With seven shutout innings on the mound and two RBIs at the plate, Drake Harper gave his team its best chance to win.
Harper commanded all of his pitches, striking out eight Dickson batters as Plainview won 4-0 at home on Monday. The Class 4A No. 10 Indians improved to 4-2.
“Drake Harper, he only gave up two hits. That was the deciding factor in the ball game,” Plainview coach Brent Hackney said. “Drake was throwing really well — with exception of a couple of guys — getting ahead (in the count). I think he maybe walked one, but other than that, his stuff was real good. He had pretty good command of all of his pitches today: the change-up, curveball and fastball.
“(Our) defense, for the most part, was pretty good. That’s what I was pleased with.”
Nonetheless, this was more of a pitchers’ duel than the score would indicate. Dickson (1-5) coach Trent Patterson said that Chandler Smith, his starting pitcher, was up in the zone with his fastball in the first inning. Plainview hitters capitalized. Harper, the cleanup hitter, drove home what proved to be the game-winning run in the bottom of the inning.
Plainview’s Jordan Ricketts and Gage Kennedy reached with a hit and via an error, respectively, to load the bases, but Smith escaped by striking out the Indians’ designated hitter, Tyler Lindsay.
Dickson lost its best chance to tie the game in the top of the third, when Ricketts caught Dickson’s Miko Blancett attempting to steal third.
“He read it pretty well, the pitch before,” Patterson said. “He was halfway there (to the base) before the pitch was ever thrown. If he kept his momentum going, he could’ve stolen third base pretty easily because he’s one of our faster runners. I kind of hollered at him, ‘Hey, if you get that big of a lead, then go ahead and take the bag.’ He translated that into a steal. It was a little bit more difficult because he didn’t get as good of a jump and we have a left-handed hitter up and the catcher has a clear path to throw him out at third.
“That was kind of a big shift for us,” Patterson continued. “If he didn’t get thrown out, the next pitch was a dirtball, so we would’ve been second and third with one out instead of a runner on second and two outs. A ball in play scores them. That’s part of it. We’re young as far as baseball knowledge (goes). We’re learning as we go and taking baby steps.”
Hackney downplayed the impact of Ricketts’s play, instead citing Harper’s pitching performance.
Dickson had a solid pitcher throw, too.
“Whenever Chandler’s on the bump, we got a chance to compete with anybody in the state as far as our class is concerned,” Patterson said. “We’re pretty whenever Chandler’s on there. We’ve got confidence in others, but Chandler’s one of the better arms that we have, not only on our team, but just around this region as well.”
Disappointed with the result, Patterson said Plainview is the program he wants his team to emulate.
“As a coach, I’m pretty pleased with a 4-0 show with one of the top programs in the state as far as our class in concerned,” Patterson said. “That’s where we’re trying to get, to be as traditionally good as they are.”
Hackney said the Indians are not a finished product.
“We’ve got a few guys that are seeing the ball well and hitting good, but we’ve got to fill in some holes in that lineup, but we’ll get there,” Hackney said. “Right now, I’m satisfied with the win, but offensively, we’re not there yet. Defensively, we’re getting there. The pitching has been good for the most part in all the games, but we’re just not swinging it real well right now. That’s something that we’ve got to work on.”