Fender Fans 13 as No. 3 Crown Point Tops No. 5 Lake Central

Steve Krah
PBR Indiana Correspondent

CROWN POINT — Crown Point senior right-hander Ryan Fender kept Lake Central hitters guessing as the IHSAA Class 4A No. 3-ranked Bulldogs bested 4A No. 5 Indians 11-3 Tuesday, April 9 in high school baseball.

Fender pitched six innings, giving up three singles — two of the infield variety — with 13 strikeouts (eight looking) and one walk over six innings and 95 pitches.

“I went out and tried to do my thing,” said Fender. “I attacked the strike zone and good things follow. “I just tried to mix things up and throw a first-pitch curveball and a first-pitch fastball and catch them off-balance.”

Fender, who moved to 3-0 on the season while helping his team move to 8-0 overall and 3-0 in the Duneland Athletic Conference avenged a 2018 loss against DAC rival Lake Central.

“It was in mind all off-season while I was training,” said Fender. “That was a big conference. We were the two top teams in the conference. I wanted to come out here this year and do what I did.”

Crown Point coach Steve Strayer talked about Fender’s performance.

“He was locked in today,” said Strayer. “Last year put a bad taste in his mouth. LC is a big rival. He wanted to show he’s one of the top pitchers in the area and I think he did that. “He’s unpredictable with his pitches. We’re trying to have all our pitchers do the same thing.”

Junior right-hander Dylan Matusak relieved Fender in the Lake Central seventh and retired the Indians in order with two fly-outs and a strikeout.

The Bulldogs’ offense produced 14 hits — six for extra bases — in sending Lake Central to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the DAC.

The same two teams are slated to meet again Wednesday, April 10 at Lake Central.

“If we get a sense of complacency, we’re not a very good team,” said Strayer. It’s tough to beat a team twice in a row and it’s going to be tough to win (Wednesday).”

Junior Tim Darche (3), senior Josh Lindeman (2) and juniors Christian Mojica (2) and Drew Horton (2) all collected multiple hits for Crown Point.

Lindeman drove in three runs, Mojica plated two while Horton 
scored three runs and Darche and junior Zach Stubitsch both crossed the plate twice.

“One person gets a hit then everyone wants to do the same thing,” said Mojica. “Batting is contagious.”

What about his first home run of 2018?

“I looked the other way and got ahold of it,” said Mojica, who swings from the right side. “It was a first-pitch fastball. It was right over the plate and I took it to left-center.”

Junior Nolan Zahorsky reached base three times on errors and scored all three runs for Lake Central. Two of the Indians’ three hits came from senior Max Born.

Four LC pitchers — junior right-hander Alex James, senior right-hander Dave Griffin, junior right-hander Doug Loden and junior left-hander Jake Martin — combined to yield seven walks and one hit batsman.

“You’ve got to tip your hat to them,” said Lake Central coach Mike Swartzentruber. “They hit everything hard, no matter if it was a fastball, curveball or change-up. “Baseball is humbling at times and it was humbling for all of us.”

Crown Point took an 11-3 lead with one run in the bottom of the sixth. 

Martin started the inning on the mound for Lake Central.

Darche smacked a lead-off double to left, moved to third base on Junior Jacob Bosse’s bunt single and scored on Lindeman’s sacrifice fly to center.

Crown Point stranded runners at second and third after Martin coaxed an inning-ending groundout.

Lake Central scored one run against Fender in the top of the sixth to pull within 10-3.

Zahorsky reached on an error, moved to third on another error and scored on Born’s one-out single to left.

Fender picked up three more strikeouts in the frame, including the last two batters with runners at the corners.

The Crown Point fifth ended with Lake Central pitcher Loden spearing a line drive hit by Stubitsch.

Crown Point left two runners. With two outs, junior Gene Kolarik walked and Horton singled to center.

Lake Central went down in order against Fender in a scoreless fifth with a strikeout, come-backer to the mound and fly-out in its half of the fifth.

Crown Point added one run in the bottom of the fourth for a 10-2 edge.

Loden relieved Griffin to begin the inning.

Horton drew a lead-off walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Darche’s one-out triple to right.

CP had runners on second and third when Loden induced an inning-ending fly-out.

Lake Central tallied one run against Fender in the top of the fourth to cut the gap to 9-2.

Zoharsky reached on a two-base error, moved to third base on a passed ball and scored on an infield single by Born. It was LC’s first hit of the game.

Fender collected three more strikeouts.

Crown Point sent 10 batters to the plate and its lead grew to 9-1 with four runs in the bottom of the third.

Kolarik (left) and Horton (right) led off with back-to-back doubles.

Stubitsch followed with a single to right to drive in junior pinch runner Bryce Pause.

That’s when starter James was relieved on the mound for Lake Central by Griffin.

A wild pitch allowed Horton to score Crown Point’s seventh run.

Darche and Bosse drew walks and Lindeman’s one-out single to center allowed both to score.
Griffith racked up three strikeouts in the inning.

Fender put Lake Central down 1-2-3 in a score-free top of the third with a fly-out, groundout and strikeout.

Crown Point produced three runs against James in the second for a 5-1 advantage.

Horton opened the inning with a slow roller to the third base bag.

Stubitsch’s sacrifice bunt pushed Horton to second base.

Stubitsch went to third base on a single to left by Darche.

A groundout by Bosse plated Horton.

Junior Jonathon Sabotnik’s single to center knocked in Darche.

After an errant throw allowed Sabotnik to move from first to third. He scored on an error on a ball off the bat of Lindeman.

Lake Central went down in order against Fender in the second with two caught-looking strikeouts and a fly-out in a scoreless second.

Mojica’s first-pitch two-run homer to left-center off James put Crown Point ahead in the first.

Lindeman scored ahead of Mojica after socking a one-out double to center.

The first out was running catch by Lake Central senior center fielder Evan Hand.

The frame ended with the Lake Central double play — senior shortstop Zack Dobos to senior second baseman Jared Bais to junior first baseman Sean Sullivan.

Lake Central scored one run without a hit in the top of the first.

No. 2 hitter Zahorsky reached base on an error, stole second base, moved to third base on a balk and scored on a wild pitch.

All three outs in the inning were strikeouts by Fender.