Difference of a day
La PORTE — Jack Campbell probably best summed up Wednesday’s Chesterton-La Porte baseball matchup.
“Tuesday we win in the last inning, 3-2,” the longtime Trojans’ coach said, contrasting that contest with his team’s mercy-rule win a day later. “Tonight we put the ball in play. We bunted the ball three times in a row. We executed some things. Tuesday we couldn’t execute anything.”
A day after Chesterton outlasted the Slicers by scoring a run in the seventh inning, it took command early on Wednesday.
The Trojans jumped ahead 10-0 after three innings and used Tyler Nelson’s solid outing, sending La Porte to a disheartening, 11-1 five-inning loss at Schreiber Field.
“Two steps forward, two steps back,” Slicers coach Scott Upp said. “We took some steps forward Tuesday we felt with the exception of our hitting. But our defense and pitching was good Tuesday. We’re going to continue to do what we can, continue to work hard in practice.”
Nelson threw four scoreless innings to pick up the victory in his first start of the year for Chesterton (12-5, 8-3 Duneland Athletic Conference). The junior right-hander gave up a mere two hits, earning 10 strikeouts with one walk.
“He hasn’t pitched much,” Campbell said. “He’s basically been a position player. We kind of worked him as a closer. He’s got real good velocity and really an outstanding curveball.”
The Trojans used three straight bunts to tally a run in the second inning. That began a four-run frame, all of the runs scoring with two outs against the Slicers (5-16, 1-11 DAC).
The visitors scored on Garrett Fairbanks’ sacrifice bunt, which catcher Jared Pinkerton threw high to first, allowing Zach McKenna to score from second. After another bunt hit, Logan Schroeder struck out the next two batters. But Max Weller hit a two-run single to right field, and then, Chesterton went ahead 4-0 on a balk.
In the third, the Trojans pushed their cushion to 10-0.
Jake Roof ripped an RBI base hit to left, while Fairbanks touched home on third baseman’s Carson Stalbaum’s fielding error. Jeremy Krantz followed with a two-run single to center, and Zach Westphal added an RBI base hit to left. Shortstop Nick Moser’s fielding error closed the scoring in the inning.
All of Chesterton’s first 10 runs scored with two outs.
“What makes the difference is hitters No. 7, 8 and 9, what they do,” Campbell said. “When your other guys can get on base, move runners and put people in scoring position, you’ve got a chance to be pretty good.”
Starter Logan Schroeder recorded the loss for La Porte, one of four pitchers it used. The junior left-hander surrendered 10 runs on nine hits in 2 2/3 innings. He fanned a pair and walked one. Mason Schroeder, Jackson Mrozinski and Zach Ford also threw.
The Slicers featured a different starting lineup. Brock Lipscomb played center, Gavin Zolvinski at first, Carson Stalbaum at third, Pinkerton catching, and Parker Hill in left.
“We’ve given guys 20 ball games to try and find their way,” Upp said. “At this point in time with the season we’re having, it’s time to give some other people opportunities, not to give up on the season by any means. Opportunities, not only to help us this season, to bode well for us as time goes on.”
Usual starting left fielder Grant Collins was out with an ankle sprain he suffered in last Friday’s game. Upp said Collins will miss at least the next few weeks and will be re-evaluated then, but added he could return for the sectional.
The Slicers plated their lone run in the fifth off reliever Connor Krantz. Pinkerton walked leading off and scored on Carson Crass’s sacrifice fly to center. La Porte left the bases loaded, and struck out 12 times on the day.
Lipscomb paced La Porte, finishing 1-for-1 with a single, a walk and a hit by pitch.
“He’s the most aggressive guy we have in the lineup, by far,” Upp added. “I wish we had some people who had that same aggressiveness. I don’t know if it’s personality or what. On the baseball field, he really has that aggressiveness attitude, which really helps him. You can put him anywhere defensively, he can catch, and he’ll be happy to do it.”
Pinkerton also reached twice with a single and a walk.
Chesterton 11, La Porte 1 (5 innings)
The Slicers’ Brock Lipscomb was on base all three times with a hit, a walk and a hit by pitch.