Athenians take down Braves 5-3 for title
Monday, June 03, 2013 6:00 PM
FORTVILLE - It's all about winning this time of year and the Crawfordsville Athenians are two games away from claiming a state title. The Athenians capped off a regional title with a 5-3 win over the Brebeuf Braves at the Mt. Vernon (Fortville) regional.
5-1 win over Vikings propels Athenians to regional final game
FORTVILLE - The Crawfordsville Athenians knew exactly what they needed to do in the regional semifinal in order to advance. They needed to execute on offense and back up their ace Chandler Pursell in the field.
The Athenians did just those things and topped the West Vigo Vikings 5-1.
Pursell threw a complete game, allowing only one run, which came in the final frame.
"I just had to get comfortable and find my groove," said Pursell after the game. "I had to pound the strike zone and let the defense work because they've been great all year and were great again today. I don't go out there really looking to strike people out. I want to let the defense work because I know they'll get it done."
Crawfordsville got the scoring going early with a single by Cam Monroe. After Jordan Jackson was hit by a pitch and Logan Meadows earned a walk, the bases were loaded for Pursell. He drew a walk to put the Athenians on the board in the first inning.
It was more of the same in the second inning. Chase Justus singled to left field and was advanced when Nick Page successfully bunted with two strikes. After a Monroe single and stolen base and a walk by Jake Zurawski, the Athenians broke it open with a Jackson double that blazed over the left fielder's head and plated a pair of runs. The Athenians were unable to score again until the fifth.
Pursell continued to work himself out of jams. The first and only time that Crawfordsville retired West Vigo in order was the fourth, but the Vikings could not score until the seventh.
In the fifth, Dane Baldwin led things off with a single and Pursell reached on a throwing error while attempting to bunt pinch runner Sam Page over. A single by Shad Conrad sent Page across and Nick Page knocked in pinch runner Casey Reeves.
The line Viking run came from a Brandon Berhinger single in the seventh after a lead off walk.
"Everyone has contributed lately," said Athenians head coach John Froedge. "Chandler has a lot of experience and got comfortable. Offensively we did what we had to do against a good ball club."
The win was the 24th of the season for the Athenians and earned them a spot in the regional final game against Brebeuf Jesuit. The Braves defeated the Danville Warriors 5-0 in the first game of the regional Monday afternoon.
Connor Smith got the start for the Athenians and was dominant for most of the game. Smith struck out 10 Braves and limited them to one run before the seventh inning.
"I felt good and it felt good to have the defense behind me. They played great and allowed me to throw strikes," said Smith.
The Athenians got the scoring going early once again. Cam Monroe kicked off the bottom of the first with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Zurawski. A Jordan Jackson ground out moved him to third and Monroe came across on a wild pitch to give Crawfordsville an early lead.
Smith kept the Braves off balance and off the scoreboard for the first four innings. Brebeuf finally got things going with a lead off walk issued to Clay Farren. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and stole third after a strikeout. A Crawfordsville error put runners on first and third. The runner on first was off with the pitch and prevented a double play, allowing Farren to score and tie the game.
Crawfordsville wasted no time taking the lead back. Monroe was hit with the first pitch of the bottom of the fifth inning. Zurawski intended to sacrifice him over, but reached on a throwing error to put two on with no outs. Jackson also attempted a sacrifice, but the pitcher threw the bunted ball to third base, where Monroe reached safely before the throw. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Meadows drove the ball into right center where it was caught for a sacrifice fly. Zurawski and Jackson advanced on a throwing error by the center fielder. An RBI ground out by Dane Baldwin made it 3-1 and Jackson scored to cap the inning when Chandler Pursell reached on an error.
While the Athenians committed four errors, they were able to limit the Braves to three runs. On the other hand, Crawfordsville capitalized on three Brebeuf errors to the tune of five runs.
"We were a bad hop (a grounder in the seventh) to winning 5-1, 5-1," explained Athenian head coach John Froedge. "When you win championships it's about the intangibles and the cohesiveness of the team. The guys are really focused on winning right now. We made a couple of errors but never lost composure. We're very resilient and don't let things bother us."
The Athenians tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Nick Page got things going when he was hit by a pitch. A double by Monroe put runners on second and third with one out. Zurawski plated Page with an RBI ground out before the end of the inning.
Brebeuf was able to scrap two runs across in the top of the seventh with a runners reaching on an error, single and hit batsmen to load the bases. Joey Perkins knocked two runs in. Pursell came on to get the final out and the save. He struck the final batter of the game out. Smith worked 6 2/3 innings and struck out 10 Braves. The junior allowed only two walks.
The Athenians move to 25-10 on the season and will travel to either Jasper or Plainfield on Saturday. More details regarding the semi state game will be available later in the week. Brebeuf's season ends at 13-13.
"Probably the most enjoyable part of coaching is watching the guys celebrate after these victories," closed Froedge.