The Paper photo by Lori Poteet 
Chase Dowell led the Athenians in their sixth straight win Thursday.
The Paper photo by Lori Poteet
Chase Dowell led the Athenians in their sixth straight win Thursday.

The Crawfordsville baseball team won a hard-earned game against Lebanon to stay undefeated in the conference Thursday night.

It was down to the wire for a struggling Athenian defense after a dropped third strike and an error put two runners on to help the Tigers to their three runs in the seventh inning.

However, the Athenian offense came in and picked up the damage.

“Anytime Lebanon and Crawfordsville get together for baseball it’s always pretty intense,” Athenian coach John Froedge exclaimed. “That’s a tough game and you got to leave your last at bat and your last mistake behind and be ready for your next opportunity.”

That’s exactly what Crawfordsville did.

The Tigers led 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh but a wild pitch and a hard hit up the middle were all it took for the Athenians to make it a tie ball game. Sam Lucas started the inning by getting on from a hit-by-pitch but was followed by two outs. Caden Jones stepped up to the plate and got a key two-out hit to put two runners on. Chase Dowell was also hit by a pitch which left bases loaded for Westin Evans.

A wild pitch scored one and Evans punched a two-RBI single that ricocheted off the pitcher into right field to score the two runs Crawfordsville needed.

“There is a lot to learn in those games, win or lose,” Froedge said. “We could have easily let that one get away, especially when we are down 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh.”

“Caden comes through with the hit and some guys step up,” he continued.

The 4-4 game saw each team putting their best at-bats on the field in the extra innings.

“We didn’t play particularly well down the stretch except we showed a lot of heart in our at bats and how much we battled late,” Froedge commented.

A scoreless eighth inning had one runner left on base for Lebanon and three left on for Crawfordsville. But the ninth inning saw the final nails put in Lebanon’s coffin.

Another Crawfordsville error put Nick Bland on base, who had just made the diving catch to get the Tigers out of the eighth inning. Two sacrifice bunts brought him in after a controversial play at the plate, ruled safe.

But the controversial play did not win the game, as the Athenians fought back again. The ninth started with another hit batsman to put Chase Dowell on. A fielder’s choice from Westin Evans found both runners safe.

After that, it was the perfect at-bats from the next two hitters followed by a wild pitch that won Crawfordsville the ball game. Josh Blackburn laid down the sac to move the runners and Payten Abney hit the sacrifice fly to score the tying run. And the wild pitch lost the game for Lebanon (3-7, 2-5 SAC).

“To win close low-scoring games takes a certain amount of toughness,” Froedge said of his players.

Pitching-wise the toughness gleamed as Chase Dowell pitched five innings, gave up the RBI-triple from Tiger Bryce Shearer in the sixth to be relieved by Trent Johnson, and then finished the game in the eighth and ninth innings.

“Once again, our pitching was fantastic,” Froedge said. “Chase just totally throttled them.”

Dowell went 1-2-3 in the first three innings with four strikeouts. They had two get on in the fourth but he got them out of that to follow it with a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. Johnson relieved Dowell to get the Athenians out of the sixth inning with two strikeouts and a grounder.

“Asked Trent to come in and he got us out of a huge seventh there,” Froedge said.

Johnson gave up two hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks while striking out four. Chase Dowell gave up three hits, two runs (one earned) and two walks, while ringing up five batters.

The Athenians (12-3, 7-0 SAC) were led by Brendan Dowell with two hits and Westin Evans and Payten Abney with two RBIs apiece.

“It’s about team and not ever giving in or giving up and we certainly didn’t do that.”