By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
It started out looking like it was going to be a runaway for the Pendleton Heights baseball team Monday afternoon at Bill Stoudt Field, but Alexandria had other ideas.
After a nine-run first inning, the Arabians had to battle to hold on for a 15-7 win over the Tigers.
“It’s kind of tough to win when you have a nine-spot in the first inning,” Alexandria coach Jeff Closser said. “We were not going to quit, but you’re probably not going to beat a quality team like Pendleton when you get down nine.”
The Tigers went down in order in the top of the first against Pendleton starter Patrick Swartz. The bottom of the inning was a different story as the Arabians sent 14 batters to the plate, scoring nine runs on six hits, with four walks and one Alex error.
The first three Arabian batters walked as Alex started Isaac Mitchell struggled with control. Thirteen of his first 14 pitches were out of the strike zone. All nine Arabian hitters scored in the inning, which ended with a Kurt Talbert groundout.
Swartz gave up two hits and a walk in the second, but induced Cory Allen into a double play to end the inning.
Alex went down in order in the third, but the game turned in the fourth. Alex sent 11 batters to the plate, scoring six runs on four hits, one walk and one Arabian error.
Quentin Miller relieved Swartz in the fourth after the Tigers had scored four runs without an out recorded.
“Swartz did very well for us tonight,” Pendleton coach Travis Keesling said. “When he gets to the 50-60 pitch mark, he gets tired and we know that. We extended him a little bit. We have five games this week so pitching is a premium.”
Miller was able to get out of the jam, but not before two more runs were charged to Swartz.
Pendleton got a run back in the bottom of the fourth when Augdon Wilson reached on an error and scored on another Alex error. “Defensively, we were awful,” Closser said. “We settled down pitching-wise after the first inning, but the story of this game was defense and we had us for eight errors.”
The Tigers had a chance to get back in the game in the fifth as Miller hit leadoff batter Mason Hoke and Blaize Kelly reached on an error. But Miller was able to pitch his way out of it, sending the next three Tiger batters down in order.
The Tigers had a big chance in the sixth, loading the bases with one out after a hit by pitch and consecutive walks. Hoke struck out looking before Kelly walked to bring in a run and cut the lead to 10-7. Jake Fox grounded out to second to end the threat.
“We did get it back to three a couple of times, but we could not get the big hit when we needed it,” Closser said.
The Arabians pushed five runs across in the bottom of the sixth to put the game out of reach. Keesling was pleased with the hitting, but was not completely happy with the way the Arabians played after the first.
“We knew they (Alex) weren’t done, we tried to get our boys to keep after them,” he said. “We got complacent. Give all the credit in the world to Alexandria. They just kept playing ball, and we didn’t.”
The Arabians (14-5) travel to Yorktown for a key Hoosier Heritage Conference game Wednesday while the Tigers (12-11) host Madison-Grant in a Central Indiana Conference tilt.