CADIZ - What a difference a few days makes.
Two days after dropping a decision to Union Local in Morristown, Harrison Central righted the ship and packaged a complete effort in posting an 8-2 victory Friday afternoon at Mazeroski Field.
First-year Huskies skipper Mike Valesko remarked following Wednesday's loss that his team needed to to be ready from the first pitch. Well, that's exactly what happened when his squad stepped up to the plate for the first time.
HARRISON?CENTRAL’S Dalton Rutter makes a catch of a fly ball during Friday’s game against Union Local. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
After spotting the Jets (2-4) a one-run lead to open the game, Harrison Central peppered UL starter Griffey Girty to the tune of three runs and four hits in the bottom of the frame.
That's all the support Huskies starter Zach Arbogast needed. The sophomore tossed a two-hitter, striking out five and walking two. He retired the final 15 UL batters.
''That's what he's capable of doing,'' an elated Valesko said of Arbogast. ''He threw strikes and got ahead early in the count.
''I think, looking at the stats we counted, he threw 13 first-pitch strikes. When you get on top of a kid like that in high school baseball, you're gonna get a lot of kids out."
By the time Arbogast stepped to the plate in the first, his teammates had already provided him with plenty of support.
With one out, Austyn Porter dropped a single into shallow center. After Dustin Redish was hit by a pitch, Nick Staten singled to left, scoring Porter tying the game, 1-1.
Two batters later, Brennen Graves cleared the bases with a two-out single that shot just left of second base.
''That made things a lot easier for Zach,'' Valesko noted. ''We were already ahead (when he took the mound) in the second and that made him a lot more relaxed.''
And it showed. He only allowed one more hit and two more baserunners the rest of the evening. Aiding in that effort was a defense behind him that made great play after great play. Especially key were his outfielders, who had to contend with a wicked wind that was playing havoc with almost every ball hit in their direction.
After committing four errors against UL on Wednesday, the Huskies committed just one Friday. Valesko credited his players for recognizing work needed to be done in that area.
''We came out here right after school ready to hit and the kids were like 'No, no, let's put the screens and bats away. We're going to field for two hours.' And that's what we did,'' Valesko said.
Defense and pitching were part of the reason the Jets had trouble getting on base, but not the sole reason, according to UL head coach Pec Schmitt.
''No quality at-bats,'' he said. ''Maybe one or two. We have to swing the bats better.
''We had 10 or 11 (Thursday), but the bats didn't come with us (Friday). It's frustrating.
''We have to be more disciplined. I thought e were the first three or four games, but we've lost that. We have to refocus. Next week, we open Monday against Buckeye Local at CONSOL Energy Park. That's the biggest stage we'll play on this year.''
The Jets tacked on a run in the third, but the Huskies (4-3) came right back with a run in their half of the frame and another in the fourth to make the score 5-2.
Harrison Central took command with a three-run sixth, keyed a two-RBI single by Ian Saho. He finished with two singles and two RBI, part of a banner afternoon by the top of the Huskies lineup.
''The top of our lineup is starting to figure it out,'' Valesko said. ''Our bats are getting better every game. I think our top 5 hitters had eight hits and that's big.''
Dalton Rutter, Porter, Staten and Giovanni Rocchi all finished with multiple hits for the Huskies.
Harrison Central also returns to action Monday, at home against Indian Creek.
Harrison Central 8, Union Local 2
Union Local101 000 0 - 2 2 1
Harrison Central301 103 x - 8 12 1
U - Girty lp (1K, 1W), James (5) (1K, 3W), Hearn (6) (2K, 1W) and Stewart. Smolenak D; M.Dunfee S, rbi.
H - Arbogast wp (5K, 2W) and Staten. Rutter 2S; A.Porter 2S; D.Redish rbi; Staten 2S, rbi; I.Saho 2S, rbi; Rocchi D, S.
Thorp can be reached at email@example.com