LINDEN — Austin Motz just wanted a chance.
And with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the seventh, while trailing 4-2 — he got the opportunity.
The junior crushed a pitch to right-center, clearing the bases and putting Crawfordsville ahead 5-4.
The Athenians held on for a 5-4 victory — improving to 14-7 overall and 9-2 in the Sagamore Conference.
“I was just ready and prepared to do what it takes to get it done,” Motz said after the hit. “We had been prepared all day, and we just needed a guy to step up and at the time it was me. We had guys get on to put me in that position, and just blood pumping. I was hoping I would be the one to get up there and have the chance to be that guy.”
Crawfordsville (14-7, 9-2 SAC) had taken a 2-0 lead in the second, before North Montgomery responded with a run in the second and three in the third to make it 4-2 Chargers. After a strikeout to start off the seventh, Bryce Dowell walked and Kale Wemer had a base-hit. Andrew Martin later notched his second hit of the night to load the bases with two outs — giving Motz the opportunity.
“I’m super proud of them,” first-year Crawfordsville coach Brett Motz said. “Just like last night we had opportunities early but didn’t take advantage. I just told the guys I’m super proud of them for hanging in there and giving ourselves a chance at the end. They had a really good approach in that last inning and put a lot of pressure on the defense to pitch and to play defense, so that’s all you can ask for and then obviously the one big hit by Austin.”
North Montgomery (12-9, 5-7 SAC) jumped on Crawfordsville starting pitcher Caleb Coons for three runs in the third behind a pair of walks and a double from Jordan Miller. The Chargers chased Coons out of the game, but were unable to get much going against reliever Kale Wemer the rest of the way.
The freshman allowed five hits in five innings pitched, gave up no runs, walked two and struck-out five.
“He’s just shown really good composure all season long,” Motz said. “And he’s been put in some really tough situations as a freshman and for him to come in and step up his game in those tough situations says a lot about his character and his motivation to want to succeed. It’s not normal for a freshman to have that composure in a big game. I think he’s a special kid that’s going to do a lot of good things here at Crawfordsville.”
And it was a spot Wemer was comfortable in.
“Just taking deep breaths,” Wemer said. “Honestly I’ve played with half of these buddies my whole life and just having a little conversation with them and it feels good to do that. Just being relaxed and knowing you have it. That last inning, I like that stuff. I know that’s why the coaches put me in there.”
North Montgomery put a guy on thanks to a Ross Dyson hit in the last half of the seventh, and Max Verduin battled with two outs, but lined out back to Wemer to end the game. Overall Chargers’ coach Ryan Nupnnau was pleased with how his team battled.
“Crawfordsville won the game, we did not lose it,” he said. “They won it there. Motz had a great triple there to right-center to clear the loaded bases. “But I’m proud of our kids. We came out here and they scored two early on us in the top of the second and then we answered in the bottom of the second. So that was good to see us come out and answer and compete like that and then we were able to follow that up with another three runs in the following inning to go up two.”
Nuppnau felt like the Chargers played well enough to win, especially pitcher Jakob Kirsch, who allowed six hits, three earned runs, a walk and seven strikeouts. However, they stranded bases loaded in the fourth, two guys in the sixth and another one in their last at-bat.
“We played great defensively and Jakob (Kirsch) and Jacob (Braun) did a good job throwing and calling the game again, and it’s one of those things where we were hoping in the sixth inning to get something out of that, but unfortunately we weren’t. That sixth inning was probably more the game than the seventh. I’m proud of our kids and I hope they’re seeing that they can compete with anybody when they come to play.”
Crawfordsville welcomes Park Tudor on Saturday, while North Montgomery travels to Rossville Friday.