Lancers misfire on first title shot
UPLAND, Ind. – Grace’s baseball team missed a chance to claim a conference championship on Tuesday, falling to Marian 5-2 in the Crossroads League Tournament.
The Lancers, the No. 8 seed in the tournament, could have claimed the title with a win.
But Grace has another chance and will play a winner-take-all championship game on Wednesday against Marian at 3 p.m. The contest will be played at Taylor’s Winterholter Field.
Grace won the first three games of the double-elimination tournament to secure a spot in the title game. Marian, who was bounced to the losers’ bracket by Grace on Monday, will be playing its fourth game in three days on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s game was scoreless after three innings of work. Starting pitcher Houston Haney kept Marian off the scoreboard for the first four innings, allowing the Lancers (17-26) to take the lead.
With one swing, Sam Newkirk put Grace ahead. The freshman launched a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth over the left field fence, producing the first run of the game.
The Knights (29-19) responded immediately; Marian pushed a run across in each of the next three innings to claim momentum. After the top of the seventh, Marian owned a 5-1 lead.
The Lancers had chances to keep pressure on Marian, notably a triple from Ethan Brooks and a double by Haney.
In the bottom of the seventh, Grace loaded the bases with Brooks’s triple and a pair of hit batsmen. But the threat was ended with a strikeout.
The eighth saw Grace get back on the scoreboard. Newkirk reached base after a fielding error, and he moved to third with a wild pitch and a ground ball. Chris Griffin then drove him in with an RBI single through the infield.
Brooks led off the ninth with a single to try to spark a rally. Haney then belted a high fly ball to left field that was caught just shy short of the warning track. Grace’s final two batters were retired with strikeouts.
Grace was outhit 10-7 in the contest, and both sides left seven baserunners stranded.
Brooks hit 2 for 4, and Newkirk was 1 for 4 with two runs and an RBI.
The Lancers’ defense, despite committing two errors, made several spectacular defensive plays in the game. Mitchell Enyart and RJ Snyder made back-to-back acrobatic stops on the left side of the field to keep Marian from scoring more.
Jordan Noska (1 2/3 inning) and Ike Peterson (1 inning) both allowed one hit and no runs to score in their relief appearances from the mound.