Tough foes lead to tough losses for NB baseball

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By Mike Farner

HEBRON ESTATES - North Bullitt baseball coach Brian Wise has told his team that they will schedule anybody, anywhere, anytime this spring.

In week one of the 2009 season that meant games against two of the top five teams in the state. While battling teams from that level might pay dividends in the long run, it can cause some growing pains in the short term. That was the case as the Eagles lost to both St. Xavier and Eastern last week.

Overall, the green and gold were 1-2 before heading to Tennessee this week for a spring break tournament.

On opening day, the Eagles dropped a 7-2 decision to St. Xavier. After blowing past Beth Haven 14-0 on Thursday, the Eagles were broadsided on Friday at Eastern 9-0. A game on Saturday was rained out.

“We’re happy,” Wise said over the weekend of his team’s first three games. “On the other hand, we’re stressing that we’re not into moral victories. We played St. X close but we want to get over the hump.

“If there is a game to be played, we want to win it,” the veteran coach added. “We’re getting there. Am I pleased with the effort and our approach? Then yes, I’m happy.”

Against St. Xavier on Monday, both teams scored a pair of runs in the first inning, but then North Bullitt could not get the big hit when they needed it. The Eagles had more hits than the Tigers, but could not convert 11 hits into more runs.

After the visitors scored in the top of the first, North Bullitt came back when Jordan Mayberry singled and the senior went all the way to third when the ball got past the center fielder. Dallas May followed with a single that plated the first run.

The Eagles kept the pressure on when Doug Yates singled, but then two outs left the runs on first and second. Carter Sibley then singled and May beat the throw home.

St. Xavier then scored single runs in both the third and fifth innings before putting the game on ice with three runs in the top of the seventh.

Senior Adam Zierten was the starting pitcher for the Eagles and he worked four innings, allowing four hits and with all three runs earned. May then worked the last three innings with two strike-outs and four walks while the Tigers had four hits, scoring four four runs with three earned.

“It was still 4-2 going into the seventh,” Wise noted. “It could have been a good start. We had more hits, but we had some errors (three). We hadn’t made any errors in our two scrimmages. I felt we were one bit hit from being in the lead.”

North Bullitt didn’t need any big hits on Thursday as they rolled past Beth Haven 14-0 in a game that was stopped after five innings.

In fact, the contest was a combined no-hitter for pitchers Brad Wagner and Cody Adkins. Wagner pitched the first four innings and despite not allowing a hit, was lifted for Adkins for the final three outs.

“All the starters are on pitch counts early in the season,” Wise pointed out. “Even with a no-hitter we told him (Wagner) that he only go about four innings.”

Wagner got 11 of his 12 outs by strike-out. He did walk two batters and the pitcher committed an error. Adkins then struck out the three batters that he faced.

North Bullitt scored twice in the first inning and then added four more in the second. In the third frame, the green and gold pushed across eight runs.

For the game, the Eagles pounded out 12 hits, but the only extra base hit was a double by catcher Tyler Estep. Yates did belt three singles while junior Travis Ridley had two singles.

Eastern started the season as the third-ranked team in Kentucky and they would get no arguments from North Bullitt after beating the Eagles 9-0 on Friday.

“That was the first time in a long time we didn’t hit,” Wise noted. “We hit in the scrimmages and the inter-squad games, but we didn’t hit against Eastern.”

The Eagles had only four hits in the game and two of those were by Estep. Mayberry had a double.

Sibley was the starting pitcher and he worked into the fifth inning. He allowed eight runs and all were earned. Sibley struck out three and walked five while allowing eight hits.

Ridley got the last four outs, but did allow three hits with one earned run.

Eastern had a pair of home runs in the game with both by the same player.

“We had them out and didn’t make a catch in the fourth inning,” Wise said. “Then we had some miscommunication on some base running. It could have been a 2-1 game going into the fifth inning.”

North Bullitt left on Tuesday of this week for a spring break tournament in Jefferson County, Tennessee. The team will be staying about 20 minutes away from the school in Morristown. The Eagles will play five games in four days from Wednesday through Saturday.