Regular Season Finale
Following the tough loss to the Rams of Covenant Christian on Tuesday night, the now 4-2 Cougars sought to bounce back to end the regular season on a high note against a tough 9-8 Notre Dame team that was trying to prepare themselves for the GISA State Playoffs. All things pointed to a great game as Notre Dame was hosting TCS on their senior night. The Cougars were once again short staffed as they were missing four key players while the 14th ranked Irish Wolfhouds came into the game sporting a two game winning streak as well as a squad of over twenty players- majority of which were their seniors. This week’s matchup marked the first meeting between the two teams this season and, as a matter of fact, the first time in a number of years that the schools had faced one another.
The Hits Just Keep On Coming!
On a cool but pleasant evening this week the Cougars of TCS squared off against the Irish Wolfhounds of NDA in a battle of conference leaders to see who would represent their conferences best. Despite coming off of a heartbreaking defeat the night before, as well as being down four players from the start, the Cougars were optimistic about their chances against a foe that they had not seen on the field in years. Leading off the game for the Cougs was Ben Johnson, who coaxed a four pitch walk before immediately stealing second base and showing the heavily favored Wolfhounds that this team meant business! After a passed ball moved Ben up ninety more feet, the red hot bat of Weston Kershner drove him home with a single down the left field line. The next batter to the plate was the former Irishman himself, Caden Henderson. Looking to stick it to his former teammates early, Caden swung at the first pitch he saw and popped out to first in foul territory and was forced to sit down as the inning’s first out. Stepping up to the plate as cleanup hitter was Anthony Kovach who, after a poor baserunning blunder by the third base coach cost the second out of the inning, worked a very nice walk as well as two consecutive steals! Despite a follow up walk to Alex Hogg and a passed ball that left runners on second and third with two outs, the big inning the team was looking for would not yet appear as Jack Kane would be retired via a strikeout to end the TCS threat in the first.
Heading to the bottom of the first, the Cougars would see Ben Johnson take the mound as both Ronnie and Braden found themselves unable to attend the game. Opposite catching Ben was Jack McGrew who had seen some success at the position coming into the game. Through the first few pitches of the inning, it looked as though the Cougar duo would have a solid handle on the Notre Dame offense but a dropped third strike by the catcher, followed by a poor handling of the ball, allowed the leadoff batter to get on first. Trying to steal a play from the Cougar playbook, the NDA baserunner quickly swiped second base on the first attempt before coming around to score when the next batter crushed an RBI double. With the score tied now at one apiece, the Irish Wolfhounds kept their foot on the gas and used poor Ben for batting practice as the next three batters would all record triples. Following the three triples, Ben would also issue a hit batsman and two more singles before finally recording his first out of the inning through a strike out. Suddenly back to the top of the lineup, Ben got the leadoff batter to pop out for the second out and two batters later the side would be retired with a groundout to second. At the end of a first inning that felt like forever, the score now sat at TCS 1, Notre Dame 8.
In the top half of the second, the Cougars were looking at the bottom third of their lineup and facing a steep climb to get out of their seven-run hole. That climb only got more difficult as Bryce Dickerson and Jack McGrew both proceeded to strike out back-to-back. Thankfully, the inning would not go 1-2-3 as a stroke of luck would see Sam Bayer hit a dribbler to the second baseman who mishandled it and allowed Sam to reach first safely. Now back at the top of the lineup for the Cougars, Ben would single before the next two batters would walk not only the bases loaded but a run in as well. Once again, however, the TCS threat would be short-lived as Anthony would swing at a 2-0 count and pop out to the second baseman and end the inning.
In the bottom half of the second inning, due to his high pitch count, Ben gave up the mound to Bryce for his first appearance of the season. Although he pitched well, the strike zone seemed to elude Bryce as the next five batters reached base- four of those from walks. At this point Bryce gave way to Caden Henderson. Unfortunately, Caden could not stop the offensive onslaught by the Irish Wolfhounds. Giving up 5 runs while walking two, hitting two and getting hit by three batters Caden struggled through the adversity well and kept his head up very well despite how the box score read. As the inning finally came to a close, the score was now 19-2 in favor of Notre Dame.
With the odds heavily against the Cougars, being down 17 runs, the team needed to get at least two runs to continue playing and avoid a mercy rule finish. Through the first batter, Alex Hogg, things were not going well as a quick strike out sent him back to the bench for out number one. Then, out of nowhere, the tide seemed to turn for the Cougars as their new patience at the place seemed to begin paying off. Through the way of three hits, two walks, and a defensive miscue the Cougar offense added four more runs before the inning ended. Biggest highlight of the game took place when Ben Johnson channeled his inner Willie Mays Hayes and leapt up and over the Wolfhound catcher in an attempt to score. Although the move was technically illegal and he was called out on the play, it was a highlight that the team will be talking about for years to come!
Fueled by their recent rally, the Purple Pumas headed back out on defense and Caden back to the mound for another inning of work. Working quickly Caden retired the first two batters before giving up a single and an error caused the final run to cross the plate and seal the deal for the Cougars. The final score Notre Dame 20, Cottage 6.
Game Stats Below
|NDA Irish Wolfhouds||8||11||1||X||X||X||X|
|11- Ben Johnson||2||1||2||1||1||1|
|3- Weston Kershner||2||0||2||1||0||0|
|5- Caden Henderson||2||0||0||1||0||0|
|1- Anthony Kovach||1||0||0||1||0||2|
|12- Alex Hogg||1||0||0||1||0||0|
|14- Jack Kane||1||1||0||0||0||0|
|9- Bryce Dickerson||1||0||0||0||0||0|
|0- Jack McGrew||1||1||0||1||0||0|
|6- Sam Bayer||0||2||0||1||0||0|
|7- Hayden Crosbie||1||1||1||0||1||0|
|11- Ben Johnson||1.0||7||8||0||2|
|9- Bryce Dickerson||0.0||1||6||5||0|
|5- Caden Henderson||2.0||4||6||3||0|