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Dragons stop Crawford in 8

Mitchell Sectional First Round

June 04, 2008
What started out as a good day later turned into a nightmare for the Crawford County baseball team as the Wolfpack saw a 3-0 lead evaporate into a 4-3 eighth-inning loss to the Silver Creek Dragons at the Mitchell Sectional.

Crawford County senior Chris Newton parks this shot over the centerfield fence on the second pitch of Crawford's sectional game against Silver Creek. (Photo by Wade Bell)
"Some credit to Silver Creek, they battled in there," Crawford coach Greg Gogel said. "They've got a young squad, and they battled us tough."

The Wolfpack got off to a high-flying start as lead-off batter Chris Newton parked the second pitch of the game over the centerfield fence for a solo home run. Jacob Bullington got on first on the first of two Silver Creek errors. With one out, Jesse Allen singled, then Casey Benham reached first on an error that scored Bullington for the 2-0 lead.

Crawford added to that in the third as Bo Benham was hit by a pitch and then went to second on a passed ball. Allen grounded to second with the hit-and-run on, allowing Benham to fly around third and come home, diving under Silver Creek catcher Justin Tonnies to put Crawford up 3-0.

Silver Creek threatened with a big inning in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Tonnies reached first on a Crawford error. Andrew Gardner doubled, but courtesy runner Glen Elliott, in for Tonnies, was held at third base. Cody Graf was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ryan Smith then hit into a fielder's choice, Crawford forcing at home to keep Silver Creek off the board. Nathan Spears struck out to end the inning, allowing Crawford a deep sigh of relief.

Crawford threatened another big inning in the fifth with the bases loaded, but failed to convert, giving the Dragons some new incentive that Silver Creek turned on in the bottom of the inning.

Following a Matthew Meece walk, Nolan Taylor singled. Chwalek and Kolton Norton both walked, Meece getting the free pass to home for a run. Ean Edwards took the mound for the Wolfpack at that point, and Tonnies got on safely following a Crawford error, Taylor scoring on the play. Crawford turned a double play with Gardner hitting, but committed a second error, allowing Chwalek to score for a 3-3 tie.

"There was an inning there where we got complacent, got kicked around a little bit," Gogel said. "That's where they tied it back up. If we follow through and get a couple of outs, we don't let them extend the inning, we're out of that and we win the ball game."

Rain, which had started earlier in the game, then forced a two-hour delay as the field began to get soft. After the rain let up and the field got more playable, the game went scoreless for the next 2-1/2 innings until the bottom of the eighth.

Silver Creek began with Graf unloading for a double to deep right field. Smith hit into a fielder's choice with Graf tagged out at third. With Nathan Spears at the plate, Smith stole second, then went to third as Crawford lost the handle on the ball. Ean Edwards' next pitch to Spears then got by Bo Benham and Smith charged toward the plate. Benham failed to get ball back to Edwards at home, and Smith slid in for the winning run.

"That's the game," Gogel said. "You look in hindsight, coulda, woulda, shoulda, that's not the way things ought to be. We ought to just play up to our capabilities and all of that stuff is taken care of."

Gogel said the rain delay was not a factor.

"I think it was all right," he said. "Both teams came out refreshed, I think, a little bit. It was halfway decent weather after the rain delay. We got a little refresher and got something to eat. It was getting late in the day and we had been up since pretty early working on stuff."

Crawford finished the season with a 15-10 record and a lot more confidence.

"The confidence came just from those guys working hard," Gogel said. "They know they've put a lot into it, a lot of sweat, blood, tears. When you put all that sacrifice into something, you're going to want to get better. You're going to have confidence. You're going to say, 'Hey, I've worked harder than my opponent. I should win.' I think that's a credit to our guys for doing that. I think that was a big difference."

Crawford will lose several talented seniors, but Gogel said his underclassmen are looking to improve for next year.

"We've got some guys that took some notes on what those guys did, all the positive things they did and to carry it on next year," Gogel said. "It's going to be tough. It's going to be real challenging next year. They've got the mental part of it now, but now we have to work hard on the physical skills. We've got to get better at that end of things, because we were physically extremely talented in that senior class. We've got to work really hard at that."

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