Baseball: Chesterton holds off CP for first-place tie in DAC
By Michael Osipoff 713-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org, @MichaelOsipoff April 30, 2013 9:22PM
Updated: May 7, 2013 12:32AM
CHESTERTON — The Chesterton baseball team batted around in the first inning to grab the lead against Crown Point.
The Trojans batted around again in the sixth to grab it for good — and to grab a share of first place in the Duneland Conference.
Those two outbursts on Tuesday propelled them to a 10-8 win against the Bulldogs, who suffered their first conference loss. Chesterton (11-4, 6-1) led 5-0, before Crown Point (10-3, 6-1) — mostly behind three home runs on a windy day — came back to tie the score at 6-6; the Trojans then led 10-6, before the Bulldogs tried to mount another rally.
“We’ve been in close games all year, and we’ve responded well,” said Chesterton junior outfielder Andrew Ralph, who went 4-for-5 with a double, a run and an RBI.
“It’s definitely a huge win. We have a good rhythm going. Respect will come if we keep playing hard. We’re playing well right now.”
Crown Point coach Steve Strayer did not think the Bulldogs played particularly well, especially after an “emotional” win against Lake Central on Monday. He lamented their inconsistency, “immaturity,” and lack of “hunger” and “killer instinct” after they had gained momentum.
“We’ve shown how good we can be, and we’ve shown we’re vulnerable if we’re not mentally ready to play,” Strayer said.
“We got beat. We were poor defensively. We were poor on the mound. And we had quite a few critical at-bats with guys in scoring position and didn’t come through. If we capitalize in one of those three areas, we still could’ve won the ballgame.”
The Trojans won the game with four runs on five hits in the sixth. Austin VanderZanden led off with a single, and Tyler Sufana singled with one out. Corey Rusboldt rolled a single to right to plate the go-ahead run, and Mitch Kobitz’s groundout make it 8-6. After Michael Griffin was hit by a pitch — in the top of the inning, with the infield in and runners on second and third with one out, the second baseman had made a terrific diving play to prevent the Bulldogs from scoring — Ralph dunked a run-scoring single that landed just inside the left-field line, and Eli Taubert gave Chesterton a 10-6 lead with an infield hit.
Crown Point scored two runs in the seventh and eventually had the tying run at the plate, but sophomore Matt Kubacki recorded the final three outs in relief of winning pitcher Dallas Milligan — neither starter, Chesterton’s Aery Pratt or Crown Point’s Noah Burkholder, factored into the decision — including a strikeout to end the game.
“For the most part, we’ve battled like this all year,” Trojans coach Jack Campbell said. “We’ve scored early, had a little bit of a lull, then scored some more. Good things happen when the hitters put the ball in play and the pitchers throw strikes, and we did that.”
Chesterton scored five runs on four hits in the first, with Pratt, VanderZanden and Kobitz each delivering a run-scoring single. The Trojans also scored on a balk and Rusboldt’s groundout.
Crown Point got on the board when Alex Nickla (to left-center) and Glenn Hecht (to left) jacked back-to-back homers to start the fourth. After Zach Plesac’s infield single and Ronnie Plesac’s double, Chris Dietrich’s groundout drew the Bulldogs to 5-3.
The Trojans got back a run in the bottom of the inning without the benefit of a hit, but Zach Plesac’s three-run homer to left for the Bulldogs tied the score at 6-6 in the fifth, after Nickla had doubled and Hecht had been hit by a pitch with one out.
But Chesterton had the answer one more time.
“It’s nice to be there (in first place), but it is double round-robin,” Campbell said. “That’s killer. We still have to go there, and they’ll probably have a Plesac waiting for us.”