Harper’s howl: Coyotes slugger blasts two HRs, has eight RBI in win over Reivers
They finally got the show they’d been wanting since Saturday night, and oh, what a show it was.
Bryce Harper finally got some pitches to hit Tuesday night, and after a first-inning strikeout against Iowa Western Community College’s Zach Willand, he teed off, lifting College of Southern Nevada to a 12-7 victory.
“I knew I wasn’t going to let him get me again,” Harper said. “He threw me a cut fastball and got it under my bat a little bit. I said if I see another one I’m going to hit it over those trees (behind the right-field wall) and he threw changeup and I did.”
Harper made the most of being challenged.
“I have the utmost respect for anybody who comes after me. They’re a good hitting team, we’re a good hitting team. We had some key moments and the ball bounced our way.”
Next up for the second-ranked Coyotes is a much-anticipated showdown tonight against top-ranked San Jacinto (Texas) College-North.
Harper hit a pair of home runs, the first to right-center for three runs, and after a two-run double in the fifth, he hit a towering three-run shot over the lights in left field.
He accounted for the first eight Southern Nevada runs and drove in eight of the 12.
“One bad pitch was the changeup that he pulls,” Iowa Western coach Marc Rardin said. “Other than that we stayed in on him. One ball gets away. I guess there’s a reason he is who he is. He creates that interest. We pop him up, he should’ve been out.”
Equally impressive was the relief performance of Kenny McDowall, who spelled Joe Robinson in the third inning.
Robinson had trouble locating his fastball, and the Reivers (47-13) jumped on him for five runs, including Ivan Hartle’s second leadoff home run of the tournament, again on the second pitch he saw.
“The home run was supposed to be a fastball in that he left out over the plate,” Southern Nevada coach Tim Chambers said. “Pretty much everything that was hit hard was supposed to be in and they were left over the plate. He’ll pitch again, but if you can’t locate your fastball you’re in trouble against aluminum bats.”
After Robinson gave up a two-run home run deep into the parking lot behind the right-field wall to Anthony Bemboom and an infield single to Tanner Moore in the third inning, Chambers went to the bullpen.
McDowall went the rest of the way, allowing two runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out the side in the fourth inning and finished with nine Ks.
“He’s got good stuff. He came in throwing 90, 93,” Chambers said. “He had his split finger going tonight, and when he can dump the slider down, he’s tough. He’s got a lively arm.”
McDowall got a double play to get out of the third and sailed from there.
“It was a little scary at first, I was a little nervous warming up thinking, ‘We’ve got to get back in this,’ but it worked out,” McDowall said. “You’ve just got to put up that first zero. That’s all that matters.”
Iowa Western has a rematch this afternoon against Crowder (Mo.) College in an elimination game.
“It’s always tough to play teams a second time, especially when you are on the winning side the first time,” Rardin said. “You get over it real quick and get over the fact you beat a team the first time. We’ll be all right that way.”
Harper got a night off behind the plate, starting in right field. Only one ball was hit his way, but he made his impact at the plate.
His double was a high fly ball after fouling off several pitches, and Moore, the Reivers’ left fielder, lost the ball in the lights. Once he saw it coming down, he couldn’t get to it in time and it fell in, allowing two runs to score.
The next batter, Trent Cook, hit a low line drive that caromed off a diving Kevin Starr at first and bounced to second. With two out, Harper was off on contact and scored on the infield single for a 6-5 lead.
The Coyotes scored five more in the fifth, three on Harper’s towering shot that had young fans clambering down the bleacher steps to retrieve the ball.
“I’ll play anywhere they need me,” Harper said. “I’ll catch, I’ll play short, I’ll play third, I don’t care, as long as I’m in the lineup. I’ll play anywhere. It doesn’t matter, anywhere I can help the team.
“We just want to get that ring, win a national championship and keep having fun.”