Crater clips Lancers for MWL split
Nothing has come easy this season for the Crater baseball team, so why would a doubleheader with Midwestern League nemesis Churchill be any different Friday?
By the end of the night, the Comets had one dramatic victory to hang their hats on, but not a sweep that seemed in their grasp at Anhorn Field in Central Point.
Crater came up big with a nine-inning comeback win in the opener, 6-5, but the Comets’ fifth one-run ballgame in 11 outings didn’t go their way in Game 2 as Churchill was able to carve out a 4-3 triumph to split the twin bill.
“It seems like we kind of take two steps forward and then we take a step back,” said Crater head coach Jay Campbell. “I’m pretty frustrated, actually, with the outcome today. We just didn’t play good baseball today and when you don’t bring your best every game, we’re not good enough to still win those games. We just didn’t do enough things correctly to win both games.”
What Crater (5-6, 4-2 MWL) was able to accomplish was some high drama in the opener, with sophomore Hayden Kindreich’s single plating senior brother Damon Kindreich with the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The score remained tied at 5-all when Churchill (3-8, 2-4) appeared to gain the upper hand in the top of the ninth by putting runners on the corners with no outs. Relief pitcher Ryan Hill was then able to induce a flyout to Hayden Kindreich in right field, who promptly delivered a strike to his older brother at the plate to throw out a Lancer runner who had tagged up for a double play.
Hill then recorded a strikeout to end the threat.
“Obviously, that was a huge play,” said Campbell. “(Churchill) had the first two guys reach and we’re scrambling and trying to cut their runs. Ryan gets a flyball to right field and Hayden makes a great throw and Damon makes a nice tag at the end of it.”
“That kind of made the momentum turn our way in the bottom of the ninth and really picked everybody up,” added the coach.
In the bottom of the ninth, Damon Kindreich reached safely on a throwing error by the third baseman. Hill attempted to put down a sacrifice bunt but the ball went straight to relief pitcher Ty Weiskind, who was able to wheel and get the lead runner at second base but saw the play negated a second later when a relay throw for a potential double play by the shortstop sailed wide of first base and allowed Hill to move into scoring position at second.
After a wild pitch advanced Hill to third base, Weiskind was able to strike out Hayden Kindreich but could not get a fateful third out as junior Josiah Hearne laced a walk-off single to right-center to cap Game 1.
“That’s a big deal,” Campbell said of Hearne’s clutch hit. “He’s a good kid who works hard and does things correctly and it was just good to see him rewarded. He got a pitch elevated that he put a good swing on and it was a no-doubter basehit to end the game.”
Caleb Randolph finished 4-for-5 with two runs for Crater in the opener, while Tyler Mikel was 2-for-3 with one run to lead the Lancers in a game that featured a combined nine errors.
The nightcap started well for Crater, which scored all three of its runs in the bottom of the first inning to go up 3-1. Damon Kindreich supplied an RBI single to highlight the early onslaught, but the offense kind of fizzled thereafter for the Comets.
“We got a little complacent at the plate and their kid (starting pitcher Cole Ayres) kind of settled in after that and cruised through the next few innings,” said Campbell. “And then they did a good job of scraping some runs across and putting pressure on and got the hits when they needed them and we didn’t.”
Still, Crater had a chance to pull even as in the opener in the bottom of the seventh after Kellen Rapp reached on an infield single to lead off the frame.
Another sacrifice bunt situation went awry moments later as Randolph’s effort went straight to reliever Roman Dean to nab the lead runner at second base. Randolph tried to move into scoring position a few pitches later with Damon Kindreich at the plate, but was thrown out stealing second on a high throw by catcher Andy Womack that was nabbed on a leaping effort by the shortstop and resulted in a tagout as Randolph remained standing up into the bag instead of sliding.
“It was kind of an awkward play,” said Campbell. “The throw was up the line and their kid was up the line about 7 feet. If he would’ve slid, he might have been 10 feet short of the base. It was an awkward play you don’t see very often. He got caught between trying to slide and going around and obviously he tried to go around and it didn’t work out.”
On the next pitch, Damon Kindreich lined a shot that was snared by the first baseman for a game-ending out.
Brandon Tibbils led Crater by going 2-for-4 with one run scored.
Jensen, Weiskind (7) and A. Womack; Randolph, Tibbils (6), Hill (8) and Rapp, D. Kindreich (6). W — Hill (1-0). L — Weiskind. 2B — CH: Carson; C: Hill, Randolph 2.
Ayres, Dean (6) and A. Womack; H. Kindreich and D. Kindreich. W — Dean. L — H. Kindreich. 2B — CH: Weiskind, D. Womack; C: Tibbils 2.
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