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Harrison baseball shuts out Lafayette Jeff
April 24, 2014Lafayette Jefferson High School
The secret is out by now.
This isn’t the Harrison you’re used to from recent seasons.
Just in case it was unclear to Lafayette Jeff after the Raiders’ run-rule win Monday night, Harrison came back Tuesday and got a four-hit shutout from junior lefty Matt McConnell in a 6-0 victory at Loeb Stadium.
“After we beat them (Monday), they were really insulted,” McConnell said. “We set the tone that Harrison is back and we’re not a joke team like last year. We are going to compete and we’re going to contend this year.”
The Raiders, who won just three games a year ago, continue to show the rewards of the effort put forth in the offseason.
Tuesday’s victory improved Harrison to 7-5 and 3-1 in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference.
Harrison is now on a three-game winning streak, but the Raiders hope there’s still some conference foes willing to overlook them based on past results.
“We have the mindset like ‘Why not?’ ” McConnell said. “We only won three games last year. Honestly, and I told our pitching coach, I think we can compete for the Hoosier Crossroads title this year. Teams are going to underestimate us. Westfield underestimated us. It’s going to be a race.”
McConnell already has a perfect game and earned a save over then-top-ranked Westfield. Through 211/3 innings, his earned-run average is 1.08.
“We’re always going to get a good performance out of McConnell, and it makes life a lot easier when you can go up there and relax at the plate and have some fun,” said No. 9 hitter Matthew Roop, who had two RBI doubles.
The Bronchos (6-4) still got some good swings off Harrison’s ace but the defense backed him up. McConnell (3-1), who struck out seven and walked one, coaxed nine fly balls or line drives that were snagged by the Raiders.
“It’s going to take two guys in a row to get something done and get the team fired up again and get that confidence we had at the beginning of the season,” Jeff coach Scott McTagertt said. “Right now they’re lacking confidence. There was one inning where we hit three line drives and made three outs. We just feel a little snakebitten.”
The Harrison offense gave McConnell an early lead with two runs in the second. McConnell walked with one out and later scored on Roop’s double down the right-field line that caught the chalk, and Jeep Morehouse scored on a passed ball.
Roop accounted for two of Harrison’s six hits. But the Raiders chipped away and found ways to score runs, a major difference from a season ago, when they’d compete before fading in losses. Now that they’ve shown they can win, it’s a matter of continuing the climb.
“We’re going to try to build on what we’ve done so far and hopefully get up there in the conference and do some damage,” Roop said.
Roop again found no-man’s land on the right side in the seventh with a double that dropped between Jeff’s first and second basemen and right fielder to score Morehouse.
Morehouse scored three runs, including on Nick Torres’ sacrifice fly that was caught in foul territory to begin a three-run sixth. Rhett Baxter later added a two-run single in an inning where each Harrison run was scored by someone who reached via walk or hit batsman.
Jeff starter Ethan Smith hit four batters and walked seven. The Broncho senior was noticeably grimacing in the second inning and struggled with consistency before being pulled in the sixth.