An Edinburgh rally fell short in the bottom of the seventh inning and Indianapolis Lutheran held off the host Lancers, 5-3, in a Class A sectional championship game on Friday afternoon.
It was the second time in three years both the Lancers and Saints met in the sectional finals, with Edinburgh taking the win last time they met, 17-7, two years ago. The Lancers nearly did it again, loading the bases with two outs in the seventh inning before Lutheran pitcher Brooklyn Barger, who surrendered three singles in the inning, was able to register a game-ending strikeout.
The loss ends the Lancers’ season with a 14-13 record, while Lutheran (18-7) continues on to face North Decatur in a regional contest next Tuesday.
“We had plenty of opportunities. We just couldn’t convert them, especially at the end,” Edinburgh coach Ben Taylor said. “We did what we had to do. We loaded it up and gave ourselves a shot.”
Edinburgh junior MacKenzie Bieker was on the mound against Barger, and both came up with excellent performances on the mound and at the plate.
Bieker struck out 11 batters, while Barger fanned 13 Lancers.
Each pitcher had two hits against the other, with Bieker hitting a single and double.
The big blows were in the third and fourth innings for Lutheran, though the first home run was controversial.
Saints shortstop Caitlyn Brooks hit a 2-2 pitch to left field, where the ball appeared to hit the foul pole and ricochet off to the left, which would indicate a foul ball. After a brief meeting among the umpires, the home run stood, giving Lutheran a 1-0 lead.
“I didn’t see it from where I was at,” Taylor said.
The next big shot was by Lutheran first baseman Zoe Sondag, who rocketed a shot to right center with two on to extend the lead to 4-0.
Edinburgh countered in the fifth. With a runner on, senior catcher Gracie Crawhorn sent a Barger offering to almost the same spot as Sondag’s to make it 4-2.
Lutheran added an insurance run in the top of the seventh before Edinburgh put the fear of losing in their minds.
In the last of the seventh, Crawhorn singled with one out and took second on an error. Bieker’s single scored Crawhorn to send the Lancer fans into a frenzy. With two out, Kyah Streeval hit her third single of the game to send Bieker to third. A walk loaded the bases, but then Barger put out the fire with a strikeout and Lutheran had its title.
“It was a game of home runs,” Taylor said. “I thought (MacKenzie) pitched a great game and was glad Gracie got a home run.”
Streeval led the Lancers with three hits, while Bieker and Crawhorn had two each.
Both teams left a lot on the bases as Edinburgh stranded eight, while the Saints left 10 on.
Edinburgh loses just one player, but it’s a big loss as four-year starter Crawhorn played her last game in a Lancer uniform.
It was quite a year for Crawhorn, who batted .600.
Taylor will be returning the rest of his starters, plus some solid utility players. As a result, the Lancers should continue to be a top contender for the Mid-Hoosier Conference title and make a return to the sectional championship.
“We had nine freshmen this year, six of which played the majority of the season,” Taylor said. “They did a nice job.”