By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Alexandria’s Blaize Kelly was sensational in his season debut on the mound, Anderson’s hefty lineup put on a show in its first inning of the spring and the Tigers and Indians advanced to the Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament semifinals with lopsided victories Tuesday at Memorial Field.
Kelly tore through a sturdy Lapel lineup in the nightcap, allowing just one hit and striking out 12 in a 13-0 Alexandria victory.
“Not bad for his first time out this year, huh?” Tigers coach Jeff Closser said. “His pitch count was a little higher than we wanted, but it’s hard to take a kid out when he’s bulldogging like he was.”
Anderson got the evening started on an explosive note by scoring nine runs in the bottom of the first inning. Tony Bova and Julius Neal drove in two runs each in the frame, and 13 Indians came to the plate in all during the frame.
The inning included a lead-off double by Jerred Quartier on a blooper into shallow right field and an RBI triple by Eddie Boner. Peyton Newsom, Drew Laughlin and Curtis Wilson also had RBI singles before the frame was closed.
The big inning helped pave the way for a 17-1 Anderson victory against tournament newcomer Anderson Preparatory Academy.
“I’m pleased,” Indians coach Terry Turner said. “(APA) made some plays, but we hit the ball well. Defensively, we made the plays we were supposed to make, and I thought Ethan (Duncan) pitched well.”
Duncan did not match Kelly’s later heroics, but he put together a nice line of his own — allowing just one run and one hit with four strikeouts in four innings.
The Jets actually got on the board first with a two-out triple by Zach MacGilvray in the top of the first inning. But Duncan and Quartier, who pitched the fifth in relief, combined to retire the next 13 APA hitters.
The game’s most memorable blow was struck by Newsom, who launched a high fastball well over the 400-foot marker and onto the hill behind the fence in straightaway center field.
Newsom, who finished the day 2-for-4 with four RBIs, hit 10 home runs last season as a junior with seven of them coming at Memorial Field.
“It was a high pitch, and he just kind of flicked his wrist at it,” Turner said. “Can you imagine what’s going to happen when he actually turns on one and flows all the way through? It may not stop for a year.”
Boner went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs for the Indians, Quartier was 2-for-4 and Neal and Jake Fox each finished 2-for-2, with Neal adding three RBIs.
Kelly added some offensive fireworks of his own to his standout pitching performance in Game 2. He went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs.
The Tigers took advantage of four Lapel errors to score four runs in the third inning and break the game open.
Alexandria’s Jake Fox was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Derek Dinehart was 3-for-4, Jesse Gossett went 2-for-4 with an RBI double, Drew Johnson was 2-for-3 with an RBI single and Owen Young drove in two runs.
“We’ve been swinging the bats well all spring,” Closser said. “We knew coming in that was going to be our forte. We’re not going to hit a lot of long balls, but we will hit a lot of line drives and find the gaps.”
Anderson and Alexandria will meet in the semifinals Thursday at 5 p.m. at Memorial Field.
APA will face Elwood at 6:30 p.m. today in a consolation game at Pendleton Heights, and Lapel battles Madison-Grant in a consolation bracket contest on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Pendleton.