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By: Corey Stott
MEMPHIS, Mo.- 3/22/21- The Scotland County Tigers (1-0) got the season off to a great start with a 9-0 shutout of the Highland Cougars (0-3). Senior infielder Carson Harrison was on the mound for the Tigers and he had a phenomenal outing. He faced 25 Highland batters on his way to an 18-strikeout no-hit complete game. He threw a very efficient 114 pitches over 6 ½ innings.
Coach Rod Sears was very impressed with his senior hurler. “He was phenomenal,” Sears said. “He’s been working his butt off in the off-season. I knew he was gonna be good this year. He came in with a nasty curveball. And then he’s got a nice little fastball to compliment that. I’m so proud of that kid.”
Harrison struck out the first 10 hitters he faced, with Highland not getting a runner on base until Logan Dawson drew a one-out walk on six pitches as the second hitter in the top of the fourth inning. Both teams went scoreless in the first frame, with Brady Curry getting caught trying to steal home in the Tiger half of the inning for the third out.
Harrison helped his own cause by drawing a lead-off walk in the bottom of the second. Peyton Frederick came in to courtesy run for him and advanced to third on an Ian Wilson single and a Preston Sanchez walk. That set the table for Elias Hatfield, who hit a hard grounder to the shortstop. Frederick scored on the fielder’s choice and Hatfield picked up an RBI. The Tigers stranded two in the inning.
After striking out the side, the Tigers came to the plate again in the bottom of the third. Owen Triplett led things off with a single on a hard grounder to first. Triplett advanced to third on a passed ball and a Kaden Anders single to left. Harrison then helped himself again with an RBI sac-fly to deep right field, scoring Triplett. It was 2-0 Tigers after three innings.
Scotland County added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth when there was confusion on an infield-fly rule. Brady Curry popped one up to the first base side. After the rule was called and the out recorded, Wilson tagged up from third. The throw from first baseman Toby O’Brien was in time to get Wilson, but the catcher Dawson touched the plate thinking it was a force rather than tagging the runner. Wilson was safe and the Tigers led 3-0. On the next play, Triplett hit an RBI sac-fly to right field which scored Sanchez, who entertained the crowd with a lively head-first slide into home.
Both teams went scoreless in the fifth inning, and Highland went scoreless in the top of the sixth. Scotland County, however, had an offensive explosion in the home half of the sixth. They put up five runs on three hits and five walks to blow the game open at 9-0. The Cougars had no answers offensively in the top of the seventh, and the Tigers took the season opening victory.
“We came out a little slow to be honest,” Sears noted. “I thought we’d come out a little hotter than we did. But once we got through some pitches and got the jitters out of the way, I thought the guys did great.” He added, “We’re trying to be aggressive on the bases this year. We had some guys run into home that were pretty close plays. They did pretty good today. I’m pretty proud of these guys.”
Sears also said that he loved the chemistry he sees with this team. “The culture’s amazing. You could tell these guys are hungry. They were starving to get out here and prove themselves.”
Harrison picked up the win for the Tigers, while Aidan Lay took the loss for the Cougars. Harrison went two for two with a pair of RBIs and Anders went two of three with an RBI. Hatfield tallied two RBIs, while Triplett and Sanchez had one RBI apiece.