For the Daily Journal
Center Grove pitcher Jacob Johnson went the distance, giving up five hits and striking out four, as the Trojans shut out host Franklin 7-0 on Friday.
The game between the Johnson County rivals had both teams getting far different results from their previous night’s games against conference rivals.
During those Thursday tilts, Center Grove’s hitting abandoned it as it saw a nine-game winning streak get snapped in a 1-0 loss to Ben Davis. Franklin, meanwhile, had played solidly all-around as it beat Whiteland 6-3 in a Mid-State Conference matchup.
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Center Grove and Franklin’s coaches also could be forgiven for not recognizing their teams on the field Friday.
“It was a different team out there (tonight),” said Center Grove coach Keith Hatfield. “Our energy level at the plate was different than the Ben Davis game. “(Thursday) we kind of just waved the bat, but (tonight) we attacked the ball and got some pretty solid hits.”
That was apparent from the start, as Trojan leadoff man Nick Coy doubled to start off Center Grove’s day.
The Trojans sent eight batters up in that first inning, which included three runs on three hits and a pair of walks.
Franklin showed early signs of control problems that plagued the Grizzly Cubs’ pitching staff throughout.
Before the game was over, the Cubs had given up seven walks, hit two batters and threw three wild pitches, one of which led to a run.
And the hitting wasn’t that much better, with only five singles. That’s because Johnson was sharp.
Johnson didn’t give up a walk and only allowed one Cub runner to reach third base. It was the first time all season the Trojans didn’t walk anyone.
Johnson also was aided by two key double plays by Trojan fielders in the fifth and sixth innings that halted potential Franklin scoring threats.
The wind, blowing in, also played a factor. Center Grove catcher Eli Laywer-Smith hit a ball that at first appeared to go out of the park but blew in and to the left of where Franklin left fielder Alex Van Dyke was playing. Van Dyke lost sight of the ball, which hit the left-field wall. By the time Van Dyke got the ball into play, Laywer-Smith was heading for home for an inside-the-park homer in the third inning.
That pretty much summed up Franklin’s game.
Coy and Michael Wyman added two hits each for the Trojans, with Wyman also batting in a pair of runs and Coy scoring twice.
Franklin (10-10) was led by Luke Miles, who had a pair of singles.
Center Grove (14-8) has won 12 of its past 14 games.
“You saw us when we’re on,” Hatfield said. “We did everything well, and Jacob just gave us some good pitching performance. He was in a rhythm.”