GRIFFITH | The lights are on, and someone’s definitely home.
In the first season of night baseball at Griffith High School, the stadium will host a regional later this season, and its primary resident remains undefeated in night games.
With the season entering its final weeks and re-schedule dates becoming more and more scarce, Griffith showed it can host and play back-to-back games with aplomb.
The Panthers pounded the ball all day and completed a triangular triumph of sorts, capping a three-team doubleheader with an 8-3 win over Times No. 6 Hanover Central on Thursday night to move to 2-0 in home night games.
”It comes down to open dates, and we needed games,” Griffith coach Brian Jennings said. “It just worked out well. Plus, we got nice weather and a nice night under the lights.”
The Wildcats (15-4), making one of their shorter road trips of the season, stayed with the Panthers hit for hit for three innings, but Griffith kept hitting while Hanover didn’t.
“(Jennings) emphasized approaches, playing good defense and not giving up free bases,” Griffith catcher Kyle Buikema said. “It seemed we took advantage of pitches early in the count and jumped on fastballs early.”
Buikema scored three runs with a double, single and two fielder’s choices. The Panthers (9-7) had 11 hits, and Hanover made three errors. A three-run sixth cemented the Griffith win.
“We had some two-out errors, and you can almost guarantee a couple more runs will score when you make errors with two outs,” Hanover coach Doug Nelson said. “This was a good learning game. They’re a solid 3A school.”
After at two-run single by Aaron Furman cut Griffith’s lead to 4-3, Griffith pitcher Amir Wright, a reliever filling in on the mound for late scratch Josh Terzarial, cramped up.
Ryan Nunez, who had pitched the final two innings of the 7-1 afternoon win over Morton, finished the final 4 1/3 innings of the nightcap for the victory. He limited the Wildcats to two hits in that span.
“His off-speed stuff was working pretty well,” Buikema said of Nunez. “He came in, threw strikes, got after batters and gave us a chance.”