Babe Ruth Baseball: Lakers take title in tourney debut
By Mike Clark Post-Tribune correspondent July 10, 2012 11:10PM
LaPorte piles onto the field after defeating Hammond 3-1 in the Championship game at the Senior Babe Ruth Northern Indiana Tournament at Riverside Park in Hammond, IN on Tuesday July 10, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 12, 2012 6:41AM
HAMMOND — The strategy may have been unprecedented, and the result definitely was.
The LaPorte Lakers gambled with their pitching Tuesday night in the Senior Babe Ruth (16-18) Northern Indiana state tournament at Riverside Park, starting two pitchers who had thrown seven-inning shutouts the night before.
Jake Craft and Tommy Snyder almost repeated that feat, each throwing another complete game as the Lakers completed a historic comeback by sweeping the Hammond Chiefs 2-1 and 3-1 to win the state title in their debut Senior Babe Ruth season.
The Chiefs had come in 82-0 all-time in Northern Indiana tournament play and were aiming for their 18th state title. Instead, LaPorte (18-1) is heading to Dodgeville, Wis., for the Ohio Valley Regional, which starts on Saturday.
Snyder noted that this isn’t even the biggest comeback for him and some of his teammates. They were members of LaPorte’s 15-year-old all-star team that won a state title with nine straight victories after losing its opener in a 14-team bracket.
“It’s nothing new for a couple kids on this team,” he said.
Neither was the necessity of playing through pain.
“I was sore, but I wanted it,” he said. “It’s the state championship on the line. I wanted the ball in my hand.”
So did Craft in Tuesday’s first game.
“It feels good to win,” he said after that victory. “You gotta do what you gotta do. ...
“I felt good. Obviously, I wasn’t throwing as hard as (Monday) night. It was more important to hit my spots, keep the ball low. I tried to throw inside and jam them a lot and that seemed to work pretty well.”
LaPorte manager Jim Bodine didn’t make his pitching choices lightly.
“Goes against coaching principles,” he said. “The one thing I did was I checked with their parents and they said, ‘Go for it, Coach.’
“I had guys warming up every inning.”
But as it turned out, relievers weren’t needed.
In the opener, Craft pitched a six-hitter with two walks and four strikeouts. The Lakers went ahead 1-0 in the first inning when Craft drove in Ian Price with a groundout and made it 2-0 in the fourth when Tony Lemon scored on an error.
Hammond’s Dan DeBoer doubled home Kody Alayon in the sixth, but Craft finished off the win.
Then it was Snyder’s turn. He threw a four-hitter, walked one and fanned five, striking out the side in the seventh.
The Lakers scored all three of their runs in the bottom of the first, getting RBI singles from Craft and Mike Eldridge and a run-scoring fielder’s choice by Josh Batten.
The Chiefs (25-10) got a run back in the second on Larry Crisler’s RBI single, but that was it.
“Give them all the credit that they deserve,” Chiefs manager Dave Sutkowski said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get anything going.”