News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

May 12, 2013

South baseball remains in first-place tie with Center Grove

Braves split doubleheader with Trojans

TERRE HAUTE — Heading into Saturday’s Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference baseball doubleheader against Center Grove, coach Kyle Kraemer of Terre Haute South wasn’t completely optimistic.

“We couldn’t win the MIC this weekend, but we could lose it,” he said as the day ended, and from that perspective the split — South winning the opener 6-5, the Trojans taking the nightcap 8-2 — wasn’t such a bad thing.

Particularly since Center Grove had 25 hits for the day to South’s eight.

As it turned out, either the Braves or Trojans actually could have won the MIC — or clinched a share of it — with a sweep.

Thanks to Carmel’s two wins at Terre Haute North on Saturday, South and Center Grove — both 9-3 in MIC games — have two-game leads over the rest of the conference with two games to play. South’s last conference games are a home doubleheader Friday against Lawrence North — a team that handed Terre Haute North one of its conference losses — while Center Grove finishes its league schedule against last-place Warren Central.

After a couple of innings Saturday, the Braves were in the driver’s seat with a 6-1 lead. The rest of the day, however, was spent trying to contain the Trojan offense.

Pete Lannoo had his sinker working, inducing three grounders in the top of the first inning, and got a clutch hit in the bottom of the inning as the Braves took a 2-0 lead.

Center Grove botched a pickoff attempt to keep South’s first inning alive, and Lannoo’s two-out hit made the Trojans pay. A walk to Preston Tofaute and another clutch single, this by Austin Slover, made it 2-0.

The visitors got a run in the top of the second inning on a two-out bloop single, but Conner Shipley’s leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning started a four-run rally.

Justin Jenkins got a one-out infield hit and walks to Jared Wolfe and Jacob Johnson forced in one run. Lannoo hit a sacrifice fly, and then two more runs scored on a two-out error. Slover followed up that error with his second hit in as many innings but that, as it turned out, was the end of South’s offense for the game. Relief pitcher Eli Weartz retired the last 13 Braves in order, and his teammates kept pecking away at South’s lead.

Getting a leadoff hit in each of their scoring innings, the Trojans got a two-out run in the top of the third and two more runs in the fourth — the second scoring when the Braves narrowly missed turning a double play that would have ended the inning. After a leadoff double in the top of the fifth, Kraemer rolled the dice and brought in freshman pitcher Logan Ames.

Before he retired a batter, Ames gave up a hit and then balked to allow a run to score. A ground out moved the tying run to third with one out, but Ames struck out the next two batters.

The freshman retired the first two batters in the top of the sixth before giving up a double — on an 0-and-2 pitch, the violation of perhaps his coach’s most sacred pitching rule — but Wolfe ran a long way to catch a foul ball to end the inning. The first two Center Grove batters in the top of the seventh were retired quickly, but then an infield hit and two walks loaded the bases before Patrick Norris lined out to Cody Brock at first base to end the game.

“He made it interesting,” Kraemer said later, but Ames had his first varsity save.

The Braves had another hitless inning to start the second game, but they also had a 1-0 lead. Jenkins walked, stole second and came around on Wolfe’s bunt and Johnson’s grounder.

But Center Grove tied the game in the second on a solo homer by Jacob Wilkerson and took the lead in the bottom of the third when Norris tripled and scored on a single by Terrance Parks.

South got its first hits in quite a while in the top of the third, singles by Mitchell Clinkenbeard and Wolfe, but hit into a double play to end the threat. And with two outs in the fourth, a hit by Slover and a walk to Brock put two runners on base, but to no avail.

Then the dam burst. A leadoff homer by Norris followed by a triple by Parks started a three-run fifth inning, and Will Todd’s two-run homer was the big blow in a three-run sixth frame. Slover doubled for South in the seventh — he had half of his team’s hits for the day — and pinch-runner Clayton Streeter scored the game’s final run on an error.

“[Our pitchers] have got to get it figured out,” Kraemer said afterward. “[Center Grove is] a very good hitting team … they don’t get cheated [at the plate].

“We’re playing a lot of young kids, but I don’t know if that’s an excuse after 21 games,” the coach added. “We were fortunate to get out with a split today.”

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