Talan Steinway pitched well enough on Monday afternoon to lift Indian Creek to a sectional championship.
Unfortunately for Steinway and his teammates, Kaleb Marrs was even better better.
West Vigo’s hurler yielded just two hits in a complete-game effort, striking out nine Braves en route to a 2-0 victory in the title game of the Class 3A Owen Valley Sectional.
“For us, this was a very good baseball game,” Indian Creek coach Greg Taylor said. “The balls that we did hit hard, we just had no luck finding anything to fall for us, but I can’t take anything away from the group and the effort we put in today.”
For much of the afternoon, the Braves (11-10) stayed zero for zero with a West Vigo team that had won by an 8-0 count when the teams met five weeks ago.
The Vikings (27-3) threatened with two out in the bottom of the second, advancing runners to second and third, but Steinway struck out Hunter Cottrell to escape the frame. In the third, West Vigo again put two on with two out before the Braves got out of it with short pop fly to right field.
Indian Creek continued to play with fire in the fourth, when a walk to the No. 9 hitter helped the Vikings load the bases with two out. Ben Kearns then ripped a line drive up the middle, but Steinway was able to spear it to preserve the scoreless draw — punctuating the play with a football-like spike of the ball as he left the field.
“The top of the lineup was really solid, so I tried to work around them more,” said Steinway, who scattered three hits and seven walks over his 5 2/3 innings while striking out three. “Got a couple of ground balls my way and made plays. The bottom of the order, I had a few more walks than I wanted to, but besides that I pitched a pretty good game.”
The Braves finally gave way in the fifth inning, when West Vigo put runners on the corners with one out and Garrett Pugh lofted a sacrifice fly to deep right that brought Carter Murphy across with the first run of the day.
Bryce Harmon reached on an error to lead off the top of the sixth, but he was thrown out by Viking catcher Jaydon Bradbury on an attempted steal. Marrs later allowed a two-out walk to Brock Bragg but was able to avoid damage by getting Steinway to fly out to center.
Steinway retired the first two hitters of the sixth before walking two in a row. Murphy then greeted reliever Arj Lothe with a single to left field that plated Kearns to make it 2-0.
Blayden Mann delivered a one-out single to bring the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh for Indian Creek, but Marrs responded by recording his ninth strikeout and then getting a soft grounder and a forceout at second to close the door.
Though the loss will sting in the near term, the Braves graduate just two seniors and know they have a bright future ahead.
“I’m going to really miss both Nolan Ankney and Arj Lothe; they’re just great human beings and great leaders of this team,” Taylor said. “Other than that, we’ve got a lot of guys coming back, and we’ve got some younger guys coming up through the program too, so we just continue on where we are. I think we’re going to have a good team the next several years.”