After fighting tooth-and-nail with top-ranked Churchill all season in the toughest conference at the Class 5A level, the Crater baseball team captured a share of the Midwestern League crown with the Lancers to claim back-to-back conference titles on Friday with a sweep of Eagle Point at Eagle Point High.
The Comets used three big offensive innings and Larson Kindreich secure both victories from the mound for 6-5 and 11-3 wins over the host Eagles in the regular season finale for both teams.
“The league was really tough and it’s hands down the best conference in the state,” said Crater coach Jay Campbell, who captured his fourth conference title and third in the last four years. “To finally get to the end and to be conference champions, you can’t take that away from the kids. We’re happy about it but now we move onto the next part of the season, and that’s the playoffs.”
Crater (22-4) and Churchill (23-3) both finished Midwestern League play with 18-3 records. Although it has no bearing on the league title, the Lancers won the head-to-head matchup with the Comets, 2-1, and will take the state's No. 1 power ranking into the Class 5A state playoffs with the Comets right behind at No. 2.
The Eagles (11-10, 13-12 MWL) will also continue their stellar season after finishing in fourth place. Because the Eagles own a tiebreaker over fifth-place Ashland, the Grizzlies would need to sweep third-place Thurston today to overtake fourth. If the Eagles hold onto fourth, head coach Josh Leedy said his team would host Lebanon; if not they travel to play Dallas.
In the opener, after the Comets generated five runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 6-0 lead, Eagle Point finally got to Crater starter Sebasten Boivin, who was throwing a three-hit shutout until the Eagles scored four in the bottom of the frame.
The Eagles rode their newfound momentum into the seventh inning, stringing together three hits before the Comets handed the ball to Kindreich, who faced runners on first and second with two outs. Kindreich obliged by striking out the Eagles’ Jacoby Jackson on four pitches to preserve the win for Boivin and the save.
Trae Frodge finished 3-for-4, drove in a run and and scored another for Crater, which got two hits and a pair of RBIs from Shay Hall.
Eagle Point’s Dylan Marsh went 3-for-4 with Trae Perkins and Coldin Shopp each tallying a pair of hits in Game 1.
In the nightcap, after the Eagles took a 3-0 lead in the first inning bolstered by Jackson’s two-run single, Crater answered with five runs in the fourth inning. The Comets tacked on six runs in the fifth to pull away for the sweep.
Crater pounded out five hits in the fourth, highlighted by run-scoring triples from Frodge and Kindreich.
Kindreich spelled winning pitcher Matthew Croft in the fourth inning to allow just two hits over four innings to go with four strikeouts.
Kindreich and Nick Bastendorff both went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored in Game 2, while Frodge finished 2-for-3 and scored twice, Jace Godley was 2-for-2 and Sean Bartlett 2-for-4.
Boivin, Kindreich (7) and Bartlett; Johnson, Shopp (6) and Little. W — Boivin. L — Johnson. 2B — C: Boivin.
Croft, Kindreich (4) and Bartlett; Jackson, Marsh (4), Perkins (5) and Little. W — Croft. L — Jackson. 2B — C: Godley. 3B — C: Frodge, Kindreich.