News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local Interest

May 29, 2012

Eaton’s pair of long balls put Linton in title game

LINTON — Linton blasted its way into the championship game of its hometown Class 2A high school baseball sectional as No. 9 hitter Beau Eaton cranked a pair of home runs to left field, and starting pitcher Tanner Butler capped Linton's scoring with a grand slam.

The sophomore outfielder led off the Miners’ 11-run fourth inning with his second homer of the game — and second of the season — as Linton won 15-2 over a Sullivan team that had the program’s best season in several years.

“He’s struggled a little bit this year,” Linton coach Matt Fougerousse said of Eaton. “Here lately he’s changed his swing up. Keeping it simple, short to the ball, you put the bat on there and good things happen.”

Linton earned a battle with No. 6 North Central (20-5). Big defensive plays and Daniel Loveall’s pitching carried the Thunderbirds — the state runner-up in Class A in 2011 — to a 5-1 victory against North Knox.

Loveall improved to 7-0 on the season as coach Craig Grow saved ace Connor Strain for the title game. Loveall walked just one in seven innings of work, keeping North Knox’s opportunities limited.

“Loveall just does a tremendous job again. He kept them off balance. He doesn’t walk very many,” Grow said.

North Knox (8-12) pitcher Tyler Sanders pitched well, but his defense let him down, resulting in four unearned runs.

“Change his name to Bulldog Sanders. I can’t say enough about the job he did. Sanders was so effective the last two nights,” North Knox coach Bill Cary said.

The Warriors’ defense made three costly errors to give North Central breathing room in a tight game.

“That’s the difference between the championship caliber they are and maybe the contending caliber we are,” Cary said. “They made those plays; we had a couple that we didn’t make. You’re talking about us playing a perfect game. We’re 8-12, we’re not a perfect team.”

North Central shut down the Warriors’ early threats with sharp glove work. With runners on second and third, Nate Lyday came up with a ball that deflected off the glove of first baseman Nolan Kinnett to get catcher Alex Smith on a bang-bang play at first.

The T-Birds also turned a big double play in the fifth when interference was called on the North Knox baserunner.

In Monday morning’s opener, the Golden Arrows fell behind early, and couldn’t regain momentum.

The Golden Arrows went 16-12 under first year coach Matthew McLaren, but the Miners took advantage of six walks and pounded the ball.

“This is the first time we’ve been run-ruled this year,” McLaren said. “We’ve responded all year long. We had little rallies in the second and third but hit into a double play.  We’ve been a team that thrived on aggressive baserunning. We didn’t have the chance to do that today. They kind of took it out of our hands.”

McLaren looks to build off this season. Sullivan sophomore shortstop Camdon Kuppler hit a home run in the fifth, his first since homering on the first pitch he saw this season at Vincennes Rivet. He’ll be among many returning regulars for the Arrows.

“We've got young kids coming up and good kids coming back. We showed a lot of people around here that Sullivan baseball is back on the uptick,” the first-year coach said.

Fougerousse said his team hit the ball well of late but with time off he was a little unsure what to expect.

“We gave them the weekend off with graduation and everything and to get some rest. I was a little worried how we’d hit this morning,” he said.

Following Easton’s homer that knocked Sullivan starter James Lisman from the game, Bryce Bement walked two of the first three batters he faced, with the other reaching on an error. That was a recipe for disaster as Linton strung four straight singles together, and Butler cleared the outfield fence easily to finish the inning.

On the mound, Butler walked three but struck out five in four innings of work, allowing just one Sullivan run. Fougerousse used Bryant Jackson in the fifth “just in case we need him tonight,” the coach said.

The Miners prepared to face North Central’s Strain, a hard-throwing right-hander who is committed to play for the University of Evansville.

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