By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
Augdon Wilson knew Tuesday’s game against Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Yorktown could come down to one or two big plays.
But the Pendleton Heights senior had no way of foreseeing he would be a key player in them.
Wilson’s RBI single gave the Arabians their first lead in the third inning, and his two-out, bases loaded single in the seventh lifted the home team to a 3-2 victory at Bill Stoudt Field.
“We expected it to be a close game,” Wilson said. “We know Yorktown is a good ballclub.”
So is Pendleton Heights (13-3).
The victory was the 12th in the last 13 games for the Arabians, and it lifted the team to 8-1 in HHC play. Pendleton Heights won its fifth Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament championship last month to check off the first of its season goals.
The conference crown is next on the list, and the Arabians have doubleheaders remaining against New Palestine (Friday) and Mount Vernon (May 17) with a rematch against the Tigers (May 14) sandwiched in between.
“That’s a good ballclub they’ve got over there,” Pendleton Heights coach Travis Keesling said. “We were fortunate enough to have our one and two (pitchers) ready to go.”
Midweek league games can be tough.
Most HHC contests are played as doubleheaders on Fridays, and teams can save their best pitchers for those games. Throw in a one-off midweek game like Tuesday’s against Yorktown (13-7), and pitching becomes a bit of a puzzle.
Keesling solved it by throwing ace Taylor Rogers for the first two innings, bringing in reliever Justin Kirkpatrick for the middle three and having No. 2 pitcher Cody Altherr close out the final two.
It worked like a charm.
Rogers allowed just one hit and an unearned run during his stretch, and Kirkpatrick surrendered just one run on three hits. Altherr struck out two, walked two and allowed just a single hit over the sixth and seventh innings.
He got clean-up hitter Zeth Tanner to ground out to shortstop with runners on first and second to end the seventh and set up Wilson’s heroics.
“Our pitching staff is really starting to find their roles,” Keesling said. “That’s what you have to have, especially going into the (sectional) tournament.”
Yorktown took the lead in the second inning when freshman Jake Clawson hit a two-out double, advanced on an error and scored on a wild pitch.
Pendleton Heights tied it in the bottom half of the frame when senior Kurt Talbert was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning — one of eight free passes issued by Yorktown starter Kam Kennedy, who went the distance — and scored with two outs when sophomore Thomas Hall reached on an error by the Tigers’ second baseman.
Wilson gave the Arabians the lead with a line drive single to straightaway center field, scoring senior Brogan Gary with two outs in the third inning. Wilson’s game-winner in the seventh came on a nearly identical swing and also brought Gary — who had reached after being hit by a pitch on both occasions — across home plate.
Wilson had been hitless in his previous four games, but he came through Tuesday when it mattered.
“Lately, I haven’t been swinging the bat very much,” he said. “Today I really connected. It felt good to get a couple of hits.”