Bulldogs extend winning streak to 10

A light week got even lighter when the first of two games the Harrisburg baseball team had scheduled was rained out on Monday, but Friday the Bulldogs finally hit the diamond and tossed a combined one-hitter to beat Pinckneyville, 11-0, in five innings for their 10th straight win heading into the final week of the regular season.

“We hit up and down the lineup against Pinckneyville,” said Harrisburg coach Jay Thompson. “The opponents for the last week of the season is all by design. We try to play the best teams we can the last week, so we can get ready for the tournament.”

Harrisburg improved to 24-5 and has five games scheduled this week beginning Monday with a road game at Anna-Jonesboro (13-14-1). On Wednesday Mt. Carmel (13-9) invades The Jay for the last home game of the regular season. The Bulldogs have a 15-1 record at home.

This week ends on the road at Goreville (17-8) Thursday and Saturday at Tolono for games against Normal University (21-6) and Tolono Unity (17-7). Harrisburg hosts the 2A Regionals beginning May 13 with the two quarterfinal games played at the higher seed sites before No. 1 seed Harrisburg opens in the semifinals at The Jay May 15.

The ace of the staff, Noah Arnold (8-1) started on the mound and held the Panthers hitless for the first three innings on 30 pitches with five strikeouts, two fly outs and two ground outs.

Owen Rann pitched the fourth inning and kept the no-hitter going, setting down the three batters he faced on 18 pitches with two strikeouts and one fly ball.

Ethan Golish pitched the fifth and lost the no-hit bid on a leadoff single up the middle. The right-hander kept that runner at first retiring the next three batters on 12 pitches on two pop flies and a swinging strike three.

“Since we didn’t play any other games last week I wanted to use several guys,” Thompson said. “The plan was to actually pitch four guys, but I didn’t anticipate it to be a five inning game because Pinckneyville is pretty good despite its record. Our pitching was lights out.”

After stranding two runners in the first and a runner in the second, the Bulldogs sent seven batters to the plate in the third to take a 3-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Dawson Griffith, a single by Reed Rider and a balk.

Harrisburg batted around in the fourth, sending 13 batters to the plate to up its lead to 10-0. Rider got it started, drawing a one-out walk with the bases loaded to force in the first run. Five pitches later, Golish hit a 3-1 pitch over the left field fence for his team-leading sixth home run and the team’s first grand slam of the season.

A walk to Griffith, a single by Rider and a walk to Brendan Bergan reloaded the bases before Arnold sent Rider and pinch runner Briar Butler home with a line drive single to left.

The Bulldogs upped their lead to 11-0 in the top of the fifth on a wild pitch following a one-out single by pinch-hitter Rylan Palmer and a two-out single by Rider.

Rider led the 11-hit attack going 3-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored. Golish went 2-for-4 to up his team-leading batting average to .414 and the four RBIs upped his team-leading total to 29.