Central Hardin, the state high school baseball champion in 2011, showed it may be in for another title run this spring after pouncing on Male 8-2 to win a battle of unbeaten teams Thursday at Derby City Field.
Starter Seth Givan and reliever Luke McCamish, who limited Male to four hits, were supported by an 11-hit offensive attack and an error-free defense as the Bruins (11-0) won the Derby City Classic championship.
Central Hardin is ranked No. 7 and Male No. 10 in the state coaches’ poll.
“They’re a very good team,” Male coach Matt Walker said after his Bulldogs’ fell to 10-1. “They hit to all fields. They hit, hit and hit anything around the plate. They have good team speed, they play good defense and their shortstop (senior and four-year starter Troy Squires) is solid. He made two great plays from deep in the hole” to throw runners out at first base.
Squires, Drew Harrington (the tournament MVP) and Gabe Hogan each had two hits. Squires drove in two runs with singles in the second and fifth innings and leadoff hitter Alex Crowder had a two-run single in the fifth.
“It was a well-played game all the way around,” Central Hardin coach Todd Thompson said. “The two pitchers we used were sophomores. Givan had a few butterflies early, but that was to be expected; this was his first varsity game.”
Givan hit the second and fourth Male batters he faced in the first inning. The Bulldogs’ third hitter, Chris Allen, doubled home Brandon Crabtree for a 1-0 lead, but after that it was all Central Hardin.
With two outs in the first, Central Hardin got consecutive singles by Zack Ditto, Harrington and Troy Biggs to tie it 1-1. Then Male shortstop Spencer Jackson threw wildly past first base on Justin Rouse’s ground ball to allow two runs to score for a 3-1 lead.
Allen also singled home Male’s other run in the fifth. Crowder, the Bruins’ center fielder, robbed Jackson of an extra-base hit by making a diving catch with one out in the seventh inning.
Asked how this team compares to 2011’s, Thompson said, “This team has the potential to be as good or better than that team. … This team is more dynamic. Only time will tell. The season’s still early.”
Squires explained why Central Hardin’s hitters often went after the first pitch:
“Our pitching has been good,” he said. “Usually, when we get good pitching and good defense, we carry that over to the plate. We tried to be aggressive and set on that first pitch.”