Prep Baseball

Blast off: Harbin's first-pitch homer sends QHS to five-inning victory over QND

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 18, 2017 6:50 pm Updated: Mar. 18, 2017 9:05 pm

QUINCY -- Alex Harbin understands why Quincy High School baseball coach Brigham John hits him in the leadoff spot.

"He knows I'm aggressive early in the count," Harbin said. "He knows if the first pitch is there, I'm going to unleash."

He held nothing back on the first pitch he saw Saturday.

Harbin rocketed a fastball from Quincy Notre Dame junior right-hander Jase Wallingford over the left-center field fence, kickstarting a seven-run opening inning and guiding the Blue Devils to a 12-0 five-inning victory at the QHS field.

"It felt so good off the bat," Harbin said.

Harbin's blast came after right-hander Drake Green struck out three of the four batters he faced in the top of the inning, allowing QHS to seize control.

"It was an unbelievable start, an unbelievable inning," John said.

It kept going because of the patience the Blue Devils (2-0) showed.

A flyball after Harbin's blast was the first out of the inning. QHS's Ben Schroeder then worked a four-pitch walk, Dax Flowerree grinded out a five-pitch walk and Derek Green was hit by a pitch. Drake Green helped himself by fighting off an inside fastball and dropping a single into right field to plate two runs.

An error on a pickoff attempt, two more walks, a passed ball and a balk gave the Blue Devils a 7-0 lead without putting another ball in play.

"It all goes back to what we do in practice," said QND coach Ryan Oden, whose pitchers have walked 23 batters in three games. "When we break down into drills, this is why we take it seriously. Not to say they don't, but I reminded them this is why we work at it and not just go through the motions.

"I just want them to compete, and it all starts with pitching."

Meanwhile, Drake Green took advantage of the cushion he was given.

He retired nine of the first 11 hitters he faced, and after giving up back-to-back singles to Tommy Ray and Nick Wellman to lead off the fourth, Green struck out Wade Willer and got Malachi Lentz to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Green stranded another runner in the fifth, allowing three hits while striking out eight and walking one.

"When we put up the seven runs, I knew I just had to go out there and throw strikes and let the defense do the work," Green said. "That's exactly what they did today. They made routine plays and some more."

The Blue Devils made the routine plays at the plate, too.

Wallingford was pulled after throwing 36 pitches in the first inning, but reliever Greg Boots struggled in the second inning. He sandwiched two walks around a hit batter to load the bases with no outs.

A two-run double by Derek Green, an RBI single by Jack Lucey and a throwing error by the Raiders (1-2) allowed the Blue Devils to score four more runs.

QHS had just seven hits against three QND pitchers but took advantage of six walks and two hit batters.

"I'm very proud that our approaches are staying the same and being consistent," John said. "They have a game plan and they're sticking to the game plan. They're taking pitches they don't need to be swinging at. They are waiting for a pitch they can drive."

If that continues, the Blue Devils believe they are primed for success in the Western Big Six Conference.

"Keep striking the ball like we are," Harbin said. "If we keep hitting, the pitchers will provide the defense we need. Our defense is pretty solid behind them. We just have to keep putting the ball in play."

 

QHS 12, QND 0

QND 000 00--0 3 3

QHS 740 1x--11 7 1

Wallingford, Boots (2), Foley (2) and Haley; Dr. Green and Patterson. WP--Dr. Green (1-0). LP--Wallingford (0-1). 2B--QHS 2 (De. Green 2). HR--QHS 1 (Harbin).