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Cougars beat Blackhawks for spot in sectional title game


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FRENCH LICK

Rain fell here and there during Monday’s Class A Sectional 61 semifinal baseball games at Springs Valley High School.

It wasn’t enough to stop play, though, as Trinity Lutheran defeated Springs Valley 7-4 in the first game, and then No. 2 Orleans took down West Washington 12-1 in five innings.

But about two hours before the championship was supposed to be played that night, a steady rain hung over the area. That ended up being enough to postpone the championship game until 7 p.m. today.

In Monday’s first semifinal game, Springs Valley scored on an error in the top of the first inning, but Trinity tied the game in the bottom of the second on Nick Mensendiek’s one-out RBI single.

In the bottom of the third, Jake Moore led off with a single. After an out, Jacob Schult doubled, and Moore scored on Andrew Cain’s groundout.

Jacob Harless then was intentionally walked, and with Matt Fourman at the plate Schult scored when Harless got in a rundown between first and second. Harless wound up safe at first, but a strikeout ended the inning.

Springs Valley tied the game again in the fourth. Joe Wilson led off with a single and moved around on a sacrifice bunt and a passed ball. Logan Wilkinson drew a walk, and then Wilson scored when Schult was called for a balk. A two-out RBI single by Noah Switzer tied the game at 3, but he was tagged out at second when he tried to make it a double.

In the fifth, Ross Kruse drew a walk, Schult hit a liner off of the third baseman and Cain walked to load the bases.

Kruse scored on Harless’ sacrifice fly. After a strikeout, Mensendiek hit an RBI single, and Caleb Reedy followed with a two-RBI single. Reedy, however, was tagged out at second.

“Those two-out hits are always a big deal,” Cougars coach Bob Tabeling said.

“It was good to see Caleb get that hit. He has been struggling a little, but he got a clutch hit with two outs, and it was good to see him put the bat on the ball and hit the ball hard.”

The Blackhawks’ final run came on an error in the top of the seventh with two outs, but a runner was tagged out at third base to end the game.

Schult pitched the first four innings and struck out four, walked three and gave up two hits and three runs.

Moore pitched two innings in relief and picked up the win, striking out two, walking one and allowing one hit, and Cain pitched the seventh.

“Jake Moore, from the defensive side, just settled down and did a nice job pitching,” Tabeling said.

“Andrew Cain, we wanted him to get a chance to pitch on that mound for at least an inning, and we wanted it to be preparation (for the championship).”

Tabeling watched Orleans play West Washington, so he knows what to expect from the Bulldogs.

In last year’s championship, Cain and the Cougars shut down the then-No. 8 Bulldogs and won 3-0.

Trinity enters the title game with a 10-13 mark, while Orleans is 21-2.

“Andrew has got to be able to get his curveball over the plate,” Tabeling said.

“They have obviously shown they are a very consistent team. They can hit the fastball. We’ve just got to do a good job pitching and play a flawless defensive game to be able to beat them.”

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