Classic back-to-back DAC baseball games between LaPorte and CP end in split, each by one-run

A Special Report by Mark Smith


CP outfielder Blake Pysh (23) waits to bat and Cal Curiel looks on against LaPorte last Friday. (All photos by Mark Smith)
CP right-hander Gabe Stout struck out 10 LaPorte batters in six innings. The Bulldogs played two one-run games with the Slicers last week.
LaPorte left -hander Jack McGuire (19) pitched a complete game at Crown Point last week. The Slicers held onto first place in the Duneland Conference.
CP's Chris Bachman and LaPorte shortstop Brady Bernth (1) watch for the next pitch in their DAC showdown last week.
CP's Dom Sainato (13) leads off third base late in CP's game with LaPorte on April 23. The Bulldogs never led until the final inning.
CP catcher Clay Wignall ponders his future during the game against LaPorte. Clay would drive in the winning run with a seventh-inning single.
The Crown Point bench eyes the action in the home battle with LaPorte. CP won for the sixth consecutive time at home.
CP coach Steve Strayer watches catcher Clay Wignall get back behind home plate against LaPorte. CP and LaPorte played back-to-back, one-run games last week.
CP shortstop Cal Curiel (12) has his eyes on this LaPorte ground ball last Friday. CP came from behind to win 5-4.
LaPorte's Hayden Lowe (23) leads of first base while Crown Point's Chris Bachman (8) looks for a pick-off throw in the CP-LaPorte game last week. Crown Point has split two games with DAC contenders LaPorte and Lake Central.
CP's Carter Cleve heads for third base ahead of the throw from LaPorte center-fielder Colin Berquist (17) in the fifth inning last Friday. The Bulldogs won to stay one game behind LaPorte in the DAC.
CP boys celebrate in the evening darkness after two, two-out runs in the seventh inning gave Crown Point a dramatic 5-4 victory. (All photos by Mark Smith)

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Revised: April 30, 2021.


Team (Record) / Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
LaPorte (11-3) 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 8 1
CROWN POINT (9-4) 2 1 0 0 0 0 2 5 11 4

Friday, April 23, 2021  - 55 degrees, sunny, 15-20 mph winds in CROWN POINT, IN

LaPORTE (11-3)
Brady Bernth (SS) 1-for-4
Jaden Parkes (LF) 1-for-4
Carson Stalbaum (1B) 0-for-2, 2 HBPs, 2 runs scored
Hayden Lowe (3B) 0-for-3, walk
Gavin Zolvinski (C) 0-for-4
Cam Worthington (RF) 2-for-4, double, 2 RBIs
Kade Flores (3B) 1-for-3, walk
Caden George (DH) 0-for-2, sac bunt
Colin Berquist (CF) 1-for-3

Chris Bachman (1B) 1-for-4, run scored
Cal Curiel (SS) 2-for-3, 2 RBIs, walk, run scored
Carter Cleve (DH) 1-for-4, run scored
Blake Pysh (LF) 1-for-4, run scored
Jayden Phillips (3B) 1-for-3, RBI
Luke Buford (2B) 1-for-2
Mike Kulak (PH) 0-for-2
Gabe Stout (P) 2-for-3, HBP, RBI
Clay Wignall (C) 2-for-4, RB
Dom Sainato (RF) 1-for-3

WP – Chris Bachman (1-0) 1K 0 walks (1 inning)
(starter) Gabe Stout (CP) 10Ks, 2 walks, 3 earned runs
LP (starter) Jack McGuire (2-1) CG, 4K, 2 walks (4 earned runs)

Team (Record) / Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 R H E
CROWN POINT (8-4) 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 2
LaPorte (11-2) 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 11 2

Thursday, April 22, 2021  - 55 degrees, sunny, 15-20 mph winds in LaPorte, IN

Luke Buford (2B) 0-for-6
Dom Sainato (CF) 1-for-4
Angelo Papanos (PH) 0-for-1
Chris Bachman (1B) 0-for-4, 2 walks
Cal Curiel (SS) 1 for 3, RBI
Carter Cleve (DH) 2-for-5, run scored
Gabe Stout (3B) 1-for-4
Blake Pysh (LF) 1-for-4, RBI
Jayden Phillips (3B) 0-of-5
Ryan Hannon (RF) 0-for-3, run scored

LaPORTE (11-2)
Brady Bernth (SS) 1-for-6, run scored
Jaden Parkes (LF) 2-for-6, RBI
Carson Stalbaum (1B) 3-for-4, walk, RBI
Hayden Lowe (3B) 1-for-5
Gavin Zolvinski © 0-for-5
Cam Worthington (RF) 1-for-3, walk, RBI
Kade Flores (3B) 1-for-5, walk
Carter Moses (DH) 1-for-3, walk
Colin Berquist (CF) 1-for-3, walk

WP – Caleb McGuire (3-0) 7K, 0 walks (6 innings)
(starter) Cam Worthington (LP) 7K, 2 walks
LP – Zack Galocy (1-1) 4K, 1walk (2.7 inn)
(starter) Will Pettit (CP) 3K, 0 walks

CROWN POINT (04-23-2021) Last week, I remembered what it was like. What happened in Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) baseball last Thursday and Friday between LaPorte and Crown Point was the way it used to be. Before the lost year of 2020. Before elbow handshakes, stinky hand sanitizers and uncomfortable face masks.

One day after LaPorte squeaked out a 3-2, 12-inning victory over Crown Point on a Thursday in LaPorte County, the Bulldogs trailed the same team 4-3 in the seventh inning at home and it looked like Crown Point was going to lose a conference game for the second day in a row. It was getting cold and dark out behind Crown Point high school and the home team was down to their last out after 7 p.m. on a Friday night.

But senior Bulldog pitcher Gabe Stout lined an RBI single to left field to tie the game 4-4. And then senior catcher Clay Wignall lined an RBI single to left to win the game 5-4 for the Bulldogs. And after over five hours and 19 innings, both CP (9-4) and LaPorte (11-3) walked away with a little something in the standings and the experience of a ton of one-run baseball fun.

Now while neither coach seemed happy with a split of the two key winnable league games, both saw the value in the battles.

“These (close, one run) games are good if you can get some wins out of them,” said CP veteran coach Steve Strayer, “and learn from your mistakes.”

“Yes, we’ve had some tight games this year and fortunately we’ve been on the good side of them four or five times,’ said LaPorte coach Scott Upp. “This is the first time we’ve come out on the bad side. Let's see how we respond. Maybe this is a little character builder for us.”

The Slicers left nine runners on base and scored just once after a three-run first inning.

“We only have ourselves to blame, added Upp. “When you get runners in scoring position, you have to put the ball in play. We didn’t put the ball in play. You have to be tougher at the plate.”

LaPorte led 3-0 after a half inning with Cam Worthington smacking a two-run double. But Crown Point scored two in the bottom of the first on RBI singles by Cal Curiel and Jayden Phillips.

CP tied the game in the second inning on another RBI hit from Curiel. LaPorte had runners at first and third in the fourth inning with one out, but they couldn’t score. A wild pitch scored Carson Stalbaum, putting LaPorte ahead 4-3 in the fifth. But the Slicers, who had won 10 games in a row, left runners at first and second in the seventh inning, thereby setting up CP’s rally.

There was controversy. CP’s Carter Cleve singled and cleanup batter Blake Pysh appeared to strike out. But LaPorte’s Gavin Lovinski was called for ‘catcher's interference,’ putting runners at first and second. Catcher's interference is when the catcher's glove touches the hitter’s bat during his swing. It is a very rare call. LaPorte left-hander Jack McGuire (3-1) then retired Jayden Phillips on a line drive and Mike Kulak on a strikeout.

With two strikes on him, Gabe Stout lined a run-scoring single to left to tie the game 4-4. Maybe two minutes later, catcher Clay Wignall lined a single to center to win the game for the Bulldogs, who charged the field and rolled around on the home grass to celebrate in the setting sun.

Stout was also CP’s starting pitcher. He gave up three runs in the first inning, but he did get through six innings and struck out 10.

“When Gabe is effortless, he’s outstanding,” said Strayer. “When he tries to manipulate things, he’s not. He’s got to keep that under control. This was an emotional game. We had a long game last night. We were a little ticked off. We should have done a little better job offensively. Tonight we did.”

LaPorte (11-3) left Crown Point with a 5-1 record in the DAC. Crown Point (9-4) and Lake Central were at 4-2 at the end of last week.

“It would have been awful nice to come away with this one,” said Upp, whose first place team has yet to face LC in the 14-game DAC schedule. “We know what happens in the Duneland Conference. Coming back after yesterday? Sometimes games are quick. Sometimes they’re long. Yesterday was a long game. But you put on the uniform and play. We got what we deserved today. Disappointing. We got out of a big inning (CP loaded the bases in the sixth).

“But they obviously have a good team, too,” observed Upp. “That’s a good program. Yesterday, we were struggling at the plate “We worked on hitting the curveball and today we were better at it.”

Strayer had a backhanded compliment for his boys.

“I think we’re growing slowly,” he said in the descending darkness after the come-from-behind win. “I would like us to grow a little faster. But we’re growing slowly. Next week, we run into a buzz-saw, because Valparaiso is playing very well.”

‘Playing well’ is in the eye of the beholder and both Upp and Strayer understandably wanted a little more from their teams.

But to some of us who drove by deserted high school baseball fields a year ago, LaPorte and Crown Point battling through five hours and 19 innings last week was a return to the good, old days.

DOG NOTES: Thursday’s game in LaPorte was a 3-hour chess match, which ended in the bottom of the 12th inning when the Slicers’ Colin Berquist singled, stole second and scored on an infield single by Jayden Parkes. It was LaPorte’s 10th win in a row.

LaPorte pitchers Cam Worthington and Caleb McGuire pitched six innings each and struck out a total of 14 Bulldogs. CP’s Will Pettit, Eric Santaguida and Zach Galocy struck out a combined 12, all performing well. Santaguida, a junior right-hander, pitched six scoreless innings. Crown Point pitchers threw 200 pitches in the game.

Crown Point has back-to-back games with Valparaiso Tuesday and Wednesday (April 27 and 28). LaPorte has one DAC loss while Lake Central and Valpo have two after the first four weeks of the season.

The Bulldogs have 6 p.m. night games at home scheduled for Friday, April 30 against Lowell and Friday, May 7 against Munster. McCutcheon, which will visit Crown Point on Saturday, May 22, was 11-1 after 12 games.

Hanover Central, the team CP defeated 2-0 in March, was 12-1 after 13 games and ranked third in Class 3A in the latest state poll. Broadcast Note: Our Internet radio baseball and softball broadcast schedule for is currently in hiatus until further notice.

Sorry about that! (Blame COVID-19.)

2021 CROWN POINT Bulldogs (9-4, 3-2 DAC)
Coach Steve Strayer 28th year (622-230) (18th year at CP)
(28-5) in 2019, (21-8) in 2018, (19-9) in 2017, (19-9) in 2016, (25-6) in 2015
Duneland Athletic Conference games in CAPS
All games begin at 4:30 unless otherwise indicated

March 29 (L) 3-5 at Munster
March 30 (W) 2-0 at Hanover Central
April 3 (L) 4-5 at Highland (8 innings)
April 6 (W) 11-3 LAKE CENTRAL
April 7 (L) 4-10 at LAKE CENTRAL

Jefferson Invitational in Lafayette
April 10 (W) 12-9 Jefferson
April 11 (W) 15-4 Harrison
April 11 (rained out) McCutcheon

April 13 (W) 8-0 MICHIGAN CITY
April 14 (W) 3-2 at MICHGAN CITY (8 innings)
April 17 (W) 11-0 (5 innings) Penn
April 17 (W) 3-2 (8 innings) Penn
April 22 (L) 2-3 (12 innings) at LaPORTE
April 23 (W) 5-4 LaPORTE

April 27 (Tues) VALAPARAISO
April 28 (W) Valparaiso
(note: Valpo has no home field this season.)

April 30 (Fri) Lowell – 6 p.m.
May 4 (Tues) at MERRILLVILLE
May 7 (Fri) Munster – 6 p.m.
May 8 (Sat) Andrean (2) 9 a.m.
May 11 (Tues) PORTAGE
May 12 (W) at PORTAGE
May 14 (Fri) at Hobart
May 18 (Tue) at CHESTERTON
May 22 (Sat) Plymouth - 9 a.m.
May 22 (Sat) McCutcheon - 3 p.m.
May 24 (M) at (St. John) Illiana Christian