Cale Coursey did the heavy lifting, while Andrew Martin, Henry Taylor, and Kale Wemer each provided a spark in a 2-0 Crawfordsville baseball win over Montgomery County and Sagamore Conference rival North Montgomery on Tuesday night.
Coursey tossed six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and a walk, while striking out 10. Wemer relieved him on the mound with a scoreless seventh. Offensively, Martin had two hits and scored twice, once on a Taylor base-hit in the third and another on a Taylor groundball in the sixth.
“He’s (Coursey) been pretty locked in,” Crawfordsville coach Brett Motz said. “He’s been dominate early in almost every outing, and then he has a tendency to slow up a little bit, and tonight he kept the foot on the gas and did a really great job of maintaining his focus and I think his body is getting in better shape, which allowed him to get a little deeper into the game.”
Coursey struck-out six of the first seven batters he faced, and didn’t allow a hit until the third inning.
“When you give them 11 strikeouts out of 21 outs in a game, you really hinder what you can do offensively,” North Montgomery coach Ryan Nuppnau said. “We did not put pressure on them by getting hits. And it’s just our guys understanding after the first couple of batters how we need to approach the plate, how we need to approach the at-bat. Seeing the first couple of guys having trouble staying up with it and saying ‘hey guys we need to shorten up, and put the ball on the bat and make something happen.’”
Max Verduin had a hit, while Jacob Braun had lead-off hits in the fifth and seventh, but his courtesy runner was stranded in the fifth and picked off in the seventh.
North Montgomery’s best opportunity to score came in the top of the sixth, putting two guys on with two outs. Motz was headed to the mound to take Coursey out of the game, but changed his mind halfway there.
“There’s no question that he wanted the ball in his hands,” Motz said. “I went out there to take him out in the sixth inning when they had two runners and Martin was up. He was 100% ready to compete tonight and I was happy with his performance.”
Coursey retired Martin on strikes for the third time in the game to work out of the jam. And according to Motz, it’s been the sophomore’s recent development of a third pitch that’s helped him continue to be one of the area’s top pitchers.
“Just two weeks ago he’s really been able to locate his changeup, which is his third pitch,” he said. “Against lefties the ball was going down and away from them. He’s got confidence in all three pitches, and coach Welliever has confidence in him to throw it in any count. Those two guys are working together and obviously Coons (Caleb) does a great job of keeping it in front of him and Coursey can locate it down when he gets guys with two strikes to chase and when all three of those things are working, then we are usually having some success.”
Despite the loss, Nuppnau was pleased with the Chargers’ effort defensively, especially from freshman pitcher Jarrod Kirsch, who allowed one run on four hits in five innings, working out of multiple jams.
“Jarrod Kirsch did well up there,” he said. “He threw a lot of pitches and got himself in a bind a few times giving up a lot of walks, but he got himself out. And what I was telling the guys afterward was that I love that mental ability to regroup and to take care of business. At the end, he did not fold.”
Crawfordsville will visit North Montgomery tonight at 7 p.m. For the Athenians, Motz hopes their sticks can come through when it matters most.
“It was a game where we were giving them opportunities to stay in the game throughout the early portion of the game,” he said about Tuesday’s contest. “And those are the ones I get extra nervous about, because we have so many opportunities from the first inning. There’s no question about it that we’ve struggled with leaving way too many runners on base and tonight was the same. You have to give some credit to their pitcher (Kirsch), who shut the door on us when we thought we had opportunities to score. We definitely have to do a better job in the future.”
And the same goes for the Chargers, who now know they can compete with their county rival.
“I think today we proved that we can play with Crawfordsville,” Nuppnau said. “We are a young team, very young compared to them. And we can play with them, we just have to come out ready to play tomorrow and ready to go.”