Cougars start hot, Eagles rise to challenge

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By The Staff

    HEBRON ESTATES - It didn’t start exactly the way North Bullitt fans would have wanted.

    But it was a great way to begin a district game against a county rival for fans of the Bullitt Central Cougars.

    The visiting Cougars came out of the cages hungry and aggressive on Tuesday. But in the end, it was the North Bullitt Eagles who came away with the 5-4 victory and the guarantee of not having to play a first-round district baseball game in two weeks.

    Leadoff hitter Josh Wood drove the ball over the right-center field fence to jump out to a 1-0 lead.

    Austin Mason and Cory Brown followed with singles. Pitcher Travis Stepp helped his own cause with a two-run double.

    North Bullitt came right back to put two runs up on the board in the first.

    T.J. Barr and Travis Ridley walked and Cody Montgomery singled. Marcel Hull’s single drove home the first run. Cody Stinnett’s sacrifice fly plated the second run.

    Eagle starter Tyler Shewmaker settled down on the mound and shut down the Cougars over the next two innings.

    And his teammates continued to put runs on the board in each of the first three innings.

    In the second, Shewmaker walked and stole second. After a sacrifice bunt, the right-hander would score on a wild pitch. Ridley got an infield hit and Montgomery had an RBI single to take a 4-3 lead.

    In the third, Jesse King and Will Parker both singled and Shewmaker’s fielder’s choice plated the fifth and final run.

    The Cougars appeared primed for a big inning in the fourth.

    Cody Powell singled and Curtis Goins walked with one out. Bradley Combs had an single to right. After Wood was hit with a pitch to make it 5-4.

    Damon Shepherd hit a fly ball to center field. Trying to score on the sacrifice fly, Powell was gunned down on a strike from Montgomery to Stinnett at the plate.

    With Shewmaker going the first 4 2/3 innings, Ridley came in to close out the victory.

    By virtue of the victory, North Bullitt went to 2-1 in district play with one game remaining on Wednesday against Southern. The winner of that game will be the home team on the scoreboard in the district semifinal contest at Bullitt Central.

    Bullitt Central, whose lone district victory was over Fairdale, will meet the Bulldogs in a first-round game in tournament play.

    “They (Bullitt Central) came out aggressive,” said Eagle skipper Brian Wise. “Give them credit. We knew they would be aggressive.”

    As the young team approached its 30th game, Wise said the players are not getting down if they fall behind. He said it was important to get a couple of runs in the first inning and then to take the lead.

    He said Shewmaker hit his spots much better after the first inning and outfielders Aric Hester and Montgomery both made key plays in the field.

    Coming off a tough 4-2 loss the day before against Whitefield Academy in extra innings, Wise was proud the way North Bullitt rebounded on Tuesday.


Alvey comments

Good week for Eagles

    Besides the big win over Butler (see accompanying story), it was a good week for the Eagles.

    Participating in a four-team round-robin event at Seneca, North Bullitt won three more games to reach 17-16 on the season.

    “We played pretty good baseball this week,” said Wise. “We want to peak at the end of the season and we’re getting there. But we have a lot of work to do.”

    On Friday, junior Blake Hardy shut down North Hardin on only three hits in a 6-0 shutout.

    “Blake has been very good for us,” said Wise. “Blake gave us exactly what we ask.”

    Facing a left-hander on the hill, the North Bullitt bats took awhile to get going.

    Hester opened the third by reaching on an error. With two outs, Ridley had an RBI single and Montgomery followed with a double. Hull drove home two runs with a single down the third base line for the 3-0 lead.

    For the game, Hull had three hits, including a pair of doubles.

    On Saturday, Ridley had his best performance of the season on the mound against Rowan County.

    “Travis has gotten better with each outing,” said Wise of the 12-1 victory. “He’s more relaxed and he realizes that he can be a pitcher and let his defense work for him.”

    The senior allowed six hits while striking out eight in five innings.

    Thanks to some fielding problems by Rowan County, North Bullitt scored a run in the first. The only hit came as Clayton Kelly hit an RBI single.

    With two outs in the second, Barr walked and Ridley reached on an error. Montgomery followed with a three-run homer.

    Hull singled and scored on Parker’s single.

    Ridley got into the home run derby with a two-run shot in the third. He is tied with Montgomery with four homers on the season.

    In the nightcap, things were a little tighter against the host Seneca.

    Seneca scored an unearned run in the second. After a batter was hit by a pitch, Shewmaker’s throw on a bunt was wide of first base to score the runner.

    The deficit was short-lived as North Bullitt came back for two in the top of the third.

    Hester walked and Shewmaker singled. Both were advanced with a sacrifice bunt and Ridley hit a scoring grounder. Montgomery then tripled for another RBI.

    In the fifth, Shewmaker doubled and scored on Ridley’s groundout.

    North Bullitt put single runs in the next two innings for the 5-1 victory.

    “We’re starting to execute a lot of the little things we need to do to win,” said Wise.