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Victory Field! Lanesville in position for state final return

Victory Field! Lanesville in position for state final return
Victory Field! Lanesville in position for state final return
Lanesville baseball players hold up the semi-state champions plaque after defeating Indianapolis Lutheran, 6-2, Saturday in Jasper. The Eagles are bound for their second consecutive Class 1A state championship game this Saturday at 11 a.m. at Victory Field in Indianapolis versus Rossville. Photos by Wade Bell

Last year when the Lanesville Eagles baseball team made its trip to Victory Field in Indianapolis for state baseball final, it was shutout by Daleville in a 4-0 loss. That game has stuck with the No. 8 Eagles and their 10 seniors throughout the 2017 season.
The first goal was to get back to Victory Field, something the team accomplished Saturday at the Class 1A Jasper Semi-state when it put away the Saints of Indianapolis Lutheran in a 6-2 win.
The Eagles, however, are still salivating for more and hope to bring home some larger hardware when they face Rossville on Saturday at 11:07 a.m.
‘Last year was kind of unexpected, and we knew we were good and we just kind of put something together there at the end,’ Lanesville coach Zach Payne said. ‘This year, we expected to be here from the beginning. So, it’s a little bit different feeling … We’re still one game away from our goal though.’
Lanesville senior pitcher and winner against Lutheran said this time around, it wasn’t a fluke punching a ticket to Victory Field.
‘We bunted our way through sectional (last year),’ Cameron Harvey said. ‘We bunted our way through regional and bunted our way in the semi-state. This year, we’re hitting the crap out of the ball one through nine so that’s helped out a lot.’
‘We knew what was at stake,’ catcher Evan Peele said. ‘It’s a one-game season, single elimination and you’re out. Last year with going to state, we went through as a force to be reckoned with. We came here to play, and our goal this year was to win at Victory Field. So, that goal still remains. We still have one more step to take. This game right here is a big step. You’ve got to get here first to be able to get that privilege and opportunity. Everything is earned. Nothing is given. We understand that.’
The first inning of Saturday’s semi-state suggested a possible pitchers’ duel as Lutheran’s Matthew Alter struck out the side in the top of the first and Harvey gunned down two of Lutheran batters in the bottom of the inning.
In the top of the second, Lanesville got its timing down against Alter with Mitchell Bailey and Harvey both hitting on safely. Noah Jones moved both runners an extra base on a sacrifice bunt. Tommy Tidstrom walked to load the bases then Zach Fink ripped a double to right centerfield to score Bailey and Harvey for a 2-0 lead.
‘We didn’t score the first inning like the last few times we’ve been the visitors,’ Payne said. ‘We still wanted to score early and, with Cameron on the mound, if you get an early lead, it’s pretty disheartening for the other team sometimes.’
Harvey struck out the side in the bottom of the second. In the top of the third, the Lanesville bats went to work again. With two outs, Ryan McCubbins singled on a 3-2 pitch. Jones walked, then McCubbins scored on a Tidstrom single. Fink singled, scoring Jones, and Isaac Casabella kept the parade going with a single to score Tidstrom.
‘Our guys are never going to quit just because there’s two outs,’ Payne said. ‘We’ve done that several times this year. We can score with two outs. We’re a mentally tough group and going to keep doing it.’
Lutheran changed pitchers, going with Aidon Bradbury in relief. Bradbury immediately walked two: Daly to load the bases and Peele to score Fink. The Lanesville lead suddenly ballooned to 6-0.
In the bottom of the third, Harvey gave no mercy from the mound, striking out the side, personally gunning down eight of Lutheran’s first nine batters.
‘He’s a tough guy to hit for 1A batters,’ Payne said of Harvey. ‘We feel confident out there with him or Brenden (Bube) at any point in the game. We’re pretty lucky to have those two guys out there, and that doesn’t even count Mitchell Bailey or Greg Daly. Those are two other guys we feel confident with on the mound.’
Lutheran got one of those runs back in the bottom of the fourth when Patrick Kem got an infield single and Jacob Faubion walked. Carson Thomas moved both runners over on a sacrifice bunt, then Noah Wood ripped a sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring Kem for a run and closing the gap to 6-1.
Lanesville threatened again with two outs in the top of the fifth when Daly walked and Peele reached first on an error. Daly tried to force the issue with a run to home. Lutheran catcher Caleb Clark caught the throw and swept down to Daly, who was called out. The Lanesville dugout argued that Daly slid under the throw but that fell on deaf ears.
Lutheran failed to score in the bottom of the inning, and the Eagles left a runner on in the top of the sixth. In the bottom of the sixth, the game tightened up a bit more when Lanesville committed two errors, allowing Kem and Jacob Faubion on safely. Both advanced on a passed ball with Carson Thomas at bat, who eventually walked to load the bases. Noah Wood hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Kem. Harvey struck out the next two Saints to take Lutheran out of the inning, but the game tightened at 6-2.
‘Our guys are mentally tough,’ Payne said about his team staying focused despite the errors. ‘I knew that wouldn’t affect us. I knew we’d get some outs. It was just a matter of when. I knew we would minimize the damage at some point. That’s what we did.’
Lanesville catcher Peele said he wanted to make sure Harvey stayed calm as the Saints closed the gap.
‘I just told him to keep doing what he’s doing,’ Peele said. ‘He kind of let off on his arm speed. I think he might have been a little nervous, but he pulled himself together very well. He pitched a great game. He kind of had an inning or two where he was struggling a little bit, but he did a great job of finishing strong … and that’s what’s important.’
‘I’ve had a lot of situations like that this year,’ Harvey said. ‘Playing in summer ball helps me in situations like that too. I just throw to contact in a situation like that to let them hit the ball. We had that error, but our defense is pretty good and they’ve always got my back.’
Lanesville failed to score in the top of the seventh. Bube went to the mound for the Eagles to start the bottom of the seventh. Bube struck out lead-off batter Matt Holm then watched as Zach Sanders singled and stole second. Jared Sneed got caught looking at a called third strike. Kem walked, putting Lutheran in scoring position again. It would end there, however, as Faubion flied out to left fielder McCubbins. The Eagles converged for a perfect dog-pile near the pitcher’s mound as they celebrated a trip back to Victory Field and the state final.
‘Before the season started, we told the guys everybody knew our goal was to win a state championship, but we kept telling the guys we don’t start with the state championship,’ Payne said. ‘Now we are at the state championship, so it’s kind of come full circle.’
‘This year we have a lot more confidence,’ Harvey said. ‘We have 10 seniors that are all really good. We’ve got a really good freshmen crew. Everybody all around is really good. We hit the ball one through nine where as last year we were doing squeezes and situational plays like that.’
Harvey did a lot of damage both from the pitching mound and the batter’s box. The Lanesville senior struck out 11 Lutheran batters, had three singles for the day and scored a run. Bailey had two hits as did Fink. Bube finished with two strikeouts and a walk in relief. The Eagles had three errors and left eight runners on base.
‘I think (Harvey) got a little mentally exhausted there toward the end,’ Payne said. ‘That was kind of his deal. Overall, we can’t ask for anything better from a pitcher in a semi-state baseball game.
‘Brendan, his velocity is there. I wouldn’t say he’s 100 percent but, if he’s not 100 percent, he might be 90 percent,’ Payne said of Bube who is returning from a knee surgery. ‘He’s still got another gear, and he’s still getting healthy and getting stronger. Every week he’s come back with even more velocity.’
‘I was feeling pretty good and doing pretty good,’ Harvey said. ‘I had my defense around me, but they didn’t hit very many balls obviously. As the game went on, it got a little bit more intense through the lineup a few times. I probably threw 95-percent fastballs through that game, and they weren’t touching it. There was a little bit of adversity there the last few innings, but we battled through it and felt good about it.’
Lutheran finished with two hits. Alter struck out three and walked three for the loss on the hill, while Bradbury struck out four and walked four. The Saints had one error and left six runners on base.
Lanesville (19-6) now moves on to Victory Field in Indianapolis where the Eagles will face Rossville (24-8). The Eagles have no plans of letting off the gas.
‘I don’t know anything (about Rossville), but we know they’re a good team and you don’t get this far without being a good team,’ Payne said.
‘We’re just going to do what we do and going to come out guns blazing,’ Peele said. ‘Our bats are going to stay hot. We’re going to have strong defense like we always do. That’s a big thing. When you’re playing in a state finals, there’s teams that are going to hit and we understand that. We have one of the best pitchers in 1A but, at that level, you know the guys are going to hit the ball. But we feel confident in our defense that we can back him up and everything. We feel good. We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing and come with everything we have.’

Lanesville 024 000 0 ‘ 6 9 3
Ind. Lutheran 000 101 0 ‘ 2 2 1
W ‘ Harvey (9-2), L ‘ Alter.
2B ‘ Fink (L).
Records: Lanesville 19-6, Indianapolis Lutheran 18-8.