The Apollo Eagles came to town Monday night and handed the Cougars an 8-1 thrashing on the Cougars’ Senior Night at Don Lee Field.
Seven senior players, Gage Akridge, Jacob Vincent, Landon Nichols, Parker Cain, Chandler England, Zac Johnson and Josh Meridith, along with media manager Gabby Priddy, said goodbye to the Cougar fans. All the players received personalized wooden bats in recognition of their time with the team.
Once the game started, it was all Apollo right from the start as they scored four times in the first inning off starter and loser Gage Akridge. They added single runs in the second and fourth innings and scored a pair in the sixth.
It was a night when the ball seemed to carry well off the bats as the Eagles hit three home runs, two of them by senior catcher Jacob Shuler. The Cougars’ only run came off a leadoff homer in the first inning by junior shortstop, Hunter Young.
The Cougars (9-17) struggled at the plate against Eagle starter and winner, senior right-hander Austin Johnson, who went the distance to earn the victory. Johnson scattered six Cougar hits, walked one and hit a batter, but struck out 11 Cougars, including the last four hitters he faced.
The Cougars used three pitchers on the evening and they combined to strike out 13 Eagle batters, but got little help from the Cougar offense. Of the eight runs allowed, three of them were unearned.
Akridge started for the Cougars and lasted just two innings, giving up five runs, only two of which were earned. He walked two and struck out four. Riley Mudd relieved in the third inning and went 3 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on three hits. Mudd walked two, hit a batter and struck out eight.
Braxton Hodges took over with two outs in the sixth inning and closed out the game. He allowed no base runners in an inning-and-a-third and struck out one.
The Eagles, (20-11) scored all they would need in the first inning off of Akridge. First-baseman John Robbins led off by hitting a slow roller to Hunter Shiarella at third base. Shiarella bobbled the ball, then his throw to first, which would have been in time for the out, pulled first-baseman Jack Davis off the bag for an error.
Akridge struck out left-fielder Peyton Peters, but Shuler hit the first pitch he saw over the fence in straight-away centerfield for a 2-0 lead.
Akridge gave up a single to Zach Hopewell and walked Zach Greer before striking out Gatlin Humphrey for what should have been the final out of the inning. Shortstop Zach Mooney followed by rifling a double down the line in right that plated both runners to make it 4-0. Mooney reached third on the play at the plate, but Akridge struck out Trevor Payne to end the inning.
Grayson County got one of those runs back in the bottom of the first. Young worked the count to 2-2 before launching one over the fence in right-center for his first home run in a Cougar uniform that made it 4-1.
One-out singles by Jack Davis and Parker Cain put runners at first and second, but Shiarella hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the Cougar threat.
That would be it for the Cougars as Johnson held them in check the rest of the way. Grayson County put runners at second and third with two outs in the third inning, but Johnson struck out Cain to close out the inning. They had a runner at second with two outs in the sixth, but Mudd struck out to end that inning. Johnson then struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to grab the victory.
The Eagles added another run off Akridge in the second inning when center-fielder Brennen Krahwinkel led off with a towering home run over the fence in centerfield. Another Cougar error gave the Eagles a base-runner with one out in the inning, but Akridge got Shuler to fly out to left, then struck out Hopewell to end the inning.
When Akridge walked Greer leading off the third inning. Cougar coach Gavin Logsdon brought Mudd to the hill in relief. Mudd walked the first batter he faced, but then got out of the inning by striking out the next three batters in a row.
Mudd also struck out the side in the fourth inning, but with two outs Shuler touched him up for his second home run of the game to make it 6-1.
Mudd struck out Krahwinkel to start the sixth inning, but walked Robbins, who promptly stole second base. Mudd struck out Peters for the second out of the inning, but gave up a run-scoring single to Shuler. Shuler finished his day with three hits in four at-bats and drove in four runs.
Shuler advanced to second on a wild pitch, then scored when Hopewell lashed a triple down the line in right. Hodges came on in relief at that point and got Greer to ground out to end the inning, but the damage had been done and the Eagles had their 8-1 win.
The Cougars won 6-4 last Friday evening at Butler County to give them the number-one seed for next week’s 12th District Baseball Tournament, which will be held at Butler County. They will close out the regular season with games on Wednesday, at Meade County (26-4), then a home game on Friday against Daviess County (17-12).
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.