NICE OPENER: Madison’s Tanner Sauley (above, 9) and Derek Anderson (19) are congratulated by teammates Ethan Leach (6) and John McCarty (15) after scoring during the Cubs’ 5-2 season-opening win over North Harrison on Tuesday. Anderson gets tangled up with the Cougars’ Austin Reynolds (below) during a play at third base. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
NICE OPENER: Madison’s Tanner Sauley (above, 9) and Derek Anderson (19) are congratulated by teammates Ethan Leach (6) and John McCarty (15) after scoring during the Cubs’ 5-2 season-opening win over North Harrison on Tuesday. Anderson gets tangled up with the Cougars’ Austin Reynolds (below) during a play at third base. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Madison's pitchers made up for 11 free passes by striking out 15 Cougar batters to lead the Cubs to a 5-2 season-opening win over North Harrison Tuesday at Gary O'Neal Field.

The Cubs out-hit their potential sectional opponents 8-2 and had seven different players reach base in the win. That offense, coupled with the strong pitching, was enough to lift Madison to victory.

"For the first game, that was a good effort," Madison coach Shannon Barger said. "(North Harrison) is solid, they won 16, 17 games last year, sectional opponent. Anytime you get your first win of the year, you're OK."

Madison starter Clark Vaughn battled control problems in the first inning and North Harrison (0-1) took advantage by scoring its only two runs of the game. Vaughn walked two and hit a batter to load the bases, Alex Flock singled in a run and Micah Napper plated another run with a fielder's choice and the Cougars led 2-0.

Napper, the North Harrison starter, set the Cubs down in order in the bottom of the first but didn't enjoy the same kind of success in the second. Ethan Leach, John McCarty and Sam McIlvain strung together three-straight hits to score a run and Alex Risk tied the game with a sharp single.

Derek Anderson's sacrifice fly plated Tanner Sauley with the go-ahead run in the third and the Cubs added two more runs in the fifth on a Leach sac fly and a McCarty single.

"The bottom of the order, our six, seven, eight, nine guys, did a really good job at the plate and getting on base," Barger said. "When you do that and give those two, three, four hitters a chance it's a good thing."

While Madison's offense was collecting runs, the pitching staff did its part to tap down any Cougar threats. Vaughn opened the second by hitting a batter but then struck out the side. McIlvain pitched the middle three innings and struck out four and walked four to pick up the win.

Leach worked the final two innings and struck out six but walked three to get the save.

"I wouldn't say we settled down; we still had nine walks and two hit batters," Barger said. "But we struck out guys. That's what we told the guys, if you throw strikes, good things happen. We didn't make an error but they didn't put the ball in play and that makes a big difference."

McCarty and Vaughn led Madison's offense with two hits each with Vaughn adding a double.

Austin Reynolds had a hit and stole a base for North Harrison. Napper took the loss after allowing five earned runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and three walks in four-plus innings. Cameron Smith pitched two scoreless innings with a strikeout and a hit.

It was the first time in nearly 20 years that Madison did not open the season with its three-team Triple Crown Classic. The Cubs host East Central on Friday and Class 3A No. 8 West Vigo on Saturday in the Classic.

Barger said that he liked opening the season earlier in the week and that it gave his team a chance to get a quality game in before the always tough Classic.

"This was a good game and it was a good team. Not some team that we would just 10-run and get out in five," Barger said. "We have East Central and West Vigo this weekend then Greensburg next Tuesday. It's a tough stretch but we'll learn a lot."