By Heather Bremer
For The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Isaac Mitchell’s bases-loaded single with two outs in the bottom of the eighth drove in two runs and lifted the Alexandria Tigers to a 9-8 victory over the Frankton Eagles in the third-place game of the Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament on Saturday at Memorial Field.
The game-winner was a bit of redemption for Mitchell, who walked in three Frankton runs in the fifth inning to give the Eagles a 4-1 lead, and a prime example of the resiliency Alexandria showed throughout the night. The Tigers were able to come back once (tying it in the sixth), twice (answering Frankton’s two runs in the seventh with a pair to send it to extras) and then a third time (overcoming an 8-6 Eagles lead in the eighth) to take home the win.
“That’s the kind of group these kids are,” Alexandria coach Jeff Closser said. “They’re resilient, and they like each other. They get along, and they play hard all the time. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Frankton coach Greg Hughes was proud of the way his Eagles fought back in the seesaw battle. He just would have preferred they hadn’t found themselves in that position.
“We didn’t play very good defensively, and it opened up the door for them and they took advantage of it. They made some mistakes, too, and we took advantage of that,” Hughes said. “For the start of the season, the way they battled back, proud of them for that. We just obviously got some things to work on.”
Blaize Kelly, who started on the mound for Alexandria, tallied seven strikeouts through the first three innings.
But Kelly had already thrown 105 pitches in the opening round Tuesday, and by the fourth, he was gassed. He wasn’t alone. On the final day of a weeklong tournament, both teams were forced to mine deep into the bench for fresh arms. Fifteen walks were issued by a bevy of pitchers. And the hurlers got no help from a multitude of errors.
“I thought the first two guys that pitched, (Frankton’s Logan) Weins and Blaize Kelly, they were nails,” Closser said. “They were in the same situation we were in. They ran out of pitching, too. We were throwing guys we aren’t normally going to throw. But you’ve got to give Frankton credit, too. They’ve got a great team, too.”
Alexandria’s Jessie Gossett and Derek Dinehart both went 2-of-5. Dinehart’s night included an double and run scored in the eighth. Frankton’s Matt Kunce, also 2-of-5, and TJ Eads both had triples.
Elwood 13, Lapel 12
The Panthers rallied for nine runs in the seventh inning to stun the Bulldogs and claim fifth place.
“We need hits,” Elwood coach Nick Oldham said of his thinking entering the final inning. “We need baserunners. We’ve just got to find a way to get on base. We started hitting the ball finally. We just started out slow.”
The Panthers could be excused if they began the game feeling fatigued. Elwood won two games Friday night to reach the fifth-place game, and the team didn’t return to school until about midnight Saturday morning.
Some 13 hours later, they were back on the diamond against Lapel.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 12-4 lead due in part to fourth-inning home runs by Dane Mason and Jacob Troxell. Elwood’s comeback was fueled by homers from Drew Wells in the fourth and seventh innings.
Oscar Dimas, who was 3-for-3 and walked twice, scored the winning run with two outs in the seventh when the Lapel right fielder lost a fly ball in the sun and dropped it.
Lapel got two hits each from Dalsen Murdock, Brady Cherry, Todd Sherwood and Troxell.
“There’s no reason to define the season with this game,” Bulldogs coach Brad Lantz said. “You can’t mail it in after four games, you’ve got 25 more.”
Madison-Grant 16, Liberty Christian 1
The Argylls pounded out 10 hits and took advantage of 14 free passes — 12 walks and two hit batsmen — to end their tournament experience with a win.
Caleb Whybrew led off the fourth inning with a solo homer and finished 2-for-4. Austin Purkey went 3-for-3 and scored four runs, Conner Mitchener had a two-run triple and Cameron Myers had a two-run single.
Madison-Grant led 4-1 after two innings but didn’t get its first hit until the third. The Argylls pushed seven runs across in that frame and never looked back.
“It’s been coming,” Argylls coach Bengie Rodriguez said. “We’re getting there. It’s been cold, and we’ve had a lot going on, but slowly but surely we’re getting to where we need to be.”