GCA baseball edged by Lutheran in sectional title game

By J.D. Neiswanger

For the Daily Journal


Greenwood Christian fought and battled Indianapolis Lutheran tooth and nail the entire day in defense of its Class A sectional title, but the Cougars just had one to many fires to deal with and lost a 5-4 heartbreaker on Monday morning.

Lutheran (16-15) was clicking offensively to start the game, getting seven hits in their first nine at-bats, but thanks to great defense by GCA those first two innings only saw two Saints score. The Cougars’ junior starting pitcher, Preston Van Til, picked off one runner in the first inning and senior catcher Colton Flint made a great play on a wild pitch to get another out, stemming the Lutheran momentum in the first two innings.

“They showed up early and they hit and they got on base, but we followed our process defensively and stayed in the game,” GCA coach Ryan Hurley said.

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The Cougars (11-12) got six outs on the basepaths, which helped GCA overcome a huge hitting deficit. Going into the fifth inning, GCA was down 3-0 on the scoreboard despite a 12-2 disadvantage in hits.

After two were out in the fifth, a Cougar rally began with a walk to junior shortstop Caden Camden. Senior Cole Muhlhaser came through with a triple to score Camden, and Flint knocked in Muhlhauser with a clutch RBI single to trim the Saints’ lead to 3-2.

“When we were down 3-0, not a one of us thought it was over,” Hurley said. “We just continued to play and continued our plan. I am extremely proud of them.”

Freshman Will Simons came on to pitch in the fourth inning and managed to get another Saint runner out by throwing behind a runner at second base — which resulted in another Lutheran runner from third trying to score but being tagged out at home. Simons and his teammates also squelched a bases-loaded threat in the fifth when Camden fielded a grounder deep in the hole at short and made a quick heads-up throw to third to get the final out of the inning, just a split second before a Saint runner scored.

The fifth-inning heroics to make the game close were repeated in the top of the seventh. Freshman Owen Schlageter started the inning with a single, and Muhlhauser was clutch for the second straight at-bat with a one-out single to move the tying run to third. After Muhlhauser stole second, it was Flint’s turn to again get an RBI, with his sacrifice fly knotting the game at 3-3. Then, with two outs and a full count, Simons got his first hit of the day, a go-ahead RBI single to score Muhlhauser and it 4-3.

“Owen is a freshman and got us started,” Hurley said. “I am so proud of that kid. Then Cole, Colton and Will stepped up and did what needed to be done, and we got on top. We were very confident going into the last part of the seventh inning.”

However, the Cougars’ momentum wasn’t able to quiet the relentless bats of Indy Lutheran. The Saints were able to score the tying and winning runs on a deep sacrifice fly and a throwing error.

“Today was a great baseball game,” Hurley said. “Two great teams and neither one of us quit.”

GCA says goodbye to five seniors, three of which will play baseball in college: Charlie Overton (Franklin College), Muhlhauser (Manchester) and Flint (Grace College).

“Our seniors are special guys,” Hurley said. “They have a great future whether they play baseball or not.”