By Eddie Mowen Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org
May 13, 2014
At the beginning of the season Tri-County North’s baseball team set a few goals.
On the top of that list was winning the Cross County Conference championship and doing it in perfect fashion.
The Panthers can check that off the list after squeaking by Arcanum (2-1) and thrashing Bradford (18-3) last week to finish a perfect 12-0 in the CCC. The Panthers are only the second team in the CCC to complete a 12-0 mark. Arcanum accomplished the feat in 2010. Only 10 teams have completed perfect seasons in the CCC since 1979 and North has now done it twice. The Panthers went 11-0 in 2005.
“I’ve got a great group of kids. They hustle. They’ve worked hard. We’ve had a lot of late practices and they’ve never quit. They kept on putting their best effort forward ,” North coach Larry Gray said.
“To win the league it takes a little bit of luck. You’ve got to have some things go your way and we made the most of it. A good team will make the most of it. “
In the win over Arcanum, on Tuesday, May 6, North scored twice in the bottom of the first inning and made those run stand up.
Kyle Edgin led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a pick-off attempt that went into center field. Austin Elmore then singled to drive home Edgin. After Edgin got picked off first, Austin Hutchins walked and stole second. A single by Jordan Overcash scored Hutchins with what proved to be the game-winning run.
The Trojans scored their lone run in the fifth off Hutching who allowed just four hits and struck out seven.
“This game was a hard fought game by both teams. Both teams always come to play. The history with these teams has always been tough. My team has always played hard to the very end and this was the one of those games. We played very good defensive game,” Gray said.
The win gave North the title.
Two days later the Panthers completed its goal.
A three run first, highlighted by a 2-run homer by Hutchins, gave North the lead for good.
An inning later, Austin Elmore launched a 3-run home run to left centerfield to give North a 7-0 lead and the Panthers appeared headed to an easy win.
But the Railroaders trimmed the lead to 7-3 after four innings and after a scoreless fifth, North put the game out of reach.
The Panthers sent 16 batters to the plate in the sixth and scored 11 runs to break the game wide open.
Pitcher Nick Gray ran his record to 7-0 after coming in to relieve starter Hunter Gleadell, who tossed the first three innings. Edgin went 2-for-3 with a double. Elmore was 4-for-5 with a double, home run and five RBI. Hutchins added a double and home run and collected four RBI.
“We’re not done yet. Hopefully, in the tournament we will continue this. But this is a special group of kids. They support one another,” Gray said. “It’s hard to go undefeated. Only a few teams in CCC history have gone undefeated.”
Gray gives credit to his players for the title.
“This belongs to the kids. At the beginning of the season we had what we called “Mind Games” and we asked them what their goals were and that’s what they wanted. They wanted to go undefeated and win it,” Gray said. “The next step is they want to go to the regionals. One game at a time. We need to stay focused and stick to our goals that the team had set beginning of the season.”
North is scheduled to host either Brookville or Northridge on Wednesday, May 14 in the second round of the Miami East Division III Sectional. The game is set for a 5 p.m. start.