Big picture: Kouts baseball coach Jim Tucker considered pulling his freshman pitcher after the fifth inning, but Owen Winters talked his way back to the mound. The same scenario played out after the sixth inning.
“He kept saying, ‘No.’ He kept saying, ‘No,’” Tucker said. “He was giving me a heart attack in the dugout.”
Winters finished the game, throwing 114 pitches and giving Tucker his first win over Morgan Twp. by a score of 6-2 Monday in Kouts. Tucker’s in his third season at the helm for the Mustangs.
“I just told him that I was good. I just wanted to keep going because I was having a good day,” Winters said. “I just wanted this game.”
Winters threw seven innings, allowing four hits and walking four while striking out 11.
He also had a double and scored two runs. Sophomore Cole Deardorff hit a home run in the seventh inning. Kouts scored two runs in the first, another in the third, two more in the fourth and Deardorff’s round tripper in the seventh inning.
“We’ve got to get started somewhere. This is a good place to get started (in the Porter County Conference),” Winters said.
Morgan scored in the second and fifth innings.
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The game was scheduled to be part of the RailCats Challenge, but the game was moved from the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary to Kouts High School after Sunday's snow storm.
Turning point: Senior outfielder Ian Garavalia got just enough of a pitch in the fourth inning to deposit it into short center field and drive in two runs. The hit expanded the Kouts lead to 5-1.
Kouts player of the game: Deardorff - He had four hits in four at-bats, including a double and a home run.
Morgan Twp. player of the game: Senior pitcher Hunter Swivel - He threw all seven innings, striking out 12.
Quote: “We’ve been the runts of the conference but now we’re old,” Tucker said. “We think we’ve got the pieces, now, to be competitive.”
Beyond the box score: The Mustangs came into the game at 1-5 after an early schedule that included Kankakee Valley, two games against Victory Christian and a game against Boone Grove, the defending Class 2A state champions.
“Playing good teams early definitely helps us during sectional time,” Tucker said. “I’d rather get thumped early and have that time to grow.”
Up next: South Bend Academy at Kouts (2-5, 1-1 PCC), 4:30 p.m. Thursday; Morgan Twp. (4-4, 0-1) at South Central, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.