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BASEBALL: Hawks fall to Bruins

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Landmark News Service

The Central Hardin Bruins started fast Monday evening, while the LaRue County Hawks never got going.

The Bruins scored five runs the first three innings, which was more than enough for the Central Hardin trio of senior Seth Givan, sophomore Blake Wheeler and freshman Brendan Grider, who shut down the Hawks for a 5-0 victory at Central Park.

Central Hardin is off to a 3-0 start after finishing last season with back-to-back losses in the 17th District Tournament final and 5th Region Tournament quarterfinal.

“Coming off of last season, we have a different mindset,” Central Hardin junior catcher Ben Heideman said. “It’s really important for momentum. Our mindset has changed. We’re more focused. We know what we want to do and that’s our mindset right now.”

Getting the lead-off hitter on in each of the first three innings sparked the Central Hardin offense, which has scored five or more runs in each game. The Bruins did it in a various fashions starting off the first with a double and the third with a single, while an error began the second.

“It’s all about momentum,” said Central Hardin junior shortstop Justin Rouse, who went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI. “It’s about getting good at-bats and we did that early in the game. That gets the dugout into the game and it boosts the energy level of the whole team.”

On the flip side, the fifth inning was the lone time the Hawks were able to get their lead-off hitter on when freshman Dane Milby was hit by a pitch. They ended up stranding Milby at third along with junior Chandler Lynn at second. LaRue County left eight on base, including five in scoring position.

“We have to have guys step up, no matter if there are no outs or if there are two outs,” LaRue County coach Eric Allen said. “It comes down to leadership and we need guys to step up and drive the ball. We hit a lot of ground balls. They kept the ball down and threw a lot strikes.”

Allen was more bothered by his team’s lack of focus in the first couple of innings. The Hawks made three errors, leading to a 3-0 hole, which they never were able to dig out of.

“I don’t feel like we were ready to go when we got off the bus,” Allen said. “We did a little work before we came over. We hit and we fielded some grounders. But we came out flat. We didn’t play defense and we walked a few. Central’s not going to let you get away with making errors.”

The Bruins made sure LaRue County paid for its miscues. Rouse led off the first with a double to left-center field and scored when sophomore Brandt Pawley’s sacrifice bunt was thrown into right field. Pawley moved to third on junior Alex Bibb’s grounder and came home on a wild pitch to give Central Hardin a 2-0 lead.

Heideman reached on an error in left field to start the second, and then senior Shad Ray got on when the Hawks made another error. After sophomore Logan Compton moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt, Rouse lifted a sacrifice fly to right to bring home Heideman for a 3-0 lead.

In the third, senior Britton Elmore, who went 2-for-3, singled to right, Bibb was hit by a pitch and junior Ean Barker walked to load the bases. After an out, Heideman delivered a two-run single to stretch the lead to 5-0.

“When I was on deck, I knew it was a good situation for us to get some runs,” Heideman said. “The first pitch was a fastball that I missed and then he threw me a curveball over the plate and I put it the other way like you’re supposed to.”

Givan, Wheeler and Grider did the rest. Givan limited the Hawks to three hits in four innings before getting in a jam in the fifth when he hit Milby and walked Lynn. Wheeler came in to end the threat, getting a grounder to Compton at third and then a strikeout. Grider worked the final two innings, allowing only an infield single and a walk.

The trio only had three strikeouts, but Central Hardin played nearly flawless behind them with one error. Rouse was rock solid, making six plays.

“I was really pleased with our pitchers,” Central Hardin coach Todd Thompson said. “They threw a lot of strikes. We only had two walks and one hit batter. Three free bags in high school baseball is not too bad. I think we had 11 ground-ball outs and six fly-ball outs. That’s great (defense).”

CENTRAL HARDIN 5, LARUE COUNTY 0

R H E

LaRue County 000 000 0 0 4 3

Central Hardin 212 000 x 5 5 1

Chandler Lynn, Ty Morris (3) and Koy Lindsey. Seth Givan, Blake Wheeler (5), Brendan Grider (6) and Ben Heideman. WP: Givan (2-0). LP: Lynn (0-1). 2B: Justin Rouse (CH).