Henry Taylor lifted Crawfordsville past Griffith 7-6 on Saturday afternoon in the third-place game of the 36th-Annual Athenian Invite with a walk-off hit with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
The win salvaged a 1-1 day in the two-game tournament, but the dramatic ending came after the Athenians blew a 5-3 lead, allowing three Panther runs to score in the top of the sixth. Crawfordsville loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth, but didn’t come away with a run. They loaded them again in the seventh with nobody out, and after Griffith recorded two outs, Zack Fichter walked to score Kale Wemer, before Taylor hit in Sam Decker to end the game.
“At the end of the day we won the second game, so we can hang our hat and say ‘you know what, we didn’t play up to our potential, but figured out a way to win at the end,’” Crawfordsville first-year coach Brett Motz said. “We took a step backwards today in my opinion. We try and create this as a tournament environment to try and understand the importance of being able to play two games back-to-back. We have a lot of learning to do and a lot of things to figure out with our team.”
Tied 3-3 after three innings, the Athenians took the lead in the last half of the fourth with a pair of runs. Bryce Dowell walked to lead off the inning, while Wemer sacrificed Dowell with a bunt and reached on an error. Fichter had a RBI hit in the inning.
Errors, mostly throwing errors, committed by the Athenians opened the door for the Panther rally. Crawfordsville had six errors in the game.
“Those are instincts of years of possibly doing things wrong and they have to be corrected,” Motz said. “And I hope the feeling of negativty whenever throwing errors happen allow coaches and players to figure out ways to practice them more and understanding exactly what the score is and when the ball is misplaced somewhere to not get so overly hyper about the situation and just remain calm and try to be more instinctive on when is the right time and the wrong time to make throws that are not necessary.”
There were many positives on the offensive side in the win. Andrew Martin and Austin Motz each had three hits, while Taylor had two. Fichter had three RBI and Taylor a pair. Wemer pitched a scoreless seventh inning to pick up the win.
The win moves Crawfordsville to 5-3, but for Motz he hopes to use it more as a learning tool than a measuring stick.
“As much as I love that our guys continued to battle in te sixth and seventh and get on base and give our team a chance to win, I just feel like our mindset wasn’t right and I felt like just the lack of energy after a walk-off win,” he said. “I had to teach our guys that it was okay to run out onto the field and celebrate after a walk-off win. What do we blame that on? Do we blame it on not playing for the last couple of years, do you blame that on kids not watching baseball ever anymore, or do you have to coach that stuff? I’m struggling with understanding what exactly needs to be coached.”
He says it’s back to the drawing board, knowing his team is capable of much more. The Athenians have a Sagamore Conference home and away with Tri-West this week before hosting SAC foe Lebanon on and Saturday.
“I need to learn how to coach killer instinct, I need to learn how to coach how to be mentally tough, I need to learn how to be more prepared in more situations,” Motz said. “I’m back at the drawing board and hoping to find ways to teach these young players how to react to situations and how to have more of a drive to win.”
Athenians lose 8-1 to Knights
Lafayette Central Catholic’s Mark Cramer dominated Crawfordsville’s hitters in an 8-1 Knights win in the semi-final on Saturday morning. Central Catholic went on to defeat Norwell 8-7 in the championship game on Saturday night.
Cramer threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 27 batters he faced, throwing just 81 pitches in seven innings. The senior allowed seven hits, an unearned run, walked none and struckout one in the win.
“We’ve got to be able to hit guys like that,” Crawfordsville coach Brett Motz said. “We’ve got to be able to put the ball in play hard, whether that’s a hit every time, no, but we’ve got to be able to hit it hard. Our guys have got to learn how to make some adjustments when a guy is pitching a certain way, and change our approach when a guy is throwing a lot of offspeed stuff. Offensively we were just nowhere near where we need to be.”
Central Catholic held a narrow 2-1 lead after two innings, but added three runs of insurance in the fifth, two more in the sixth and another in the seventh.
Andrew Martin and Caleb Coons led the Athenians with two hits apiece.