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Crawford stops No. 5 Paoli, 5-4


Edwards gets winning hit


April 23, 2008
"Is my hair gray yet?"

Those were Crawford coach Greg Gogel's first words after his Wolfpack baseball team went nine innings with Class 2A No. 5 Paoli Thursday afternoon before pulling out a nerve-wracking 5-4 win in a Patoka Lake Athletic Conference game that had important ramifications to it. Both teams were 2-0 in the PLAC standings going into the contest.

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Crawford County's Jesse Allen slides in against Paoli's Logan Laswell for the winning run in the ninth inning of the Wolfpack's 5-4 win over the fifth-ranked Rams. (Photo by Wade Bell)
"First and foremost, Paoli is a good ball team," Gogel said after the win. "They're not going to be 7-1 and fifth in Class 2A, and you don't beat quality teams like they've beat. That's a credit to Wes (Whitfield) and his guys for working hard. Give credit to them for being a good baseball program."

"We have to thank the baseball gods for some of the things," Gogel said. "That being said, our guys, they work on that stuff. It's a credit to their ability to play the game of baseball. At times we kind of lose focus and we could have that stuff all the time. If we would string seven innings together, this would carry on good."

Paoli got on the board first as Seth Evans led off with a single. Evans stole third, then scored when Tyler Taylor grounded out to second.

Crawford quickly got that run back as Zach Sturgeon led off with a double on the first pitch. Paoli then made a throwing error with Jacob Bullington batting, and Sturgeon scored to tie the game at one.

Crawford was working to stay focused after losing to South Central the previous day.

"Coming off a loss yesterday to a team we should have easily beat, we just weren't focused yesterday," third baseman Jesse Allen said. "To come back today and play pretty good ball against a good team, fifth in 2A, for a conference game, now we're 3-0 in conference, it's huge."

Paoli had a good second inning with two runs to take a 3-1 lead. Crawford came back with one run at a time. In the bottom of the third, Bo Benham walked and then stole second and third. During the second steal, Paoli suffered a throwing error, and Benham went home to cut the Crawford deficit to one run.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Rams extended their lead again. With one out, Daniel Starr walked and then Jacob Randolph looped a single. Crawford erred on an Evans bunt, and the Rams led 4-2.

Crawford blanked out in the bottom of the fourth, but scored in the fifth. Chris Newton singled, then went to second and third on two passed balls. Allen went to first on a left field error, and Newton crossed the plate to pull Crawford within one again, 4-3.

Crawford loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh. A sacrifice bunt scored Bo Benham and the game was tied at four. Ean Edwards had a chance to win the game, but he struck out and the game went into extra innings.

"Me and Ean have kind of a saying, 'It all comes full circle,' " Gogel said. "They've been saying baseball is a game of failure and have been saying that for a long time. It's how you respond to that. We're really trying to push that for some of these guys. Tough things are going to happen. You've got to forget about that and turn it around and give it your best shot next time."

In the eighth, Paoli went down in order.

Crawford loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but failed to get the winning run across.

In the ninth the Crawford defense held Paoli scoreless, the highlight of that inning being Allen making a diving catch on a line drive by Evans to steal a hit.

Allen began the bottom of the ninth with a single and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Casey Benham.

Getting a second chance after the seventh-inning strikeout, Edwards ripped a single that went off the tip of Thomas Springer's glove. Allen rounded third and got across the plate for the winning run.

"Coach had a lot of confidence and told me to keep my head up," Edwards said. "There we are, the bottom of the ninth, I think it was a 2-1 count, and I just got a pitch on the inside of the plate. I kept close and turned on it and got lucky with a line drive. It was a fast ball. It was about belt high."

"At first I was a little nervous and then coach looked at me from third base and with that big grin he always gets," he said. "I said, 'You know what? It's my time. I'm a senior. It's PLAC. It's my last go-around. I better make the best of it.' The baseball gods helped me out and lined it out. That's what you get when you play good baseball."

Edwards, however, didn't take all the credit for the win.

"None of this would happen if we didn't have Casey over there pitching like he did," he said. "He pitched a heck of a game."

"These seniors are starting to buy in in what we're saying," Gogel said. "It's scary how good the potential is."

Crawford finished with seven hits and two errors. Casey Benham pitched the full nine innings, allowing just three Paoli hits, striking out five and walking six. The Wolfpack left 13 runners stranded.

Paoli's biggest problems came on the field, as the Rams committed five errors. Joe Goodman struggled at times on the mound, but recorded 10 strikeouts to go along with walks. Paoli left six runners on base.

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Schuler Bauer
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