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.

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.