Cougars pounce

May 12, 2019

PLYMOUTH — Stalwart baseball teams take advantage when the opposition makes mistakes.

New Prairie followed that script, capitalizing on three errors in the third inning to build an early cushion, a lead it never relinquished. And its offense had some timely hits and Josh Conley was reliable pitching, lifting the Cougars to an 8-2 victory at Plymouth on a rainy, cold Saturday night.

“It helped us out a lot,” New Prairie’s Jacob Dockery said of the Pilgrims’ errors in the third. “But at the end of the day, we played hard, they played hard.”

The Class 3A No. 7 Cougars (19-4) went ahead 4-0 by pouncing on three errors in the fateful third.

Dockery had an RBI single to right field, making it 1-0. That drove in Wyatt Kmiecik, who reached on first baseman’s Ezra Winkle’s fielding error. Later, Gavin Kelly bunted down the first-base line on a suicide squeeze and was safe at first base, scoring Jarrod Michael from third. Ethan Nielson then drew a bases-loaded walk, and Frank Turley closed the scoring in the inning with a sacrifice fly to right in foul territory. Earlier in the third, Michael sacrifice bunted and catcher Jackson Lee’s errant throw to first put runners on first and third with no outs.

“We were able to create some pressure,” New Prairie coach Mark Schellinger said. “We got a couple bunts down there in the big inning, the third inning. Little things lead to big things. We put some bunts down and they weren’t able to make plays on them.”

The four runs proved enough for the starter Conley, who didn’t face much trouble until the fifth.

The senior right-hander registered the win, giving up only one run on five hits in five-plus innings. Conley (4-1) struck out one and walked three.

“Josh pitched a heck of a game,” Schellinger said. “He was in the zone all night. He was ahead. He kept guys off balance. When you do that, you can have a lot of success.”

Trailing 4-0 in the sixth, Plymouth (13-8) plated a run and had runners on second and third with no outs and the tying run at the plate. It scored on Ezra Winkle’s RBI double to right center. But reliever Dimitri Scofield earned a called strikeout and two pop-ups to quell the threat. He didn’t allow a run or hit in his one inning.

“From the box score, what may go unnoticed is Dimitri Scofield’s outing,” Schellinger said. “He came in in a tough spot in a 4-1 game and struck out a guy with two guys on base. He just threw strikes and got into a rhythm. And to come right back the next inning and to put another four runs on them, that was huge. You can breathe a little bit when it’s 8-1.”

The Cougars extended the margin with four insurance runs in the seventh.

Kelly smacked an RBI double to left, while he later scored from second on a wild pitch. Courtesy runner Noah Brettin then scored from second on Frank Turley’s infield hit and throwing error on shortstop Ivan Winkle. Lukas Fozo followed with an RBI base hit to left to make it a seven-run game.

N.P.’s Roman Kuntz threw the seventh. He surrendered a run on a hit with a pair of strikeouts.

The leadoff man Dockery finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and singled in his first three at-bats.

“I wasn’t doing anything special,” Dockery said. “Just simply going out there knowing there’s a job that needs to be done. Putting my best swing on the ball.”

Kelly went 2-of-4 with a double and a pair of RBI. His suicide-squeeze bunt hit in the third made it 2-0.

“Gavin did a good job,” Schellinger said. “He got it down. If you execute it, you’re going to score. That’s what we tell our guys every time.”

The Pilgrims committed four errors, and the visitors had none.

Plymouth’s Thomas Dolan took the loss, allowing five runs, just one earned, scattering five hits. He fanned four and walked five in six-plus innings.

The whole contest was played in a light to steady rain.

New Prairie 8, Plymouth 2

The Cougars’ Jacob Dockery went 3-for-4 with an RBI.