The Hancock County Indians struck the Cloudland Highlanders like Sitting Bull did to General Custer at Little Big Horn on Monday afternoon. Scoring three or more runs in five of the nine total innings played, the Indians (5-8 overall) ran away with 8-0 and 20-2 wins to sweep the twin-bill.
“Right now it’s a matter of us not having confidence,” said Cloudland head coach Kevin Kendall. “I know we have the talent, but we don’t have the confidence it takes to get better. We have to find a way to break the cycle that has us losing. I think they can, but it takes confidence and that builds on itself.”
Despite the run explosion, only two extra base hits were struck — one a three-run home run by Hancock County catcher Jeremiah Seal — the other a two-run double by Indians shortstop Bobby Holt.
“We have been struggling to score runs all season, so this was good to watch these kids get around the bases,” said Hancock County coach Jerry Holt. “I coach third base and that has been a lonely place for a good part of the season.”
Seal started game one on the bump for Hancock County and he held the Highlanders to four hits in a five-inning complete game as he outdueled Cloudland’s Brent Hyden.
Hyden struck out seven and walked two, but was victimized by a big second inning from the Tribe as a one-out walk was followed by four straight hits that led to four runs and a 5-0 Hancock lead.
“Hyden pitched his best game, and had the highest strikeout game of his career,” Kendall said. “We made some errors and that becomes contagious. Winning is contagious, but losing is too and we need to have a short memory when we make a mistake, but right now we don’t. We seem to dwell on it.”
Christian Sloane drew a free pass and was out going to second when a ground ball off the bat of Matt Seals hit him — he was out on runner interference — but the next four hitters each got big rips.
Second baseman Jonathan Perry’s base knock brought home a run, as did a single to right by right fielder Braden Fisher to give Hancock a 3-0 lead. After an infield hit by Branson Holt, Indians third baseman Kwade Alder ripped a two-run single to center to make it a 5-0 contest.
Meanwhile, Seal was going through the Highlander hitters like a warm knife through butter, striking out three of the first six he retired until Jonah Woods reached him for a leadoff single in the third.
Woods was left stranded as Seal struck out the next two Cloudland hitters and retired Reed Jennings on a fly ball to end the frame. Seal finished with six strikeouts and no walks.
“I felt good on the mound,” said Seal. “I had a good fastball working and kept pounding it.”
A pair of ’Lander errors set up another RBI opportunity for Alder and he drilled a single to center to plate two runs. Jordan Seal’s RBI single brought home the final tally of the contest.
Alder finished 2-for-3 with four RBI in game one and had a total of seven in the combined games.
Hancock County…………………………… 20
The ’Landers committed six errors in the second contest and three Cloudland pitchers combined to surrender eight walks and five hit batters as Hancock County won handily.
Jeremiah Seal move to catcher in game two as his twin, Jordan, took the mound. Jeremiah capped an eight-run third frame with a three-run bomb to left field off ’Landers starter Dylan Markland.
“He threw a fastball and I got a good piece of it,” Seal said. “We have been struggling a lot to score runs this season, so this felt good. It just was great for the team to come down here and get a couple of wins.”
The ’Landers had single runs in the first and second innings as the bunt worked to good success. Both Zach Shell and Jennings reached on bunt hits and Curtis Hitechew got aboard on an error by Jordan Seal to bring a run home.
In the second, an error behind the plate by Jeremiah Seal allowed a Cloudland runner to score, but the game was well in hand for Hancock County by that point.
Hancock Co. 140 30 — 8 9 1
Cloudland 000 00 — 0 4 2
Je. Seal and Jo. Seal. Hyden and Harrison. W—Je. Seal. L—Hyden. DP—HC 1. LOB—HC 5, CHS 3.
Hancock Co. 148 7 — 20 10 1
Cloudland 110 0 — 2 3 6
Jo. Seal and Je. Seal. Markland, Woods (3), Harrison (4) and Hyden. W—Jo. Seal. L—Markland. HR— Je. Seal (2). 2B—Holt.