Offense comes alive for Eagles on trip

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 MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Whatever happened over the past week to the North Bullitt Eagles, baseball coach Brian Wise would like to bottle it.

Well, if he couldn’t physically bottle the offensive explosion that occurred over a six-game period, he was able to bring back some of the dirt from the Ripkin Experience in Myrtle Beach.

A team that had struggled at the plate early in the season came out of its shell in defeating all six teams it faced during the annual spring break trip.

“This is just what we thought we were capable of all along,” said Wise. “I don’t know if it was a change of scenery or what. We bottled up some dirt to bring some of it back.”

Playing in a variety of field configurations to replicate the old-time baseball stadiums, North Bullitt played long ball seven times and hit a lot more that would have been out of the park on most high school fields.

“Even when we made outs, we hit the ball hard,” said Wise, whose team went to 10-5 on the season. “Hitting is contagious. Everyone wanted to be part of it.”

Coming into the week, Wise said there really wasn’t any way to know about the caliber of the opponents. They did learn that Friday’s opponent, Rabun Gap, had just defeated DeSales, a perennial regional contender and future North Bullitt opponent.

In the opener, North Bullitt jumped on top early and defeated Grayson County 11-1 in five innings. Blake Hardy went the distance on the mound.

Clayton Kelly tripled to lead off the game and then scored on Marcel Hull’s single.

Mitchell Hutchison walked to start the second and Cody Stinnett hit an RBI double. Will Parker hit a sacrifice bunt and Ben Evans scored on a wild pitch. Kelly singled, stole second and scored on T.J. Barr’s RBI single. Cody Montgomery tripled and Hull sent him home with another single.

The most competitive game of the trip was also the craziest.

Harlan County’s lead off hitter homered to start a four-run first inning.

But the Eagles settled down and tied the score in the bottom of the inning. Kelly was hit by a pitch and Barr’s sacrifice bunt was misplayed. Both scored when Montgomery doubled. The night’s pitcher then scored when Hull doubled and he would score on a wild pitch.

Harlan County came right back in the second with a two-run homer.

The Eagles would take a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the third without a single hit.

Tyler Shewmaker and Reid Padgett both walked. Evan Bickett and Jared Abell both reached on errors. Throw in three wild pitches and a passed ball and the Eagles took the lead.

Harlan County scored on a walk and a triple to knot the score but Shewmaker homered to retake the lead. Stinnett doubled and Bickett had an infield single. Abell’s fielder’s choice plated the ninth run.

In the seventh, Harlan County scored two runs to tie the score. But North Bullitt won the game as Kelly walked and Montgomery brought him home for the 10-9 victory.

Shewmaker picked up the win on the mound in relief.

North Bullitt picked up the first of two wins over Deer Lake on Thursday.

In the first, Kelly doubled and Barr’s bunt was misplayed and he wound up at third base. Hull drove home the second run with a single.

The Eagles would score another two runs in the second. Stinnett walked and Parker’s bunt was misplayed. Bickett singled home a run and Montgomery singled home the fourth run.

Hutchison doubled and scored on Stinnett’s sacrifice fly. Kelly then hit a two-run homer for a 7-1 lead.

That was more than enough for Abell, who pitched six innings. Kyle Peyton closed out the 11-3 victory.

It was another five-inning victory in the nightcap as North Bullitt defeated McGoffin County 13-2.

The Eagles scored seven runs in the first inning. Kelly tripled and Montgomery singled. Hull followed with a two-run homer. Shewmaker tripled and Padgett hit an RBI double. Jesse King singled and Hardy had an RBI double. Peyton reached on a third-strike wild pitch and Kelly hit a two-run double.

Bickett had plenty of run support as he pitched the complete game.

On Friday, North Bullitt jumped on top 2-0 in the first inning against Rabin Gap. Kelly singled and Shewmaker sacrificed. Montgomery doubled and Hull singled.

In the second, King singled and would score on Hardy’s double play.

The Eagles scored three times in the third. Hull led off with a solo home run and then three straight walks was followed by an RBI single by Parker and another RBI double play by Hardy.

That would be all Barr would need on the hill. He spaced 11 hits in the 12-3 victory.

In the finale, North Bullitt defeated Deer Lake 16-1. In that contest, Shewmaker got the win on the hill. Hull, Kelly and Montgomery each hit home runs.

“Our pitching continues to be outstanding,” said Wise. “Our hitting definitely improved.”

Going into the week, three players were hitting above .300. At week’s end, seven players are hitting .280 or better.

As the Eagles entered play this week, Wise said the nine seniors understand the importance of Tuesday’s district game against Fairdale.

“I couldn’t have been more pleased with the past week,” said Wise. “It was a great trip for the players and for their parents. The seniors showed great leadership on the whole trip.”

The junior varsity team also had a good week with a 3-1 record.