Johnston City stranded eight runners in scoring position as Harrisburg did just enough to win its sixth game in as many tries with a 4-3 win over the Indians Thursday afternoon.
Junior southpaw Blake Buchanan pitched three-plus innings in relief of starter Justin Younger and sophomore Matthew Phipps earned the save for HHS.
The Indians tried to mount a rally in their last at-bat when Phipps got a groundout of left fielder Alan Montgomery to end the day with the go-ahead runs on base.
“We didn’t have our best pitching today,” Harrisburg coach Jay Thompson said. “Justin (Younger) scuffled, but he kept us close. Buchanan came in and was huge. He gave us about four strong innings, and Phipps came in and threw strikes at the end.”
Harrisburg (6-0) saw itself trailing 2-1 heading into the bottom of the third inning when first baseman Cooper Thompson doubled in two runs to give his club its first lead of the day.
Two batters later, catcher Brady Mayer singled up the middle with two outs to push the Harrisburg lead to 4-2.
Johnston City (7-2-1) didn’t have trouble getting runners on, but pushing them across was another story.
The Indians ended the third and sixth innings with multiple runners in scoring position.
Junior lefty Hunter Zeigler went the distance for Johnston City and struck out four. Zeigler had two hits and drove in a run at the plate.
Southern Illinois signee Austin McPheron went 1-for-3 for the Indians and flew out to deep right field to lead off the top of the seventh.
“We had two or three play of the day plays today,” Thompson said. “Younger makes a couple of Willie Mays catches out there and Sykes (Thompson) caught a tough ball up against the fence. That’s what we’re getting right now. I still say we’re going to hit. It’s going to take us a couple of weeks, but we’re going to hit fine. What I like is we are playing good defense and throwing strikes.”
Harrisburg is slated to play at 11 Friday morning at Rent One Park against Vernon Hills and will then welcome Pleasant Plains out of the Springfield area to Dorris Heights around 11 Saturday morning.