GREENSBURG — The Mid-Hoosier Conference baseball race took an interesting twist Thursday when the top two teams flip-flopped host responsibilities in their back-to-back games.
Because of a wet field at South Decatur, the Cougars played at Hauser on Thursday. The Class A No. 5 Jets took advantage of three South Decatur errors on the field and two on the basepaths to post a 5-2 win and remain unbeaten in the MHC.
“It all starts with our pitching,” Hauser coach Nate Long said. “When our pitching is over the plate, and they keep us in ballgames, and we make the routine plays, we’re going to be in each game and give ourselves a chance to win.”
Sam Meek threw a seven-hitter for the Jets (13-5, 9-0). He struck out nine, walked only one and allowed just one earned run.
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Hauser got on the board in the first inning when Cameron Hartog singled with two out, went to second on an error and Sean Miller’s popup behind third base fell for an hit.
The Cougars (8-9, 5-2) answered in the second when Devon Martin singled, stole second, went to third on a groundout and scored on a double by Kyle Johannigman. They took the lead in the fourth when Hunter Seegers and Martin singled, Luke Eder reached on a fielder’s choice and Seegers scored on an errant throw to first to try to get the double play.
Hauser seized control in the bottom of the fourth. Hartog led off with a single, went to second on a wild pitch and took third when Miller reached safely while trying to sacrifice. Evan Shaw then singled to score one run, and another scored when a popup by Parker Eickbush fell for a hit. Meek then reached on an error, allowing a third run to score.
“That’s frustrating because they’re hits in the scorebook, but they’re really not hits as far as we’re concerned,” South Decatur coach Kyle Degler said of the missed popups. “That’s surprising for us, but sometimes, you hit it in the right place, and it’s hard for guys to make a play on it.”
The Jets added an insurance run in the fifth. With two out, Hartog doubled to right and scored on a double to center by Miller.
“I thought we ran the bases hard today, and when we do that, we put pressure on them to make a perfect throw, and we were able to beat a couple of the throws home,” Long said.
Meek used a little help from his defense. Although Hauser committed two errors, it did come up with a couple of gems.
One of those big defensive plays came when Hartog made a diving catch in center to rob Seegers of extra bases leading off the sixth.
“We had great defense back there,” Meek said. “The center fielder made a heck of a catch to kind of keep the momentum on our side, and we were just able to make the plays.”
Hartog finished 3 for 3 at the plate. Miller went 2 for 2.
Hauser matched the Cougars with seven hits.
“I feel like we came out and hit the ball fairly decent,” Hartog said. “I feel like we’re definitely boosted going into (today).”
Martin went 2 for 2 for South Decatur. Degler praised the middle of the Cougars’ lineup, which has hit the ball well of late.
The Jets now have a two-game lead over South Decatur and North Decatur in the loss column in the MHC. Hauser can clinch at least a share of the title with a win today at South Decatur or Monday or Tuesday against Morristown.
The Jets and Cougars could meet a third time in the Madison Shawe Sectional final on May 29.
“Mathematically, we still have a chance (in the MHC),” Degler said. “We’re going to play them again (today), and we’re going to see them again in the sectional, and we really feel confident that this is a team we can beat. If we don’t make any errors, we beat these guys, I think.”