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The Athenian Baseball Invitational always hosts a competitive field and Saturday was no different. The host Athenians brought their perfect 7-0 record and No.5 Class 3A finish in what was officially their home opener of the season. Griffith, Norwell and Franklin completed the four-team group and CHS would face the Grizzlies in Game 1. Plenty of professional eyes and scouts were in attendance as Franklin bolstered three Division I outfielders, including the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect for the Class of 2023 in Max Clark.
In the end, the Athenians went 1-1 on the day and secured a second-place finish beating Franklin 8-6 in the opener, before losing 5-1 to Norwell in the league game.
CHS steals the late lead for the declaration victory
At first it looked like CHS were going to play a long game. A series of passed balls, walks and an Athenian error took the Grizzly Cubs to a 3-0 lead before Crawfordsville’s offense even took a hit. Starting in the third inning, Crawfordsville found their groove at the plate and in the bottom of the fourth would score three runs to take a 5-4 lead thanks to three infield singles, a Franklin error and a big two-run brace by Austin. Motz.
The Grizzly Cubs would react right away and briefly regain the lead before CHS tied the score at 6-6 before the sixth. Bryce Dowell, who started a relief for CHS, came out of a goal-laden traffic jam in the top of the sixth to give the Athens attack a chance to regain the lead. They took full advantage of the opportunity as Cale Coursey delivered what would be the game-winning single at two RBIs as the Athenians secured a high-profile victory against a talented side.
“There’s no doubt the way we kept fighting back and executing late in the game to give ourselves a chance was great to see,” Crawfordsville coach Brett Motz said. “We didn’t start the way we wanted, and there was probably a bit of tension and excitement for the day, but we can use that as a learning experience for some of our bigger games later in the game. the season. We want the team to earn their 21 outs against us and we were just able to get the ball in play and work our way on base and that set the stage for some of our biggest hits that have us allowed to be able to win.”
CHS hit 11 hits as 10 different Athenians had one hit in the win. Coursey got the nod on the mound and after that shaky start, settled in to pitch four innings where he allowed just two hits and two earned runs (his first earned runs of the season) while still in subtracting six. Dowell in relief pitched two innings and Kale Wemer came in and closed the door to recover the stoppage.
“For Bryce to get out of that jam and keep them from scoring was a big piece of why we won today,” Motz said of his sophomore pitcher.
Clark showed why he’s No. 2 in the overall nations standings on the first pitch of the game, he put it into right field. He finished the game against the Athenians 1-2 with one walk and one shot per throw. His speed and arm were also on point as he stole three bases and nearly knocked out CHS’ Dylan Farley on a sacrifice steal to center field.
Crawffordsville haven’t really faced much adversity in the first seven games this season, so the Athenians’ win was a signing for the program, not just because of the team it was against, but also of how the CHS eliminated him. . As Motz tries to make sure his guys don’t get too excited after the win, he realizes that some wins mean a little more than others and this one against the Grizzly Cubs.
“Our guys understood that this game was going to be a little bit more exciting and more meaningful,” he said. “Even if you try to get the guys to stay consistent with their approach, it’s good to have games like this because maybe that experience can be used to win a conference title, a section or another big tournament match. You want guys to find out how their bodies are going to react in big games and be able to adapt and overcome.
Athenian bats cool down championship loss
While it looked like all was well for Crawfordsville’s offense against Franklin, the exact opposite happened in the championship game against the Norwell Knights.
The CHS were simply unable to get a consistent pace on offense until it was too little too late. Their only run came in the bottom of the seventh as Coursey brought home Austin Motz. The Athenians had their chances in several innings to be on the board but left the bases loaded in both the second and third innings but could not find the hit in time.
The Knights scored singles in the first and third innings to lead 2-0 as starting pitcher Alex Kellerman kept his team in the game. Kellerman would pitch four innings allowing just two hits, three earned runs while striking out four and walking five.
Where Norwell opened the game was in the top of the fifth as they added three more points to their lead. Cade Shelton earned the mound victory for the Knights as he pitched five three-hitter innings, with no baseball run while walking four and striking out six Athenian batters.
“He competed well today and did a good job for us,” Norwell coach Dave Goodmiller said of the second-year starter. “The kids came together today in those two games and really pulled through and we used that as a kind of bonding experience. Now is the time of the season when you try to take it out and get the little things right as we head towards the middle of our schedule.
The Athenians’ loss marks their first loss of the season as they finished the day with an 8-1 aggregate record on the season. While CHS wanted to stay undefeated and bring home their own Innovation Trophy, Motz has bigger and loftier goals for his team than winning every game they play.
“Very few teams in high school baseball history have gone undefeated,” he said. “It’s a long season and we’re going to learn from that and we’ll always be positive and we’ll have the good energy we’ve had all season. We’re a pretty good team and it’ll be a tough team to beat every time.
CHS will be back in action on Tuesday for their second Sagamore conference series of the season as they hit the road to take on Tri-West.