The Henry County Wildcats capitalized on errors in a doubleheader with Gallatin County, winning both games Saturday.
The Cats got strong pitching from Seth Williams and Brad West and good defense to work out of a couple of jams on their way to a 7-0 win in the first game.
After a scoreless first inning the Wildcats broke out for four runs in the second inning.
Isaac Steverson led off with a single, reached second on a throwing error, advanced to third and continued home on an error by the third baseman. After a strikeout, Alex Miles singled and advanced on a throwing error. After a Dakota Estes popout, Landon New walked. Dylan Adams followed with an RBI single and then Aaron McClish hit a two-out, two-RBI double, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.
The Cats added a run in the fourth inning when Estes doubled. Estes eventually scored on another Gallatin county throwing error.
The Cats added two more runs in the sixth. After getting out of a jam in the top half of the inning, Gallatin led the inning off with back-to-back singles. Williams got help from third baseman McClish who made a great catch to get the first out of the inning. Williams struck out the final two batters of the inning.
In their half of the sixth, the Cats got an RBI-double from McClish to score Adams and then McClish scored when Stephen Archer hit a ball to second that was misplayed.
McClish had a big game going 3-3 with a walk, three RBIs and one run scored.
Dakota Estes also made a diving catch in the game to keep the visiting Wildcats at bay.
Coach Zak Yates was upbeat about the team’s performance. “Dylan Adams had a big two-out hit in the second inning to get us going,” he said. “Aaron’s catch in foul territory was one of the best I’ve seen at Henry County. Seth and Brad did a good job on the mound.”
HCHS 13, Gallatin County 1
The Wildcats broke open a tie game in the fifth inning with their biggest inning of the year. They pushed across 12 runs in the decisive inning by taking advantage of Gallatin County miscues and timely hitting.
Up to that point, the game was a pitcher’s duel.
Gallatin County scored the first run of the game in the third inning. They led off the inning with a double. After a groundout to the pitcher, the third batter of the inning singled to push across the run.
The Cats tied it in the top of the fourth. McClish led off with a walk and stole second. A throwing error allowed him to reach third and then he came home when James Pollard hit a ball that was misplayed for another Gallatin County error.
Miles allowed a leadoff hit in the bottom of the inning before shutting Gallatin down and the Cats came to bat in the fifth for their big inning.
Gallatin continued to struggle defensively as Estes reached on an error and advanced on a passed ball. New then scored Estes with a single. It would be that kind of inning for Gallatin as Henry would take advantage of walks, passed balls, hit batters and errors to score eleven more runs in the inning.
New, McClish, Pollard and Estes all scored twice in the inning as the Wildcats almost batted around twice.
Miles shut the door on Gallatin in the fifth to end the game on the 10-run rule.
“We are playing very well right now,” Yates said. “We are playing smart. We took advantage of every mistake that they made. Our pitchers pitched great today.
“Aaron McClish and Landon New are carrying us offensively. Dakota Estes is playing well and taking advantage of his new role. Isaac Steverson is hitting the ball well right now and Stephen Archer continues to be a great leader. Alex pitched well today but still hasn’t pitched his best game yet.
“In the second game perseverance paid off. We battled and hung in there and then broke it open in the fifth. I am very pleased with the competitiveness of this group to get the job done.”
South Oldham 11, HCHS 2
The Cats took on the South Oldham Dragons on the road Friday and were done in by a rough fifth inning on their way to a 9-run defeat.
The Wildcats scored first with a run in the top of the second inning. Steverson led off with a walk. After a strikeout, Estes hit into a force play that got Steverson at second base. New and Adams each walked to load the bases. McClish then walked to force in the Cats’ first run.
The Dragons came back with two runs on two hits, a walk and a Wildcats error in the bottom of the inning to go up 2-1.
The Dragons added another run in the third to expand their lead to two runs.
Henry County came back in the fourth to score their second run of the game. West led off with a single. After Estes flew out, New singled to put runners on first and second. Adams followed with an RBI single to make it 3-2.
That set up the fifth inning — a decisive one for the Dragons. They scored five runs in the inning, on four hits and two walks.
They added three more runs in the sixth and the Cats were unable to rally in the top of the seventh.
Yates saw the game as an anomaly in their recent streak. “We just didn’t play very well,” he said. “If you strike out 13 times in a game like we did in this one you are not going to win many games. We had to use the entire staff in this game because of important games coming up over the next week. A couple of walks hurt us but overall they earned most of their runs with 13 hits. They are a solid team.”
HCHS 9 Fairdale 3
The day before, the Cats came away with a 9-3 win at Fairdale. Homeruns from Williams and Pollard contributed to the victory.
Good defense and pitching were also keys to the victory according to Yates. “We used four pitchers and they all pitched great,” he said. “We only had one error all night and we made plays we needed to make. We also turned a couple of double plays that helped us greatly.”
The night did not start well for the Cats — Fairdale got three runs in the first. They led off with a single and with one out, the runner advanced to second on a sacrifice. The runner then stole third and came home on a single. The next batter hit a two-run home run before the final out of the inning was recorded on a groundout to the pitcher.
Henry County got a run back in the second on a solo shot by Williams.
The Cats’ big inning came in the third when they scored five runs. With one out, West reached on an error, and came around to score on another error and a couple of wild pitches. New then walked, advanced to third on an error and scored on a wild pitch.
Adams followed with a walk before McClish singled. That brought Pollard to the plate with two on and one out. Pollard crushed a three-run home run to put the Cats up 6-3.
In the fourth, Henry used ‘small ball’ to add on a couple of runs. Steverson led off with a single. Estes followed with a sacrifice bunt that was good for a base hit. West laid down another good bunt that went for an error, allowing Steverson to score. New followed with a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Estes.
“Those were great sacrifice bunts,” Yates said. “We need to continue to execute like that.”
The Cats added a final run in the seventh without the benefit of a hit. McClish drew a walk, advanced to second on a throwing error by the pitcher and then stole third base. The catcher’s throw to third was wild and McClish scored.
“We have played well in our last two completed games,” Yates said. “We need to continue to play a clean game and execute offensively. I am happy with the progress we have shown recently but we can’t be satisfied. There is still a lot of room for improvement.”