A single run. That was all that was scored in a top notch pitchers dual Wednesday at Crawfordsville in a battle of two top 10 teams in Class 3A when the No. 10 Tri-West Bruins traveled to take on the No. 9 Crawfordsville Athenians in the Class 3A Sectional 25 opener. That single run was scored by the Bruins all the back in the very first inning and that was all they needed to move on the semi-finals as Cville saw its season come to an end.
A lead-off single off the bat of Chase Hardman followed by two stolen bases saw him at third base. The Bruins designated hitter Chase Holland then singled Hardman home for the lone run of the ball game.
Crawfordsville (20-9) was able to out-hit the Bruins seven to five in the loss but could never string together the timely hits it needed. Wyatt Motz reached on an error then stole second in the top of the third. With Cale Coursey up the plate he laced a pitch back up the middle that unfortunately found the foot of Bruin pitcher Issac Pierson. Motz was forced to stay at third as Coursey was denied what likely would have been the tying RBI. For the game Cville stranded eight base runners.
“You have to give Tri-West a lot of credit,” Crawfordsville coach Brett Motz said. “We had plenty of opportunities throughout that game to scratch across a run or two and just couldn’t find a way to do it. Our guys were locked in and were in the best mental state we’ve been in all season long. In the end they made just enough plays to keep us off our toes.”
Not only was this the matchup of two top 10 teams, but also a matchup of the top two teams in the Sagamore Conference. Tri-West won the SAC out-right while the Athenians finished second. Bruins coach Nicholas Spence knew it was going to be a battle yet again with two talented teams squaring off. He complimented junior ace Isaac Pierson for his successful outing on the mound.
“We know that when we’re struggling offensively that Isaac is going to be there to pick us up,” Spence said. “Our goal when he’s on the mound is to get a win every single time. I thought we weren’t as aggressive earlier in the count as we could’ve been. I’m still very proud of our guys for battling till the final pitch and picking up a big win over a very good Crawfordsville team.”
Pierson went the distance for the Bruins throwing a complete game with giving up seven hits and striking out five Athenians. He didn’t walk a single batter. His counter part on the mound in Coursey for CHS pitched just about as well as he could’ve. In six innings Coursey allowed just five Bruin hits while striking out 10. The one run was earned as the senior in his final start for Crawfordsville walked four.
The seven Crawfordsville hits came were from Kale Wemer who had himself a two-hit night as did C. Coursey. Jude Coursey, Bryce Dowell, and AJ Hall all had a hit each. Tri-West’s five hits came from Hardman who ended with two. Holland also had a pair of hits while Reid Benner added one.
“Crawfordsville is a storied baseball program and Coach Motz does a great job with them,” Spence said. “We kind of want to pick up on their style of how they play. I did love that in the final coaches poll they were ninth and we were 10th. That gave our guys a little extra motivation for sure. But at the end of the day these guys just find ways to win baseball games. This is a game last year where we’d probably lose by one.”
Crawfordsville season comes to an abrupt end yet again as the Athenians are still in search of their first sectional title since 2013. Despite the loss, Motz is judging this season more than just the wins and losses.
“It does hurt and it should hurt,” Motz said of the season coming to an end. “That’s because everyone of those guys that put on that Crawfordsville baseball uniform cared. They were all pulling for each other and as a coach I’m more proud of that than the 20-win season.”
Crawfordsville says goodbye to six senior from this 2023 team. Cale Coursey, Kaiden Underwood, AJ Hall, Javier Resto, Dylan Farley, and Isaac Rogers. Motz put in some final words about the 2023 Athenian seniors.
“I’ve been able to coach Kaiden, Dylan, and Isaac since they’ve been in little league,” Motz said. “Then you throw in guys like Javy, AJ, and Cale who’ve been with this program for the last 2-3 years. They helped us add the pieces to our program that we needed. The chemistry of this group is led by those six men.”
With their win the Bruins get win No. 20 of the season and improve to 20-6. They’ll play for a spot in the championship game tomorrow night in game one between the winner of Western Boone and Danville, a pair of teams that the Bruins went a combined 4-0 against during the regular season.
“We’ve played with a target on our back the last four or five weeks now,” Spence said. “The best quality about this team is that we’re always going to play a complete seven innings.”