Lanesville pushes NP
Brian Smith, Sports Editor
The Lanesville baseball program would make a horrible contestant on the old television show ‘Fear Factor,’ a game show daring contestants to attempt stunts sometimes scared some away from potential prizes.
Not backing down its baseball schedule, Lanesville played all comers from 1A to 4A in Southern Indiana. Playing its final postseason in 2A before moving back to 1A, Lanesville took the joy of winning sectional to League Stadium in Huntingburg for the Southridge Regional.
Facing North Posey in the semi-final under sunny skies, Lanesville struck first, but a five-run fourth inning from the Vikings proved to be the difference. North Posey went on to end Lanesville’s season with a 7-5 score on Saturday.
‘We are going to let everyone know that we belong,’ Lanesville coach Zach Payne said of his message to players leading up to the game. ‘We play a really tough schedule. We told the kids that we’ve already played the best team we’re going to face all year. We came out here to win, and there was no doubt in our mind that we could win a few but, unfortunately, we didn’t.’
Lanesville struck first on the scoreboard with an RBI single from Jacob Wernert. Punching a hit through the right side, Wernert plated Justin Bailey, who led off the second inning with a walk. Bailey was moved into scoring position on a Bryce Kendall sac bunt.
For Wernert, he didn’t know he would be inserted into the starting lineup until the Eagles boarded the bus. The team’s usual designated hitter, Brayden Kiesler, didn’t make the trip due to illness.
‘We’ve had a lot of injuries this year and a lot of times, when the person steps into that position, they step up,’ Payne said. ‘It was good to see Jacob get out there and get a big hit. He didn’t know he was going to play until we got on the bus this morning. He thought he’d be pinch hitting, but it was big time by him.’
Lanesville starter Matthew Lindsay allowed two base runners through the first two innings. In the third, a single and stolen base by Camden Bender set up an RBI single from Shane Harris to even the score at 1-all.
North Posey, behind starting pitcher Owen Spears, showed plenty of solid glove work. The Eagles struck out only four times but were limited to four hits.
‘We only had four hits, but I feel a lot better about our at bats than that,’ Payne said. ‘We hit it hard.’
North Posey scored five of its runs in the fourth. A single by Reid Smith and a walk by Gaige Kihn got things going. A bunt by Jarrett Motz to Lindsay forced a decision. The pitcher took a shot at Smith at third but was ruled safe to load the bases.
The Vikings cashed in with an RBI single from Spears, a sac-fly RBI off Dalton Cox’s bat then a ground-out RBI from Bender.
‘We felt like we had a good chance to win,’ Payne said. ‘Matthew has pitched against some good teams this year. He ran into some trouble in the fourth but, if I had the decision on who to pitch again, I’d make the same decision. I felt comfortable with the match-up with the way Matthew competes.’
A run-scoring single by Harris, a University of Louisville signee, put the game at 6-1.
‘We knew we were going to a 2A regional as a 1A school, so we knew we had to step it up,’ Lanesville’s Zech Fink said. ‘Our thought process was to work harder and bring a good work ethic. We were prepared to see some good pitchers and good defense.’
Lanesville used Jensin Philpott and Justin Bailey in relief. The duo combined to give up one run in 3-1/3 innings. Bailey worked out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth.
‘We were trying to figure out who to go to after Matthew,’ Payne said. ‘Justin hadn’t warmed up, and Jensin is a scrappy ball player, a sandlot guy. We went to Jensin because he’d fill up the strike zone without a good warm up. He and Justin really kept us in the game.’
Lanesville made some noise in the bottom of the fifth. A single by Kendall set things up. Spears, with one out, walked three straight batters: Philpott, Fink and Isaac Cassabella. Swapping to Hunter Alkire to the mound, Gabe Gowens liked the first pitch he saw and ripped a double to right, plating two.
‘Gabe hit the ball pretty well today,’ Payne said. ‘He smoked one in his first at bat but right at a guy. He had a really good week of practice, so we were looking forward to see what he could do.’
Lanesville later cut the North Posey lead to one, 6-5, when Aaron Lockman grounded out.
During the final two innings, North Posey didn’t allow another base runner. Kyle Lavanchy pitched the seventh for the save.
North Posey added a single insurance run in the sixth on a Chase Christie RBI double.
North Posey finished with 11 hits, including a 3-for-3 day from Harris.
Hits for Lanesville came from Cassabella, Gowens, Kendall and Wernert.
The Eagles had one error, but the defensive side of the field is where Fink, the shortstop, believes the squad improved the most.
‘Our defense is solid,’ Fink said. ‘If our pitchers throw strikes, we felt like we could stop anyone. It’s been amazing to watch over the season how much better we became defensively.’
The competition of regional didn’t rattled the Eagles. In the regional final, North Posey was upended by Southridge, 5-1. Southridge defeated Austin 6-0 in the opposite semi-final.
‘We will play anybody anywhere and compete at any level,’ Payne said. ‘Our record (14-13) may not be great or spectacular, but we are OK with that.’
Fink is part of a group of potential returning players. The Eagles graduate two seniors: Jacob Graves and Chase Blank.
‘I’m looking forward to keeping the team together,’ Fink said. ‘We have a solid group of juniors so, if we can keep together and healthy, we can be tough next year.’
North Posey 001 501 0 ‘ 7 11 0
Lanesville 010 040 0 ‘ 5 4 1
W ‘ Owen Spears, L ‘ Matthew Lindsay, Sv ‘ Kyle Lavanchy.
2B ‘ Gabe Gowens (L).