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HEBRON ESTATES - Forget the snow. Ignore the cool breeze. It’s time for baseball.
The North Bullitt Eagles took the field on Tuesday in the first game of the season.
After the opening win, the Eagles would finish the first week with a 1-2 record. But head coach Brian Wise is still very encouraged with his squad.
In the opener, junior Jacob Kelly got all the support he would need in the first inning as the Eagles defeated Seneca 11-2.
North Bullitt plated three runs in the first inning. Justin Stinson walked and stole second. With two outs, Kelly helped his own cause with an RBI single.
Chance Egnor and Brandon Johnson followed with walks to load the bases.
Darren Harper’s single scored pinch-runners Josh Exton and Dylan Kleitz.
In the third inning, North Bullitt gladly accepted some miscues and walks from the Red Hawks.
Logan Wyatt reached on an error and Kelly followed with a single to right. Egnor was hit by a pitch and Harper walked with the bases loaded to drive in a run.
Daulton Walls hit into a fielder’s choice to plate another Eagle. After Keaton Reitz walked, Tyler Mayberry’s infield single scored Ridley for a 7-0 lead.
Kelly, who allowed no hits through three innings, completed his final frame on the hill by allowing one run. He struck out four and allowed just two hits.
Wise said he didn’t want his pitchers throwing too many balls during the early season.
Johnson finished up with three innings of one-run work.
The Eagle fourth featured a long home run down the right-field line by Wyatt, who had cleared the fence earlier but the ball hooked foul.
Exton doubled in the inning.
For the day, North Bullitt had nine hits and Seneca contributed with three errors.
“It was a great way to start out the season,” said Wise. “Our pitchers threw strikes and we got the hits when we needed them.”
On Friday, the Eagles ventured to Grant County to face a pitcher who had already signed with Morehead State University.
The home team jumped on top early, scoring two runs in the first inning, en route to a 3-1 victory.
Darren Harper got the start and walked one and struck out seven in 3 1/3 innings. However, three of the six hits were in the first inning.
“He left a couple of pitches up in the strike zone,” said Wise. “But we still had a chance to win. If we hold a team to three runs, that puts us in a position to win.”
Offensively, North Bullitt only had five hits. Its lone run came in the sixth inning.
Mayberry reached on a single and stole second. Stinson advanced him on a fielders choice. Wyatt drove Mayberry home with a single.
In the seventh, North Bullitt got back-to-back singles from Blake Benz and Walls but couldn’t push them across the plate.
On Saturday, it was a battle against Jeffersontown. Last year, it was the Chargers who knocked North Bullitt out of the regional tournament in a 1-0 battle.
This time, there would be no revenge as North Bullitt could only muster three hits in a 5-3 loss.
“We had a lot of opportunities to put runs up early in the game,” said Wise. “We didn’t capitalize.”
In the first, Mayberry led off with a walk and stole second. He would score on Wyatt’s double. After Kelly reached base with one out, both were stranded.
In the second inning, North Bullitt put another run on the board as Johnson reached on an error and Benz hit an RBI single. Mayberry walked and runners were at second and third with one out. Both were stranded again.
“Another opportunity to score,” said Wise.
In the third, North Bullitt had Kelly and Egnor reached on walks. But with no outs, neither could score.
The fifth inning was a near repeat as two walks with one out could not result in any runs.
In the sixth, Walls walked and Benz reached on an error. Stinson’s fielder’s choice plated Walls.
On the hill, Johnson got the start and went 5 1/3 innings. The senior struck out seven Chargers and walked no one.
Leading 2-1 going into the sixth, Wise said the pitch count was low and Johnson had been throwing well. However, a leadoff double was followed by a single, a stolen base, a hit batter and another single as Jeffersontown scored four in the inning.
“Brandon threw very well,” said Wise. “It was a good outing.”
Three games into the season has proven Wise’s pre-season prediction to be correct -- he would get strong pitching and good defense. And, the offense will take a little time.
Some of the players who are new to varsity competition haven’t seen pitchers who can throw curveballs and changeups for strikes, said Wise. But, he said it is early in the season and he still likes his team.
After playing North Hardin and Trinity at home early in the week, the Eagles will play their final pre-spring break game on Thursday at home against Fairdale.
Next week, the varsity and JV teams are scheduled to play five games each at the Cal Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach.
After spring break, Wise is hoping that senior Josh Exton is ready to begin pitching. The hard-thrower who will attend Spalding University has been limited to hitting due to a sore shoulder. Wise expects Exton to be ready to throw after the break.