HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS

BASEBALL: Athenians keep Conference hopes alive

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A pitchers duel broke out at Crawfordsville’s baseball field for the last home game of the season, and the Athenians manufactured the only run of the game to take the 1-0 victory over Frankfort.

Cale Coursey and Kale Wemer combined for the home team’s shutout win, which moves Crawfordsville to 15-8 overall and 10-2 in the Sagamore Conference, only one game behind league-leading Lebanon in the loss column.

Hot Dogs sophomore pitcher Jose Lopez Alanis threw his own gem, going the distance, as Frankfort falls to 12-10 overall and 6-6 in the league.

“Every game is so important,” C’ville coach Brett Motz said. “We are getting into a sectional-type mindset. We had to win tonight, and we have to win tomorrow (Tuesday) to give us a shot in the Sagamore. That rolls into the sectionals right after that. We had to manufacture a run, and our pitchers and defense made it hold up. We had to find a way to win tonight, and we did. It was good to win a 1-0 game.”

Coursey threw five innings of no-hit baseball and picked up the win, running his record to 6-2. 

The sophomore got himself into a jam in the fifth with three walks, but kept his sheet clean with two strikeouts and getting a ground ball out. He finished with seven strikeouts.

“Coursey just upped his game in the fifth,” Motz said of his starter. “He had been living on the corners and didn’t get a couple calls. He could have gotten frustrated and lost his focus, but he maintained his composure and got some big pitches. He found that higher level of intensity.”

Wemer, making his team-best 14th appearance, picked up the save with two shutout innings of relief. 

The freshman got into trouble right away, walking the first hitter he faced and giving up a seeing-eye single, the only Hot Dogs hit of the game.

A missed bunt was followed by Caleb Coons throwing out the lead runner trying to steal, and after a second walk, a fly ball and strikeout ended that threat.

“Wemer has totally accepted this role as the relief guy,” Motz said. “When the game is on the line, he wants to be there, and we want him there. He has self-confidence, his team and his coaches have confidence in him.”

In the seventh, Wemer got a leadoff strikeout, his second, which was followed by a seven-pitch at-bat and a fly ball to center.

The numbers are only important because Wemer was getting very close to the 35-pitch count that would mean he could not throw against the Hot Dogs Tuesday.

Sitting at 29 pitches, the game momentarily looked to be changing as Frankfort hitter Conner Boone hit a shot to right-center field that had double written all over it.

Until Athenians senior center fielder Andrew Martin hauled it in after a long run to end the game.

“That was a gap shot,” Motz said of the hit, “and Andrew just tracked it down. He (Martin) had a big night. He was big in center field and was in on the play that scored our only run. It’s just what a senior leader needs to do.”

That run the coach referred to came in the third, as the Athenians didn’t hit a ball out of the infield and manufactured a run.

Leading off the inning, senior right fielder and No.9 hitter Sam Decker got grazed by a pitch and headed to first.

Martin, sporting the highest batting average on the team, laid down a sacrifice bunt, and beat it out for the infield single.

Decker, seeing a bobble, never slowed down at second, and as he headed for third, the throw sailed into the Crawfordsville bullpen. Decker scored his 13th run of the season.

“Sam is fourth on the team in runs scored with about half the at-bats,” Motz said. “Just another senior getting the job done.”

The Hot Dogs were not able to get a run across for Lopez Alanis, who allowed only two hits while striking out four without issuing a walk.

“All three pitchers threw well,” Frankfort coach Andy Dudley said. “Give Crawfordsville credit, they took advantage of our one mistake. We didn’t adjust enough or early enough against Coursey at the plate. We needed to shorten our swings, be more aggressive and not fall behind in the count. Lopez threw really well for us. Our defense was solid. This is a really young team, especially in our pitching. We’re getting closer and we’re getting stronger.”

Weather permitting, the two Sagamore Conference foes square off Tuesday at Frankfort.

Should the Athenians prevail, they have a Friday game at Lebanon to close out the conference schedule.

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