Vikings finally play at home, beat Owen Valley 7-0

Apr. 17—As coach Culley DeGroote said afterward, "The fourth time was the charm" Wednesday evening as West Vigo finally played its high school baseball home opener following three rainouts.

And the Vikings were able to display some of the new accoutrements at Dick Ballinger Field in quick and efficient fashion in downing visiting Owen Valley 7-0 in Western Indiana Conference play.

Efficient? West Vigo earned just 10 baserunners — five hits, four walks and a hit batter — in scoring its seven runs.

That was more than enough for pitcher Hunter Cottrell, who tossed a two-hit shutout and was primarily responsible for how quickly (an hour and 45 minutes) the game was decided.

"The seniors have been clutch this week," DeGroote said.

He noted that Jacob Likens also had pitched a complete-game win at North Putnam on Tuesday.

"Pounding the [strike] zone and changing speeds," DeGroote added. "This was a big-time outing by Hunter Cottrell."

Cottrell gave up a hit to the first batter he faced Wednesday but nothing else in the top of the first, and the Vikings got a run without a hit in the bottom of the inning. Brandon Dailey wwlked and courtesy runner Chad Michael — one of the most valuable Vikings on Wednesday, even though he doesn't appear in the boxscore — took second on Cottrell's bunt, third on a passed ball and scored on Gabe Skelton's grounder.

West Vigo made it 2-0 in the bottom of the third, again without a hit. Jayce Noblitt walked and was forced at second by Dailey. That brought Michael back in the game, and he stole second, took third on a grounder and scored on an error.

Cottrell's only hiccup came in the top of the fourth, when he threw eight straight balls to put runners at first and second with nobody out. But a strikeout, a popup and a line-drive out got him quickly out of what proved to be the last jam he had to face.

Owen Valley's tough-luck lefthander Rhatt Manuel retired the first two batters in the bottom of the fifth and at that point had allowed just one harmless hit and no earned runs. But then he walked Dailey, Michael stole another base, and singles by Cottrell and Skelton (and a steal by the other courtesy runner, Jacob Handlin) made it a 4-0 game.

"Their lefthander threw well," DeGroote said later. "It was hard to play today with the wind howling in [from left field]. But we figured it out after a while."

The Vikings padded the lead in the bottom of the sixth on Likens' second hit of the day, a wind-blown popup single by pinch-hitter Trentin Chambers and a hit batter, two sacrifice flies and a mental error on the part of the Patriots. So their record improved to 5-5, they remained unbeaten in conference play and they seem to have the run-prevention part of the game in good shape — even if their next two games are also on the road, making it 10 of 11 games to start the season away from Ballinger Field.

"We're still trying to find stuff," the coach said, "but it feels like we're getting closer ... and it was nice to be home."

OWEN VALLEY (AB-R-H-RBI) — Dean ss 3-0-1-0, Manuel p-cf 2-0-0-0, Heckman 1b 2-0-1-0, Ammerman 3b-c 3-0-0-0, Douglas c 2-0-0-0, Bell rf 1-0-0-0, Ross lf-p 3-0-0-0, Robinson 2b 3-0-0-0, Christy rf-3b 2-0-0-0, McIntosh dh 2-0-0-0, Heidrick cf-lf 0-0-0-0. Totals 23-0-2-0.

WEST VIGO (AB-R-H-RBI) — Dailey c 1-3-0-1, Cottrell p 2-1-1-1, Skelton 1b 4-0-1-2, Wallace pr 0-0-0-0, Gr.Porter cf 3-0-0-0, Likens rf 3-0-2-0, Guinn pr 0-1-0-0, Ga.Porter 2b 2-0-0-0, Chambers ph 1-0-1-0, Hann pr 0-1-0-0, Hedden 3b 2-1-0-0, Deighton dh 2-0-0-1, Cobb lf 0-0-0-0, Noblitt ss 2-0-0-0. Totals 22-7-5-6.

Owen Valley 000 000 0 — 0

West Vigo 101 023 x — 7

E — Ammerman. LOB — OV 4, WV 5. SB — Michael (WV courtesy runner) 2, Handlin (WV courtesy runner). SH — Cottrell. SF — Deighton, Dailey.

Owen Valley IP H R ER BB SO

Manuel (L) 4.2 3 4 2 3 7

Ross 1.1 2 3 3 1 0

West Vigo IP H R ER BB SO

Cottrell (W) 7 2 0 0 2 10

HBP — by Ross (Hedden). WP — Manuel. PB — Douglas. T — 1:45.

Next — West Vigo (5-5, 3-0 WIC) plays Thursday at Bloomington South. Owen Valley is 2-3 and 0-2.