Baseball Semi-State Preview

Athenians ready to battle Braves in semi-state


Crawfordsville baseball is just two wins away from playing for a Class 3A State Title. The mantra for the team all season has been the next game is the most important and with CHS being one of the final eight teams remaining in Class 3A that message rings as loud and as clear as it has all season. The IHSAA didn’t do the Athenians or their opponent in the Brebeuf Braves much of a favor as CHS will make the long three-hour trip down to the University of Evansville for the semi-finals on Saturday. The Athenians play Brebeuf in game one which is slated for a 10 a.m. central (11 Eastern) first pitch.

Crawfordsville enters with a 19-12 record and has out-scored their opponents this post-season by a staggering margin of 23-1. Crawfordsville coaches have noted that these past few weeks, they haven’t had to do much as this group of players led by four seniors in Kaden Patton, Mateo Flores, Bryce Dowell, and Kale Wemer have set the tone and energy during practice.

“We’re just going to stick with what’s worked and focus on us and continuing to play our best baseball,” Athenian skipper Brett Motz said. “We’re one of 32 teams left in the state and we’re certainly enjoying this experience of being together for another week. I’ve had a blast watching them enjoy this and we’ll certainly be ready to roll come Saturday.”

Flashback to March 30 and this Crawfordsville team sat at 0-5 on the season. A narrow 7-5 loss to Riverton Parke was followed with an 0-4 trip down to Murfreesboro, TN. Those early season struggles only made the team stronger and it was extra fuel added to the fire with people wondering what was wrong. Cville stayed the course and they ended up Sagamore Conference, sectional and Regional champions.

“I give all of that credit to the leaders of this team,” Motz said of overcoming the 0-5 start. “They could’ve easily talked amongst each other and said we’re not as good as we should be and that we could go through half-hearted practices. That’s not who these young are. They’re relentless and determined with their approach to every game and every rep in practice. It’s a group that has each other’s backs no matter what and will always be there to pick someone up.”

One-third of Crawfordsville’s lineup is made up of three individuals who have all gotten their first real test of varsity baseball this season. Freshman second baseman Henry Bannon, sophomore center-fielder Mason McCarty, and sophomore catcher Matt Miller have all had great moments throughout this season. Miller talked about what it’s like for him along with Bannon and McCarty to be apart of this run in their first varsity seasons.

“These seniors have helped Mason, Henry, and I all year and made us feel comfortable,” Miller said. “They have the confidence in us no matter what happens they trust us. To be apart of this in my first year on varsity is awesome because we’re all getting to play the game we love and we’re having fun while doing it.”

For Wemer it seems as the stage gets bigger and the lights get brighter, so does his game on the mound. In their three post-season wins, the Purdue commit has given up just one earned run in 19 innings and has struck out 23. Cville has relied on Wemer this post-season and Saturday against the Braves will be no different.

“It doesn’t matter who we’re facing, we as a team and myself included have come in with just a laser focused mindset,” Wemer said. “You can’t come into a game without the right mindset or else you’re going to have a bad game. Brebeuf is a good team and we know that we’re going to see great competition at this point. We know though if we play the type of baseball that we have these last few weeks, we can compete with anyone in the state.”

Dowell not only has been the Athenians No. 2 behind Wemer, but has swung a red hot bat his senior season. He comes in batting .427 with team-highs in hits (44), triples (4), and RBI’s (30). In whatever scenario that he’s been put in this season, Dowell has delivered and just like the other three senior, he isn’t quite ready to be done just yet.

“We’re not taking any of this for granted,” Dowell said. “We’re thankful to be where we are right now and to just get another week of practice. Everyone here has been locked in and believes that we can get the job done. I know that if we get past that first game, I’ll be asked to throw in the championship. Against Lebanon (7IP 2H 0R 1BB 9K) coach told me to treat it as the semi-state championship game and this moment is something that I’ve been waiting on for quite some time.”

A little info on the Athenians opponent in the Brebuef Braves. They come in with a 23-9 overall record and have outscored their opponents in the post-season 15-1. The defeated second-ranked Guerin Catholic 3-0 in the sectional championship game.

Junior Anthony Suscha leads the team with a .378 average with fellow junior Andrew O’Brien hitting .371 and senior Will Loftus at .354.

On the mound Northwestern commit and senior Christian Forniss will be the likely arm that Cville sees on Saturday. Forniss in 52.2 innings has a 2.13 ERA and has struck out 69 and walked 30 while giving up 31 hits. Junior Maverick Geske has thrown 45 innings and owns a 7-1 record on the season with a 2.02 ERA. Geske has struck out 62 and walked 31.

The winner between Crawfordsville and Brebuef will advance to the championship game on Saturday vs the winner of game two between Silver Creek (24-8) and Evansville Memorial (19-9). The championship is slated for a 7 p.m central (8 eastern) start.

You can listen to a live broadcast of the game on WIMC 103.9 with Codey Emerson and Dan Welliever if you’re unable to make the trip down to Evansville.