seventh, leadoff hitter Mundell was safe at first on an error, but was forced out at second base on Hauser’s fielder’s-choice grounder. Hauser moved into scoring position at second base on McKee’s sacrifice bunt, but Besecker induced McDowell to fly out to Chesher in centerfield to end the game after 2:02 of playing time.

“Nic threw well and our defense was pretty solid,” Gregory added. “We have a lot of arms and a lot of talent on this team. We’ll just continue to try to get better and take games one at a time.”

New Castle hosts Rushville Wednesday at Sunnyside Field.