SOUTH SIDE NIGHT: Hawks end 17-day, 9-game drought against Trojans

JEWELL – Seventeen days of suffering is finally nothing but a memory.

A distant, distant memory, the South Hamilton baseball team hopes.

Timely hits up and down the lineup and hard-nosed pitching from Hunter Griffin got the Hawks over that invisible hump last night, as they scored early and never trailed in an 8-4 victory over non-conference county rival Northeast Hamilton at the Mike Penning Athletic Complex.

Griffin worked deep into the count on numerous occasions and threw 96 pitches in 5 1/3 innings, but he only allowed four hits en route to the win. He plunked three Trojan batters, but issued just two walks against six strikeouts.

“Hunter was throwing strikes when we needed them and he was getting us out of jams, and then the defense stepped up behind him and made plays,” South Hamilton head coach Bret Bell said after his club snapped a nine-game skid. “It’s finally nice that we can put all three things together and get a win. It would have been really depressing if we hit, we pitched and we played defense and not come away with a win.”

JD Rader took the ball from Griffin with one out in the sixth inning. Trailing 6-0, Northeast Hamilton (3-5) made a valiant last-ditch effort by plating three runs in the sixth and one in the seventh.

Still, NEH head coach Chace Pruismann admitted the initial five innings were frustrating. His club committed six errors on the night that led to four unearned runs for the Hawks (2-10).

“We’re still not 100 percent sure of our starting order night to night, so these guys need to come out and prove who wants to play,” Pruismann said. “We’re not a team that can turn it off until the sixth inning.”

NEH senior southpaw Gabe Rapp eclipsed 100 pitches in a complete-game loss. South Hamilton touched him for 10 hits; he fanned five.

Colton Schwerin blooped a pair of base hits into shallow center field that plated two runs for South Hamilton. Griffin roped a pair of singles and collected two RBIs out of the clean-up spot and Rader was 2-for-4 with one RBI right in front of him.

Colton Griffin had the game’s only extra-base hit – a one-out double to right-center in the first that ignited a three-run burst for the Hawks. He came around from second on an NEH throwing error and Rader trotted home on Hunter Griffin’s RBI liner up the middle.

Schwerien drove in his runs in the third and fifth innings. Griffin brought Rader around to score again in the fifth as well to increase the Hawks’ cushion to 6-0.

Hunter Dilley got the Trojans on the scoreboard with an RBI grounder in the sixth and NEH got two more on a throwing error to make things interesting.

But two additional South Hamilton hits – singles by Dugan Swenson and Rader – in the last half of the sixth led to two more runs to put the game out of reach.

NEH tacked on an unearned run in the seventh.

Austin Smith was 2-for-4 at the top of the NEH lineup. Rapp, Logan Seiser and Tyler Smith all collected one hit.

The Trojans didn’t do themselves any favors through the middle innings. They made the final out at third base in the fourth and fifth innings – a long-standing baseball no-no – and left six men stranded in all.

Kyle Pruismann got caught attempting to steal third with two outs in the fourth frame, and Austin Smith was picked off third an inning later to end a potential scoring opportunity.

Landon Quam and Rylan Harris also delivered base knocks for the Hawks.