Times Sports Editor
CLAY CITY -- The long bus ride to Clay City proved fruitful for North Daviess on Monday night as the Cougars pounded on the home standing Eels with a 16-2 decision.
The Cougars' starter, Nelson Graber, kept the Eels guessing for most of the night, striking out 11 batters and holding Clay City to just two hits in the five-inning affair.
Clay City coach Vance Edmondson was impressed with the North Daviess southpaw.
"Nelson (Graber) is a good pitcher," Edmondson said. "We were fortunate enough to see a lefty at Northview that first night, but man I'll tell you what, (Graber is) a heck of a pitcher. He threw the ball well and had nice off speed stuff, he kept us off balance all night."
Clay City's pitchers didn't have the same success, struggling with control much of the evening as A.J. Evans, Ben Denker and Tyler Bridgwater combined for 10 walks and hit three batters.
The Cougars put together three runs over the first two innings to grab the advantage, but the real damage was done in the third frame as North Daviess chalked up nine runs.
Graber opened the inning with a walk and clean-up hitter, Clayton Byrer, ripped a double to bring in the first inning. A wildpitch moved Byrer to third before a single by Kendall Witmer brought home the game's fifth run and ended Evans' night on the mound.
Denker was next to the mound for the Eels, but didn't have any more success.
He was able to get the first out on a fielder's choice grounder, but Ethan Dyal reached on a single and Brad Tuell drew a walk. Denker was able to get the second out with a strikeout of Dane Reed. However, leadoff hitter, Tyler Malone walked to bring home Stuffle, Isaac Swartz then hit a two-run single, which opened the floodgates.
Malone scored on a wildpitch, Graber tripled to centerfield to score Swartz, Byrer then doubled to bring home the ninth run of the inning as North Daviess grabbed control, 12-0.
"It was a snowball type of thing tonight," Edmondson said. "Anytime you let a team score 13 runs off eight hits, or whatever it was (actually 16 runs off 11 hits), it's not good. We just have to cut down on our mistakes. When we do make errors or things like that, you have to stay mentally focused and try and come back."
Graber meanwhile kept the Eels off the board until the fourth inning when Evans reached base on a single to rightfield and moved to third on an errant pickoff throw. Bridgewater then reached base on a flyball to rightfield that was misplayed as Evans scored the Eels' first run.
Tanner Persinger reached via walk before a passed ball eventually scored Bridgewater with the Eels' second run of the game. Graber was able to get out of the inning by getting Brylan Jones to ground out.
Afterwards, Edmondson credited some shaky defense and wildness on the mound with putting the Eels behind the eight-ball.
"We wanted to challenge them tonight," Edmondson said. "A couple times we were throwing curve balls and that's when we were hitting guys. We just have to go at them and let our defense make plays and quit giving up free bases. We have to do a better job of knowing what to throw and when to throw it."
The Eels (1-2 overall) travels to White River Valley on Thursday at 5 p.m.
2B -- ND (Byrer, Stuffle), CC (None). 3B -- ND (Graber). SB -- ND (Malone, Graber, Witmer, Tuell), CC (T. Persinger).