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Logan Darnell/Coal Valley News Aaron Epling bats for Scott during a game earlier this season.

WHARTON - In the midst of a defining season, the Scott High baseball team (11-1) traveled to Wharton to take on Van Junior-Senior High (0-7) on April 3 for the second time. The last time the two schools met, Peyton Brown pitched a no-hitter for a 14-0 win over the Bulldogs. In this game, senior Nathan Kuhn started for the Hawks, while senior Caleb Price started for Van.

A flyout and groundout after seven pitches gave Van a spark of early confidence, sitting junior Aaron Epling and senior Isaac Miller. Nathan Kuhn responded with a triple on a line drive to center field. However, a ball popped up by senior Carter Lyles and caught by sophomore catcher Kalen Booth denied Kuhn the chance for an early run.

Now taking the mound, Kuhn struck out senior center fielder Jacob Smith in six pitches, but a single by Caleb Price awarded Van their first hit. A ground-ball double by Kalen Booth advanced Price to third. After the two runners in scoring position were held up following a ground out by sophomore Preston Adams, senior left fielder Jarod Puckett singled to bring both teammates home. Van took an early lead over Scott, 2-0, and junior shortstop Jacob Jarrell was struck out by Kuhn to end the inning.

An error by Jarrell at the top of the second inning let senior Peyton Brown reach first. Junior Dakota Bowman flew out to center field, keeping the runner at first. Brown advanced to second on a wild pitch before sophomore Trenton Short walked and was pinched for sophomore Jeffrey McCoy. Senior Hunter Eplin then singled on a ground ball to center field and brought Peyton Brown home for Scott's first run. Later, with two outs, Aaron Epling was walked to load the bases. Price threw four balls in a row to walk Isaac Miller and move McCoy to home. After a flyout from Nathan Kuhn, the top of the second inning ended with a score tied 2-2.

Van first baseman Dakota Phillips started out on base in the bottom of the second after being hit by a pitch, but three consecutive outs stranded the senior at first. The third inning opened with a pop out by Lyles to Dakota Phillips. Peyton Brown hit a groundball and reached on an error. Dakota Bowman doubled on a line drive to left field, putting himself and Brown in scoring positions. Short batted next, reaching on an error and helping Brown score his second run of the game. Short was pinched once again for McCoy, who promptly stole second. Eplin hit an RBI single to keep the line moving. Bowman's run brought the score to 4-2. After advances to second by Eplin and home by McCoy following an error, freshman Dylan Grant doubled for Eplin to score Scott's sixth run.

With the score at 6-2, Aaron Epling hit an inside-the-park home run for another two. A triple by Miller quickly turned into a score on an error, while Nathan Kuhn singled on a ground ball to second base. Kuhn stole second base during Lyles's second at-bat of the inning, and was batted in on Lyles' double, 10-2. Peyton Brown walked for another base hit, and a sacrifice fly by Bowman gave Lyles the opening to score, 11-2. At last, a flyout to Puckett from Short gave Van the much-desired third out and retired the side. Three outs recorded in order ended inning three and brought Scott back to the plate.

Freshman Brayden Roe relieved Price at the mound and subsequently walked Eplin. Respective flyouts and lineouts from Grant and Epling kept Eplin at first for the time being, but an error helped Miller reach first and advanced Eplin to third. Kuhn batted once more, and Miller recorded another steal to reach second base. Kuhn hit a ground ball to second, but an error allowed him to reach and bring in both Eplin and Miller. An error brought Kuhn to second, but Lyles popped out to right field for the third out. Another three outs ended the fourth inning 13-2. A single from Brown and two walks for Bowman and Eplin created another bases-loaded situation for Van to handle. Junior Trey Johnson grounded out for the second out of the inning, but Peyton Brown scored another run to raise the Skyhawks to a 14-2 lead. Freshman Cooper Martin was hit by a pitch, and a single from another freshman, Brandon Bowling, sent Bowman and Eplin home for a 16-2 ballgame. Freshman Brady Carrico grounded out to retire the side.

Aaron Epling closed the game pitching for Scott. Martin doubled for one last Van base hit. Roe struck out looking to keep him there. Martin advanced to third on a groundout by Smith, and a final groundout by Caleb Price ended the game for another Scott victory.

With 11 hits, 16 runs, and no errors, Scott demonstrated their ability to command a game once again. Nathan Kuhn went 2-for-4 and Hunter Eplin went 2-for-2 to lead the Skyhawks in hits. Kuhn allowed three hits and two runs, but struck out five in four innings pitched to show his mettle on the mound. Epling, Bowling, and Eplin each recorded two RBI to lead Scott, while Puckett was responsible for two RBI on the Bulldogs' side.

The Bulldogs (0-9) visit Lincoln County High School (5-5) at 6 p.m. on April 10. The Skyhawks (12-1) travel to Herbert Hoover (3-10) the same night to play the Huskies at 7 p.m.

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