By KRIS MILLS – email@example.com
FAIRLAND — Baseball is back.
Several fans with blankets on their laps surrounded the Triton Central baseball field Tuesday for a county contest between TC and Shelbyville on a chilly but sunny day in Fairland. After scoring four runs to start the game, the visiting Golden Bears came through in the clutch with four more runs in the seventh inning to seal a 9-5 win in the season opener for both teams.
Although not the cleanest game for each club, which was expected, SHS and TC battled for seven innings before the Golden Bears were able to pull away just before dark.
Conner Beagle, Cory Taylor and Eadin Balting each knocked RBI singles in the seventh inning for SHS.
“We saw a lot of the stuff we wanted to and saw some different guys on the mound,” said Golden Bears’ head coach Royce Carlton. “During the middle of the game, we weren’t being aggressive enough at the plate. It changed (in the seventh). With losing Damon Lux and Lucas Stieneker, we have to learn (how to score) more by pieces. We are getting close.”
SHS pitcher Jaeden Carter earned the win on the mound in 2.2 innings of work.
Beagle, a senior ace who was 5-1 last season, was productive in his start and at the plate Tuesday, finishing with three base hits and four strikeouts on the mound. He threw 2.2 innings before handing the ball over Benny Thompson, who also finished with four strikeouts.
“(Beagle) threw very well and was very good at the plate,” Carlton said.
Added Beagle: “The ball seemed a lot bigger today.”
Carter, who also had a RBI in the victory, came on after Thompson in the fifth inning and ended the frame with a strikeout. He held TC to one run the rest of the way, including a three-up, three-down seventh inning.
“He is a gamer and one of those high-energy guys,” Carlton said of Carter. “He wants the ball in that situation.
“The guys need to realize our (pitch) locations and how much work we put into it this summer. When we hit our spots, it is effective.”
TC was led by Aaron Steele, the team’s leadoff hitter, who had two hits and one RBI. Conor O’Neil added two RBIs, while Hayden Kermode hit a double. Keaton Kermode, the team’s catcher, threw out a runner attempting to steal second base in the fifth inning.
Keyan McKee earned the loss for the Tigers after two innings of work. H. Kermode started the game and finished with four strikeouts and three walks (three innings pitched) before handing the ball over to Colton Brown. Brown allowed two hits but no runs in two innings on the mound.
TC head coach Justin Bergman knows his team will be just fine. The Tigers have a lineup capable of putting up big numbers on the scoreboard, but the team’s defense will need to tighten up, which should come with more outside action. Triton Central finished with three errors on Tuesday.
“We just struggled playing defense,” Bergman said. “We gave up four runs then settled down. And then fell apart again. But I feel like our guys are there and are going to compete and give us a shot to win every game.”
In the first inning, Shelbyville’s Taylor, who finished with four stolen bases, reached base after leading off the game and stole two bags to score the first run. After three more runs in the first inning, the Golden Bears did not score again until a one-run sixth frame. Grant Martin, who added two hits and two RBIs, was able to score after a balk was called on McKee.
The Tigers, meanwhile, chipped away at the lead with five runs between the second and sixth innings. Silas Ratliff tied the game in the sixth with a RBI single, which scored H. Kermode. However, the team’s offense simply went silent in the seventh.
SHS, which did not commit an error in the win, finished the game with nine hits and left 10 runners on base. TC had five hits and left two runners on base.
“Right now we are trying to get guys in game situations early in the season and figure out a lineup,” Bergman said. “With Hayden and Colton on the mound, we will be fine (early).
“We got late in the count offensively. Some of that is facing live pitching. But I am proud of the guys for competing. We got a couple big hits there and it gave us an opportunity.”
Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.
Shelbyville vs. Triton Central
Final Score: SHS 9, TC 5
WP: Jaeden Carter, SHS
Player of Game: Conner Beagle, SHS (3 base hits, 4 strikeouts on mound)