Hammond knocks off defending state champ Schererville in Senior Babe Ruth tournament
BY MIKE CLARK Post-Tribune correspondent July 12, 2013 11:44PM
Updated: August 14, 2013 6:17AM
CROWN POINT — It isn’t often a walk-off win in the opener is almost forgotten by the end of the night, but that’s what happened Friday in the Senior Babe Ruth (16-18) Northern Indiana state tournament.
After the Hammond Hurricanes Purple edged the Schererville Indians 8-7 in eight innings, the defending champ LaPorte Lakers and Crown Point 20 hooked up in a pitchers’ duel that ended in stunning fashion.
Crown Point was up 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth when a collision at the plate led to both benches emptying, fans coming onto the field and the ejections of a player on each team and and two LaPorte coaches.
Police were called to prevent further incidents.
Babe Ruth state commissioner Tom Wright, who was at the game, declared a 7-0 forfeit win for Crown Point.
LaPorte’s Tommy Byvoets, who attempted to score when a throw home went to the backstop, was ejected for what Wright called “malicious contact,” while Crown Point pitcher Mike Sullivan was ejected for retaliation.
LaPorte manager Tim Eldridge and coach Ian Eldridge were ejected in the ensuing argument.
Wright said Tim Eldridge will not be allowed to coach again in the tournament, while Ian Eldridge and the two players must sit out two games.
Before the altercation, Jake Benich singled home Mitchell Kooi in the top of the sixth to give Crown Point a 2-1 lead. Post 20 took a 1-0 lead in the second when Lucas Grapenthien scored on a wild pitch and LaPorte tied it on Danny Hill’s suicide squeeze in the fourth.
Post 20 will play the Hurricanes in the winners’ bracket final at 8 p.m. Saturday. LaPorte is scheduled to play at 3 p.m. against the winner of a 10 a.m. game between Logansport and the Northwest Indiana Rippers, but it was unclear Friday night if the Lakers would return.
Earlier, the Hurricanes overcame a rough start to knock Schererville into the losers’ bracket.
Center fielder Terrell Steward missed the start of the game because of traffic. Then the Hurricanes fell behind by four runs before they had a chance to bat.
But if the Hurricanes were down, they were never out. They wiped out the early deficit and then came from behind again in the bottom of the eighth.
Friday’s contest turned on the final two at-bats of the game. The Hurricanes trailed 8-7 with two out and Devonte Robinson on second base. Steward hit a chopper to third and beat the throw to first for an infield hit.
Robinson rounded third and kept going, sliding home around the tag attempt by Schererville catcher Ryan Einterz to score the tying run on a bang-bang play.
“I saw (the third baseman) throw the ball to first (and) I just wasn’t going to stop,” Robinson said. “I knew I had to get in, I had to get that run for my team. It was a close play; I thought I got around (the tag).”
Schererville players and coaches thought differently and protested the call. With time not being called, Steward hustled all the way around to third.
“My heart was beating out of my chest,” said Steward, who then scored the winning run without a play on Aurelio Cazares’ infield chopper.
“Wow, what a game,” Hurricanes manager Vern Jefferson said. “We must have made more than 10 mistakes during the game, whether it was baserunning, not covering (bases). But we just kept fighting and fighting.”
Steward’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh tied the score 6-6 and the Hurricanes then loaded the bases with one out. But Schererville reliever Joey Plesac struck out the next two batters to
force extra innings.
The Indians scored an unearned run in the top of the eighth to go up 7-6 before the Hurricanes’ heroics ended it.
Adam Crnkovic was 3-for-3 for Hammond and Matt Bulatovich went 1-for-3 with a walk, two runs and an RBI. Aurelio Cazares, who pitched a three-hit shutout to beat the Northwest Indiana Rippers on Wednesday, got the last two outs for the win.
Schererville was led by Christian Sullivan, who went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and two RBIs. Rory Gard, Jimmy Tarala, Tony Schneider and Plesac all had two hits for the Indians.