Scoreless Mound Streak Gone, No. 2 Lake Central Bats Pour it on Against No. 21 LaPorte

By Steve Krah

PBR Indiana Correspondent

ST. JOHN — While a streak of pitching dominance went away, Lake Central put together a overpowering offensive performance Tuesday, May 10 and earned another Duneland Athletic Conference baseball victory on their own home field turf.

Going into the game against visiting LaPorte, the Indians had not allowed a run in 60 innings — a national record — and Tuesday’s starter, junior left-hander Joe Graziano had a personal scoreless streak of 38 innings. 

Graziano (6-0; 5 innings, 2 runs, 5 hits, 2 strikeouts, 3 walks) was not spotless, but very effective to earn the victory. 

Plenty of support came Graziano’s way as Lake Central (18-3, 9-2) routed the Slicers (14-5, 7-4) by a 11-2 score in the opener of a two-game DAC series. 

Getting into hitter’s counts frequently, the Indians sent 10 runners to the plate and collected five runs and four hits in both of the first two innings. 

“It makes life a lot easier when you’re ahead in the count and get to sit on fastballs,” Lake Central coach Jeff Sandor said. “I’d like to see us keep competing in those at-bats. 

“We’re starting to break out. We’ve got a really nice baseball team.” 

Slicers coach Scott Upp agreed that getting behind LC hitters was costly. 

“We put ourselves in a hole early and couldn’t climb back out of it,” Upp said. “We threw from behind in the count. That’s where we got in trouble. 

“When they had the hitting count, they used the barrel of the bat. That’s something we’re longing to see (for our hitters). When we’re in a hitting count, we need to consistently be doing the same thing. At 3-0, 3-1 or 2-1, we need to barrel up some balls.” 

Four batters into the bottom of the first inning, the Indians were ahead 4-0 and LC led 5-0 at the end of the frame. 

Junior Jarrett Lopez led off with a walk and junior Nick Bandura followed with a single to right field.  

Senior Zack Turnbough ripped an RBI double to right, plating Lopez. 

Junior Ben Nisle belted a three-run home run to left, scoring Bandura and Turnbough in front of him. 

After two outs, sophomore Conner Tomasic lashed single to left to drive in senior Steven Meyer (on base by fielder’s choice). 

Slicers senior right-hander Nick Willoughby (4-2; 2/3 innings, 5 runs, 4 hits, 0 strikeouts, 3 walks) was lifted for senior right-hander Myles Jageman (3 innings, 5 runs, 5 hits, 2 strikeouts, 2 walks, 5 hit batsmen) during the first. 

LaPorte threatened but did not score in the top of the second inning. 

A lead-off walk of senior Travis Upp by Graziano was erased with a double play — Graziano to shortstop Tomasic to senior first baseman Jake Wisniewski. 

After a walk to senior Tanner Hill and single to center by junior Andy Samuelson, the Slicers left runners at first and second. 

The Indians loaded the bases with no outs and went on to score five more runs in the bottom of the second inning. 

Senior Ryan Ruthrauff and Meyer drove in the first two runs when they both were hit by pitches with the bases loaded. 

A sacrifice fly to left by Tomasic knocked in Ruthrauff. 

An RBI single to left by Lopez drove home Meyer. 

LC’s 10th run came on an infield hit by senior Colin Studer, scoring Nisle (who was also hit by a pitch). 

LaPorte stopped Lake Central’s overall scoreless streak at 62 2/3 innings and Graziano’s string of zeroes at 40 2/3 innings with one run in the top of the third inning. 

Senior Brogan Briggs rapped a two-run RBI triple to right, plating sophomore Caleb Rettinger (on base by fielder’s choice). 

“It’s an outstanding accomplishment,” Sandor said of the scoreless innings streak. “But I told the kids to forget the streak, it’s unparalleled already. Let’s just give up a run and get back to baseball. 

“We don’t want to be fighting nerves in Game 21. We want to find our best lineup and start preparing for (the IHSAA state) tournament and try to find a way to win this conference while we’re doing it.” 

Sandor noticed that Graziano was uncharacteristically nervous before the game and already had 60 pitches through three innings when he normally has 70-80 for a seven-inning outing.  

The Indians scored one run in the bottom of the third inning. 

Wiesniewski’s groundout knocked in Nisle (on by hit batsman) with LC’s 11th run. 

Junior Jon Williams led off the LaPorte fourth inning but was wiped out in another double play — Graziano to Tomasic to Wisniewski — and the rally died. 

The Indians were held off the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth inning.  

With two runners out, LaPorte junior right-hander Chris Juszkiewski (2 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 2 strikeouts, 1 walk) relieved Jageman and retired the one batter he faced in the frame. 

LaPorte scored one run in the top of the fifth inning. 

The Slicers sent up four straight pinch-hitters. The first — junior Peyton Riehle — singled to center. Two outs later, Riehle scored on infield single by sophomore pinch hitter Drake Vergin. 

Juszkiewicz fanned the first two Indians bottom of the fifth inning. The third out came when LaPorte second baseman Rettinger dove to his left to spear a line drive and take away a hit from Studer. 

With junior right-hander Jason Lamont (2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hits, 0 strikeouts, 2 walks) on in relief of Graziano, Upp cracked a lead-off double to right but was left stranded at second. 

Juszkiewicz retired Lake Central in order in the bottom of the sixth inning. The third out was snag of a hard grounder and bullet throw by third baseman Upp to retire Bandura. 

After two quick outs in the top of the seventh inning, Lamont issued two straight walks before coaxing a flyout to end the game. 

The game started 80 minutes late because of a lightning delay to begin the game. 

The site of the contest was changed from LaPorte to Lake Central earlier in the day trying to get the game in with thunderstorms in the area. 

The second game of the back-to-back DAC games was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. local time Wednesday, May 11 at LaPorte. 

Count Sandor as a fan of the piggyback two-game conference series and not of the three-game series which some other leagues employ. 

“It forces you to play baseball (and have pitching depth),” Sandor said of the quick turnaround against the same opponent. The best thing we could do is play two nine-inning games. Now, we’re getting into bullpens. That would make it really stinkin’ cool.” 

The two-game conference series also allows more flexibility and variety in scheduling non-league games. 

“You don’t want to run out and play a three-game series if you only have a 28-game schedule,” Sandor said. “That’s tough.”