by Rick Conrad
For the Pharos-Tribune
Lewis Cass senior Connor Adams got the start on the mound for the Mid-Indiana Conference matchup against Hamilton Heights on Saturday.
Adams pitched well enough for the win, but a couple base-running mistakes by the Kings and untimely errors on the defense cost them in a 5-1 loss to the Huskies.
“I was trying to throw strikes and let my defense do the work, and for most part I think I did that,” Adams said. “But we had a couple boo boos and they were able to score. But you know what? I still the have all the trust in the world in my team and I think we can do great things if we just keep our heads together.”
Adams gave up just five hits scattered over the seven-inning game, but the Kings (9-2, 1-1 MIC) committed two critical errors late. Along with the defensive errors, Lewis Cass also had two base-running blunders late that cost them the win.
“I’ve seen [Adams] sharper, but he pitched well enough to win,” Cass coach Greg Marschand said. “If his teammates field the ball and throw them out it’s a different ballgame. He kept us in the game. He mixed his pitches but we didn’t back him with good defense and we darn sure didn’t back him with the bats.”
The Kings lit the scoreboard first early in the first inning. Freshman Ryan Bixler collected his first hit of the game on the Huskies’ Aaron Knott’s first offering. Bixler stole second with Jake Wilburn at the plate and later came around to score when Kyle Dwiggins also hit safely making it 1-0 for the Kings.
Then it became a pitcher’s duel for the next three and a half innings. It was three up three down ball until the Kings came to bat in the bottom of the fifth. Then the miscues started for the home squad.
Blake Cain reached on a base hit followed by Garrett Pullen. With Pullen at the plate Cain attempted to steal second but a late jump caused him to be thrown out easily. Pullen got a base hit to give the Kings another runner but was stranded at second with the Kings still leading 1-0 after five complete.
When Hamilton Heights came to bat in the sixth the wheels started coming off for the Kings. An error for Cass and two hits by the Huskies gave the visitors a 2-1 lead when Jeff Carr and Jake Pickett both scored.
Bixler got the Kings off to a good start in the bottom of the sixth with his second hit of the game but was thrown out trying to steal second. With two outs in the inning Cass got a runner in scoring position when Austin Clem and Dwiggins both reached with base hits. Both were left on base when Ty Stover went down on strikes for the third out.
The Kings looked as if they would have one last chance in the seventh when Adams struck out the first two batters he faced. However, he gave up his first walk of the game and then the Huskies put together back-to-back hits while scoring one to make it 3-1. Next up was the DH, Pickett, who reached on a Kings error allowing two runs to score making it 5-1. Adams coaxed Lukas Sipe into a short to first groundout to retire the Huskies, but the damage had been done.
The Kings tried to get something going with their last at-bat but Knott set them down in order to preserve the conference win for the Huskies.
On the mound the Kings’ Adams finished with seven strikeouts and gave up one walk with five hits. For the Huskies, Knott had four strikeouts with zero walks surrendered.
Hamilton Heights finished with five runs on five hits with no errors while leaving four runners on base. Lewis Cass scored one run with seven hits and two errors while also leaving four on base.
Bixler and Dwiggins led the Kings at the plate with two base hits each.
The Kings and Huskies shared the MIC title with 6-1 league marks last season. Cass defeated Heights last year.
The Kings host defending Class 3A state champ Western on Tuesday. The Panthers are another tough league foe the Kings defeated a year ago.