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Gophers fall to Harrison after winning HHC

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GOOD HUSTLE: Clinton Prairie third baseman Mason McGraw makes a diving attempt for a foul ball during Wednesday’s game with Harrison, with the ball bouncing from his glove when he landed.
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HHC CHAMPS: Clinton Prairie baseball players posed with a championship trophy after winning at least a share of the Hoosier Heartland Conference on Tuesday with a win at Tri-Central. The Gophers can take the conference outright by winning at Carroll on Tuesday.
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BACK SAFELY: Clinton Prairie’s Ted Hamilton reaches for the bag on a pick-off attempt during Wednesday’s game with Harrison, which the Raiders won 9-3.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

A day after securing a share of the Hoosier Heartland Conference baseball title with a win at Tri-Central, Clinton Prairie fell short against a big-school challenge in visiting Harrison, losing 9-3.

“We had our opportunities there earlier in the game,” Prairie head coach Matt Scott said. “That's what we kind of talked about afterward. I think we left the bases loaded in one inning, a couple of innings we had guys at second and third and couldn't score a run. I know at least one inning we had a guy at second or at third with less than two outs and we couldn't score a run.”

The Gophers led 2-1 after the first inning and kept it tied at two until the Raiders scored twice in the fourth. Prairie answered a Harrison run with one of their own in the fifth and remained in reach until the Raiders scored four in the seventh to get some breathing room.

“That's a big school, that's a 4A school and they've got a lot of athletes to choose from,” Scott said. “For six innings we played very, very well and in the seventh inning things got away from us a little bit.

“Overall, what we played today is going to be better than any practice we would get in. It's always nice to see how our kids compete against a bigger school.”

On Tuesday, the Gophers secured a portion of the conference championship with a 9-4 win at Tri-Central. Afterward, the players and coaches participated in a trophy presentation, as Scott will not attend Tuesday's game at Carroll (with a win guaranteeing an outright title)  as he wants to celebrate a different milestone with his child.

“They presented the trophy to us last night as at least a share (of conference),” Scott noted. “I'm not going to be able to be at the game on Tuesday. My son graduates pre-school and I've kind of got dad duty that night. I'm excited to see him. He's playing a lead in a little play they're doing for us and I'm excited to see that.

“I trust our coaches and players to go over to Carroll and play a good solid game and when we get back if we win that game we'll celebrate as conference champs.”

On paper, Prairie (14-5-1, 6-0 HHC) would be a heavy favorite over the Cougars (6-8, 1-4). Rossville is the only other team that could share the title with the Gophers with a 5-1 record.

In Wednesday's game, things started out promising for Prairie.

Zach Skinner led off the bottom of the first with a single, Kaleb Peters reached on an error and Jacob Peters walked to fill the bases. Courtesy runner Luke Longenecker came in to score on another infield error and, after a strikeout, the Gophers made it 2-1 as Ted Hamilton walked bringing in another run. An infield fly and groundout ended the inning, leaving the bases full.

After scoring a run in the second, Harrison (11-7) made it 4-2 in the fourth with a leadoff double by Seth Waley with a one out single by Dalton Payne along with an error bringing Waley home. Jake Gothrup brought Payne home on a sacrifice. Jacob Kyle, who went 4-4, hit a homer to left that traveled a long way with the wind blowing out in the fifth to make it 5-2.

In the bottom half of the fifth, Hamilton walked with one out and scored after a Bailey Good single to right and a Jared Ray sharp RBI single through the left side of the infield. The Gophers left two runners on in the third and fifth innings and stranded Kaleb Peters at second in the fourth with one out.

“We put the ball in play and we had some opportunities,” Scott said. “We just didn't take advantage of it. I thought Austin threw a really good game for us. When he's on, he's pretty good and today he was on.”

Gibson took the loss pitching five innings and giving up four earned runs (five total) on eight hits with six strikeouts and a walk. Peters relieved and threw a scoreless sixth before Harrison's Grant McCoy reached second on an outfield error to start the seventh and Kyle reached on an infield single that was knocked down by Good at short. Karter Hann singled up the middle to bring in one run, with the next two batters being hit by pitches to bring in another run. A walk and a sacrifice fly brought in the final two runs of the game.

Skinner and Ray led the Gophers at the plate going 2-5 and 2-3 respectively with Ray adding an RBI. Peters, Gibson and Good had the other hits for Prairie, with Mason McGraw and Hamilton notching the other RBIs and Peters, Longenecker and Hamilton scoring Prairie's runs.

The Gophers next host North White for a doubleheader starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

At Jefferson

RAIDERS 9, GOPHERS 3

Harrison`110`210`4`—`9`10`2

Clinton Prairie`200`010`0`—`3`7`2

Harrison`ab`r`h`bi

Totals`29`9`10`8

Clinton Prairie`ab`r`h`bi

Z. Skinner`5`0`2`0

K. Peters`2`1`1`0

J. Perkins`3`0`0`0

M. McGraw`3`0`0`1

A. Gibson`4`0`1`0

B. Erickson`3`1`0`0

T. Hamilton`1`1`0`1

B. Erickson`2`0`0`0

B. Good`4`0`1`0

J. Ray`3`0`2`1

L. Longenecker`1`1`0`0

L. Southern`1`0`0`0

Totals`29`3`7`3

Pitching`ip`h`r`er`bb`so

Harrison

J. Mennen`2.1`3`2`0`4`4

T. Layton`2.1`2`1`1`2`2

E. Hork`1.1`2`0`0`0`1

B. Pennell(W)`1`0`0`0`1`1

Clinton Prairie

J. Perkins(L)`5`8`5`4`6`1

K. Peters`2`2`4`2`2`1