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Crawford County junior Brayden Barron dives in head-first to score the winning run in the eighth inning against Paoli catcher Brett Balsmeyer in the Wolfpack’s 7-6 victory. Photo by Wade Bell

Barron lifts Crawford past Paoli in 8


April 25, 2012
Crawford County junior Brayden Barron came to the mound in relief against visiting Patoka Lake Athletic Conference-rival Paoli in the seventh inning, hit his first extra-base hit in the eighth and then scored the winning run as the Wolfpack held on to win a 7-6 nail-biter Thursday afternoon. The win was an important one for the Wolfpack who improved their conference record to 3-0.

"It was a great pressure game," Crawford County coach John Atkins said. "What I'm most proud of is we bounced back from an awful performance yesterday against South Central. Give Paoli all the credit in the world. Give their coach, Henry Cruz, so much credit on the improvement of that team from what we've seen over the past couple of years. Hats off to them. That's outstanding, and that's the way I like it. That's the way a PLAC conference baseball game should be."

Crawford County got on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Brandon Cate led off with a single and moved to second on a balk by Paoli pitcher Breck Eubank. With two outs, Kyle Aldridge singled to score Cate for a 1-0 Wolfpack lead.

Crawford County had a big second inning, scoring four runs. Following a Remi Griswold single, Barron walked, and, with two outs, Crawford County lit up its bats, as Isaac Bowles rapped a single to score both runners. Bowles, who advanced to second base on the throw home, went to third on a passed ball to Eric Harned, who then singled to score Bowles. Kyle Aldridge singled, and he and Harned then put down a double steal. With Patrick Allen batting, a passed ball allowed Harned to score, and the Wolfpack had a 5-0 lead.

Paoli finally got on the board with two runs in the top of the fourth. Eubank doubled with one out and later scored as Seth Hall rapped a two-out double. Brett Balsmeyer singled, but a Crawford County error allowed Hall to score, closing the gap to 5-2.

In the bottom of the inning, the Wolfpack got one of those runs back. With one out and Brandon Cate on second after a steal, Bowles singled to move Cate to third. With Harned at bat, Bowles faked a steal and got caught in a rundown. That allowed Cate to score, pushing Crawford County's lead to 6-2.

Paoli began its rally in the sixth inning with four consecutive singles, scoring two runs in the process to close the gap to 6-4.

The game got more interesting in the top of the seventh when the Rams scored two more runs to tie. Following walks by Devin Durbin and Garrett Shepard, Garrett Sanders singled to score Durbin. At that point, Barron came to the mound, relieving Harned. Eubank got an infield single to score Shepard and the game was tied at 6.

Crawford County failed to score in the bottom of the inning, despite having two runners on, and the game went into an eighth.

"(Harned) stayed mentally strong and battled through," Atkins said. "He had some walks here and there that we'd like to eliminate, but, on the whole, Eric was outstanding."

Paoli got two runners on in the top of the eighth but failed to convert the runs, giving Crawford County a last chance for the win.

Barron led off with a long double that bounced off the fence and was moved to third by a sacrifice bunt by Alex Gilmore. Cate then grounded to Eubank on the mound, who first turned to hold Barron at third. After Eubank turned to make the throw to first base, Barron broke for home. Sanders made the throw home after the force, and Barron went into home head-first, sliding his hand under the tag and touching home to give Crawford County the 7-6 win.

"It was a good strategy by coach Cruz, bringing all those infielders in," Atkins said. "Brandon hit it hard, right back at the pitcher. I told Brayden before that, from what I saw in pre-game warmups, as soon as they went to first I was going to challenge that first baseman. The throw was not awful, but it wasn't good enough to get Brayden because he's so speedy. He made a good slide on the back side of the plate, and that was the ballgame."

"He said to make sure they throw it to first before you go," Barron said. " 'After that, if you think you can make it, go.' They threw it to first, so I went, and I was hoping I was getting there. When I saw the ball coming in, I saw the back of the plate wide open, so I knew I could throw my arm across, and I went."

Barron's double beforehand was the Wolfpack's only extra-base hit.

"They threw me a fastball right down the middle of the plate, and I was ready," he said. "I was hoping for that when I got up there, and I just pounded it."

Crawford County finished with 10 hits, led by Aldridge's three and Bowles' two. Harned struck out two batters and walked four, while Barron walked one and hit one. Crawford County left six runners stranded and committed two errors.

Paoli finished with 11 hits, with Eubank, Hall and Balsmeyer each getting two. From the mound, Eubank struck out three and walked eight in the eight innings. The Rams had one error and left 11 runners on base.

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