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Eagles crush Crawford, 16-4

Eagles crush Crawford, 16-4
Eagles crush Crawford, 16-4
Lanesville shortstop Jonas Powers, right, forces out Crawford County’s Josh Talley in the first inning but comes up short of completing a double play. Photo by Wade Bell
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer

After last year’s spring sports season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it left a void in a lot of teams with many veteran players not back this season. Both Crawford County and Lanesville baseball teams have had to deal with that situation, nearly starting again from the bottom up. Coming into the Wolfpack’s and Eagles’ game Thursday afternoon, Crawford County had one game under its belt, a win over Cannelton, while Lanesville had played four games but not registered a win.

“We have zero kids that have ever played a varsity baseball game, zero,” said Crawford County coach Isaac Bowles. “I was really nervous about if we were going to be ready for a game situation. We had one game on Monday, and we had one error in that game, which I tried telling those boys that is perfect. If we have a one-error game, that’s good.”

“We would get down early in the game,” said Lanesville coach Jon Will. “The past four games we would get down early and we wouldn’t really battle back.”

This time, the Eagles did get up early and Crawford County struggled. When it was all over, the Eagles had won by a 16-4 decision in five innings.

“I’m just focused on them getting better each and every day and also each and every game them learning something new that they can take that’s valuable to the next game,” said Bowles. “I told them we’re going to make mistakes. Just don’t make that same mistake twice. … I’m not going to get mad. … Move on and be fine.”

Lanesville wasted no time getting things going. Ashton Smith ripped a single on the opening pitch then, with one out, Ty Tidstrom smacked a double to score Smith for the first run of the game. Moments later, Jacob Wernert got some help from a Crawford County error to get to second. Wernert later stole third. That allowed Tidstrom to score, and the Eagles had a 2-0 lead.

Josh Talley walked to start Crawford County’s first at-bat, but the Wolfpack failed to convert.

In the top of the second inning, Lanesville went with the long ball and struck pay dirt again. Maverick Beldon started with a triple. With one out, Ben Purdy followed with a double, and the Eagles’ lead jumped to 3-0.

Crawford County got two of those back in the bottom of the inning. Blake Decker singled, and Bryce Rahman reached first on an error. The two runners advanced on a passed ball. Tidstrom was called for a balk with Isaac Nickelson at the plate, and both runners were allowed to advance, with Decker scoring. Nickelson grounded out, but Rahman scored to close the game to one, 3-2.

After that, everything went wrong for the Wolfpack. Following a fly out by Tidstrom, Crawford County suffered from the mound with four walks and a singled by Wernert. Nickelson came to the mound on a 3-0 count and saw Matt Compton walk. Purdy got two RBIs when Crawford County committed two errors. Smith followed with a triple to score two more runs then scored on a sacrifice fly by Jonas Powers, and the Eagles’ lead jumped to 10-2.

“I like to be aggressive on the base pads,” said Will. “That’s the way I played, and that’s the way I want to teach these guys. That goes right back to putting the ball in play. Baseball is a game of failure, and it’s how you handle that failure.”

Crawford County went three up and out.

Lanesville’s momentum continued into the top of the fourth with Crawford County’s Marcus Eastridge on the mound. Braydon Kiesler reached first on a Crawford County error. Wernert followed with a double, then John Albers was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Beldon singled, scoring Kiesler and Wernert. Purdy grounded out but scored Albers. Lane Anderson reached first on another Crawford County error but also scored Beldon. Lanesville got two more runs when Powers hit a long fly, scoring Compton, and Tidstrom singled to score Anderson. The score was 16-2.

Crawford County got a pair of those back in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Rahman reached first on a Lanesville error then went to second and third on two passed balls. Cameron Daughtery singled, scoring Rahman. Laken Belcher scored Daughtery with a single, stole second and reached third on a Lanesville throwing error. He got no further, however, as Tidstrom struck out Eastridge for the final out, as neither team scored in the fifth with the Eagles getting their first win of the season.

“We come up tonight and the score is 1-0; they hit a shot to right field, a routine fly ball, and we drop it and they score,” said Bowles. “The next inning we fumble one at second base. We fumble two or three on the left side of the infield. I tried to explain to them if we made the routine plays tonight the score is 4-7 or 4-9, 4-8. That’s a lot more reasonable than getting beat by the run-rule, 4-16. So, they’re a lot closer than what the scoreboard shows.”

Lanesville finished with 10 hits, with Ashton Smith, Wernert, Tidstrom and Beldon getting two each. Tidstrom struck out five and walked one, and Kiesler struck out one. The Eagles had four errors and left six runners on base.

Crawford County finished with three hits for the game. The Wolfpack threw three pitchers for no strikeouts, eight walks and one hit batter. The Wolfpack had six errors and left three runners on base.

“This is going to be a challenging year, but also I’m kind of looking forward to it because these boys, every time I give them instruction, they try to do what I say,” Bowles said. “It’s a learning experience for them. All of them haven’t played in a varsity game. We’re going over basic stuff in practice of how to run a base.”

Both coaches will still be undergoing construction projects with their teams during the next few weeks to be competitive by the end of the season.

“They do need a little bit of confidence, but again I think that will come with experience,” said Bowles. “Once we get down the road here in three or four weeks, where we can really see who we have, where we need to play guys, when we were a week away from the season I didn’t know who we were even going to play or where. So, once we find out what we’ve got and where we need to put some guys, I think the confidence will come with at-bats, with more live balls hit at them. Obviously, in practice you do as much as you can, but it’s different here when you’ve got a hundred people watching you. When a ball is hit right at you, everybody’s eyes are on you. I think confidence will come with experience.”

Lanesville                      217   60 – 16   10   4

Crawford County          020   20 –   4     3   6

W-Tidstrom, L-Talley; 1B-Smith (L), Decker (CC), Wernert (L), Beldon (L), Tidstrom (L), Daughtery (CC), Belcher (CC), Gunn (L); 2B-Tidstrom (L), Purdy (L), Wernert (L); 3B-Beldon (L), Smith (L).