By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
There will be a new Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament champion. Again.
No school has repeated as titlist in the event’s 13-year history, and there have been four different winners in each of the past four years.
Anderson (2-0) is hoping to extend that streak to five.
The Indians continued their early offensive explosion with two more home runs and 11 total hits in a 16-0 rout of defending champion Alexandria on Friday at Memorial Field.
The Tribe has 33 runs, 24 hits and three homers in two tournament games this year. They’ll make their ninth championship game appearance tonight at 7 against Pendleton Heights. Anderson, which played in seven straight title games from 2005 through 2011, hasn’t won a Muller championship since 2007.
“I’m just glad to be in the (title) game,” Indians coach Terry Turner said. “Last year was the first time in a long time we weren’t in the final game. And I didn’t like that feeling at all.”
Despite the frigid wind chill Friday, Turner is feeling much better this time around.
Anderson got five strong innings from Curtis Wilson, who took a perfect game into the fourth and allowed just three hits while striking out eight. His start followed a solid four-inning outing by Ethan Duncan in a 17-1 opening-round win against Anderson Prep on Tuesday.
Alexandria pounded out 15 hits in a 13-0 first-round win against Lapel but managed just two singles and a double against Wilson.
“He was good,” Closser said. “We knew Anderson was going to be good, I’m just disappointed in the way we played. We were tentative at the plate. (Wilson) got behind a lot. We knew a fastball was coming, but we weren’t attacking. And our play in the field was just awful.”
The Tigers (3-2) committed six errors, including four in the fourth inning as Anderson scored seven runs to break the game wide open.
The Indians, meanwhile, were flawless in the field.
Second baseman Zach Sanderson started the play of the day by ranging far to his left, scooping up the ball and flipping it with his glove to shortstop Eddie Boner all in one motion. Boner then made a quick turn at second base and threw to first baseman Drew Laughlin, who made a terrific scoop to complete the double play.
That erased Alexandria’s first base runner and allowed Wilson to face the minimum 12 hitters through four innings.
“That was a pretty play,” Turner said. “I was just glad to get the out at second, and they somehow got them both.”
Anderson was no less impressive at the plate.
Jerred Quartier got the scoring started with a line drive homer to left field in the first inning, and Jake Fox capped it with a one-out grand slam off the scoreboard in left in the fifth. In all, seven Indians had at least one hit, eight scored at least one run and four drive in at least one run.
Quartier was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and missed hitting for just the second cycle in tournament history by a triple.
“It’s pretty surprising,” he said of the Indians’ early run production after hitting outside for just one practice before the start of the season. “We knew we had the talent. But when you don’t have the time hitting outside, it’s impressive how fast it’s come together.”
Fox was 2-for-3, adding an RBI single in the third and a sacrifice fly in the fourth to finish with six RBIs. Designated hitter Jordan Hill — making his first start of the season — was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and sophomore third baseman Tony Bova — making just his second varsity start — also finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Sanderson was 2-for-2, Wilson went 2-for-3 and Laughlin was 2-for-4, with the trio combining to score four runs.
Anderson and Pendleton Heights will against each other for the sixth time in today’s title game. The Indians won the first two meetings in 2001 and 2005, but the Arabians have won the past three — including an 8-4 decision in 2011.
Anderson beat Pendleton Heights last May to win its first sectional championship in 17 years, and the Tribe hopes to end a six-year Muller title drought today.
“It’s very important,” Fox said of bringing the Muller crown back to AHS. “We haven’t been here in awhile. We won the sectional last year, and there’s a lot riding on our backs this year.”