LINDEN – Three Lebanon pitchers combined to scatter six North Montgomery hits, and Caleb Myers ignited the Tigers' bats with a third inning home run off of starting ace Mitch Merica, to hand both he and the Sagamore Athletic Conference leading Chargers their first conference loss of the season.
North Montgomery (14-3, 7-1 SAC) hit the ball sharply most of the game, but stranded eleven base runners on the night.
“We hit the ball hard,” Chargers coach Matt Merica said. “Those balls were hit right at someone. That's just baseball.”
Lebanon (4-8, 3-5 SAC) got stand-out pitching from sophomore Tyler Welborn (WP), who struck out two, and yielded two hits in an inning only once, on his way to the win.
“It was great to see Tyler get the victory,” lauded Rick Cosgray, the Tigers' skipper. “He's had two tough losses. He pitched well, and the defense was solid. We made the routine outs behind Tyler, and he got the win.”
Jackson Bland earned the save for Lebanon, Merica (4-1) suffered his first loss. Baylee Adams added to his State leading doubles count with the first Charger's hit of the contest.
Although most of the outs behind Welborn were routine, one was not. With one out in the third inning, North Montgomery loaded the bases behind Justin Clary's single and Baylee Adams' walk. Jordan Lewis was hit by a pitch, and the table was set for Bryce Frederick. The sophomore hit a shot right at Welborn, who came home for the second out, and catcher Bryce Shearer forced Frederick at first, completing an unusual 1-2-3 double play, killing the best Chargers' rally.
“Bryce hit the ball hard,” Merica mused. “If that ball gets through, we probably score two runs.”
The Chargers (#13) just joined Crawfordsville (#3) in the top 15 of the Indiana Baseball Coaches Association Class 3A state rankings this week, but will likely drop. Still, Merica anticipates a rebound.
“There are 14 games in the SAC. A lot of our goals are still reachable.” Then the coach added, “We've not had to face a lot of adversity yet this season. We'll handle this.”
The loss snaps a ten-game winning streak dating back to April 16. The Tigers and Chargers meet again in four days on neutral ground, traveling up the road to play at Purdue University. North Montgomery will squeeze in a home contest against Rossville at 6 p.m. Wednesday.