April 10, 2019The Crawford County Wolfpack baseball team got its season off to a good start last Tuesday afternoon when it shredded the visiting Bulldogs of Cannelton. Crawford County coach Isaac Bowles said it was a good way to get the season underway, against a school that, despite its small size, has had a strong baseball tradition.
"It was a good win," Bowles said. "I think sometimes when people see a small, 1A school like Cannelton, they just assume they were outmatched, but that's a pretty good Cannelton team. I told those boys they would win some ballgames this year."
"They've been down a little bit in recent history, but they have some talent and they have some pitching. They will win some games. That pitcher they've got, we're not going to see that many pitchers that throw faster than what he does."
The Bulldogs went three up and out in the top of the first inning, then Crawford County responded by putting a run on the board.
With one out, Dalton Stout singled. Aaron Madley followed by putting Stout across the plate when he smacked a long double. Max Murphy was also put on base when he was hit by a pitch, but the Wolfpack would only see the one run.
Cannelton got two runners on to start the second inning, one on a walk to Bryce Faulkenburg and moments later when Christian Hogan reached first base on an error. From that point, the Crawford County defense held as the Bulldogs grounded out twice.
The bottom of the second was Crawford County's best offensive effort of the game. With one out, Reese Sturgeon was hit by a pitch and stole second. With two outs, Preston Coleman singled to score Sturgeon for a 2-0 lead. It didn't stop there as Stout reached first on another Cannelton error that also scored Coleman. Madley then fired a shot over the left field fence for two runs and a 4-0 lead.
Clayton Sauer ran to first for an infield single, and Murphy walked. Noah Talley followed with another infield single that scored Sauer. Zach Coleman was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Murphy scored on a passed ball, and the Wolfpack lead ballooned to 7-0.
"I thought our boys did a good job of jumping out on them early," Bowles said, "which is what you have to have in a game like this. If you don't and you let them hang around, it was going to be a dogfight at the end. I heard their coach talking in the dugout about 'What if?' later on the in game, and I thought to myself, 'You don't want to laugh at that. He's right.' They're one or two plays away of them being in the ballgame. But we did a really good job of getting the extra hit with two outs or making the play there to stop the bleeding."
In the top of the third inning, the Bulldogs went three up and out, and Crawford County followed with another run.
Clayton Sheckells began the bottom of the inning with a single to right field and was moved to second by a sacrifice bunt by Preston Coleman. Sheckells stole third then scored as the Bulldogs committed a throwing error for an 8-0 lead.
The fourth and fifth innings went scoreless for both teams.
Cannelton finally got on the board in the top of the sixth. David Reed singled against Hunter Faulkenburg, who relieved starting pitcher Christian Carlton, and stole second. With one out, Rafe Garrett was hit by a pitch, and the pair of base runners later advanced on a passed ball. Reed tried to break for home but, instead, was caught in a rundown, eventually being tagged at home. Garrett, however, got to score when Logan Marshall singled. Marshall, however, found himself a victim of Crawford County's defense, getting picked off for the third out with an 8-1 Crawford County lead.
"We executed perfectly on the rundown," Bowles said. "Hunter hadn't seen a rundown all year in practice, and he walked straight at the kid and we made an easy out. That's the kind of stuff, as a coach, you appreciate, because it just shows you know the kids pretty well.
"I cannot take credit for that rundown because we had not practiced that with Hunter in that position. But he did an excellent job from last year and everything else. As a coach, you have to feel pretty proud as a coach with the way they put it to them and putting it to them and never let them be in the game."
Crawford County wanted to end the game courtesy of the 10-run rule in its next at-bat. Madley was hit by a pitch, and Sauer went to first on a Cannelton error. Murphy followed with a single to score Madley and both advanced a base on a passed ball to Noah Talley, who then walked to load the bases. Sauer scored on a passed ball to Zach Coleman, who then singled to score Murphy and end the game, with the Wolfpack getting the 11-1 win.
"You've got to hope that the kids stay with it and they keep focusing on their craft," Bowles said.
The Wolfpack finished with 10 hits, with Madley and Murphy getting two each. Carlton struck out four Cannelton batters and walked one, and Faulkenburg struck out one and hit one. Crawford County had one error for the six innings and left four runners on base.
"Our lineup has the potential to be very solid," Bowles said. "We have a lot of guys that, when they go 0-for-2, they start putting their head down, but we have guys that can hit a home run at any given time. In Crawford County history, you don't have a whole lot of teams that have five or six guys that can hit home runs."
"I think we had two or three hits to the opposite field by different guys," he said. "A couple of guys had multiple hits to the opposite field. We were still hitting it. Aaron turned on one and hit it 375 feet. To see that in the first game, it makes you excited for the rest of the season."
It was Carlton's first time on the mound since junior high school, and Bowles was impressed with what he saw in the senior.
"Christian hasn't thrown for four years," he said. "The last time he played was in eighth grade, and he was their best pitcher in eighth grade, but he decided to run track in high school. This year, he decided his senior year he wanted to come out, and I welcomed him with open arms. The boys welcomed him with open arms."
"Hunter did OK," Bowles said of Faulkenburg. "Hunter just needs reps. His command was a little whacked tonight, but he did a good job of every time that he did throw one high, or if he missed outside, he did a really good job of bringing it back and getting that arm out front and getting it back in the zone."
Cannelton had three hits with Marshall getting two of those. Garrett, from the pitching mound, struck out five, walked one and hit three Crawford County batters, and Travis Throckmorton struck out two, walked two and hit one.
"I think that our two-strike hitting could be a little bit better, but that's hard for me to harp on when it's your first game and your first live action," Bowles said. "These kids have seen live pitching but off of each other in a simulated game, not in front of fans.
"But I think we were very, very timid in two-strike situations. I think that's why you saw a lot of looking strikeouts. I think we had four. It's not a lot, but too many for us … If we could do anything, it would be more comfortable in two-strike situations, because those boys just need to be confident and go up there and swing it."
Cannelton 000 001 - 1 3 3
Crawford County 161 003 - 11 10 1
W-Christian Carlton. L-Rafe Garrett. 1B-Stout (CC), P. Coleman (CC), Sauer (CC), N. Talley (CC), Sheckells (CC), Marshall (Cnl) 2, Murphy (CC) 2, Reek (Cnl), Z. Coleman (CC); 2B-Madley (CC); HR-Madley (CC). Records-Crawford County 1-0, Cannelton 0-1.