A Stout response: Down to last strike, Crown Point scores twice to end La Porte's 10-game win streak
By CJ PETERS
CROWN POINT – Playing in a 12-inning game that lasted three hours and 37 minutes – only to lose – can be quite the gut punch.
Crown Point junior Gabe Stout said the trek back from Schreiber Field following Thursday’s 3-2 Duneland Athletic Conference loss at La Porte provided an opportunity for guys to take a look within themselves before Friday’s second game.
“It was definitely a game you can look back on during the bus ride home,” Stout said. “It allowed each of us to reflect on what we can do coming into (Friday) because we know we have to win to stay in contention for a DAC title. It was reflecting on what we can do better and learning from our mistakes."
Although Friday’s game wasn’t nearly as long, the tension was just as palpable.
Down to its last out – and in this instance its last strike – Stout delivered a two-out single off La Porte starter Jack McGuire, scoring Carter Cleve to tie the game. A batter later, Clay Wignall delivered the walk-off knock, scoring Blake Pysh, who had struck out but reached on catcher’s interference, giving the Bulldogs a 5-4 win.
“I got down 0-2 there, just trying to do too much swinging at the high fastball,” Stout said. “I shortened up with two strikes trying to put in play. I saw the curveball, kept the hands back and drove it to get the run in.
“It felt good to deliver in that spot, I just had to have a calm approach. It was nice to get back in the hit column like that as well as the win column.”
The loss halted a 10-game win streak for La Porte, which had runners on second and third with just one out in both the fourth and fifth but only came away with one run.
“It absolutely stings and I’ll tell you what else stings is us leaving guys stranded at third base, a lot,” La Porte coach Scott Upp said. “In my mind, we deserved this because we had opportunities at third or second and third or whatever it may be and we didn’t put the ball in play and when you don’t put the ball in play, you’re obviously not gonna score. We gotta be tougher at the plate when we have runners in scoring position and we weren’t that.”
In addition to going 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI, Stout pitched six innings with 10 strikeouts for the Bulldogs (9-4, 4-2), working around six hits and a pair of hit batters and walks.
“It obviously wasn’t my best, there were some mishaps here and there with errors, walks, and that happens, but I was glad it didn’t take us out of the game and we were able to fight back and win this one,” Stout said. “It’s the same thing on the mound as when I’m at the plate, if I try to do too much then it gets out of hand. I just have to stay calm, take a deep breath and do what I’m supposed to do and get the job done.”
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound right-hander had a good feel for all his pitches as he settled in after the Slicers (11-3, 5-1) scored three in the first inning.
“Honestly, everything was working well today and it’s probably why I had more success than I probably should have,” Stout said. “It wasn’t the prettiest outing, but everything was working at the certain time it needed to be. This was definitely a big one for us, (La Porte) was undefeated in the conference before this and we needed this to stay in contention for DAC.”
Strayer thought Stout was sharp at times, but noted the two hit batters with two strikes.
“When he is effortless, he is outstanding,” Strayer said. “When he tries to manipulate things and get after it, he loses control and he’s gotta keep that under control. He’s a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve and I knew he’d be very emotional.
“I talked to him afterwards and still think he could have done a lot better job, but he kept his emotions in that last at-bat and had a great hit for us.”
And while it was a much-needed win, Strayer hopes his team can find more hits with runners in scoring position going forward. The Bulldogs left runners on second and third without scoring in the fourth and fifth.
“I told the guys afterward we still left a lot of runners on base, and that we needed to bear down and give at-bats in the earlier innings like we did in the last inning,” Strayer said. “We have to bear down and have better at-bats in crucial situations and we had some really poor at-bats in those situations. I’d like us to grow a lot faster, but I think we’re growing slowly.
“Hopefully we start figuring out some things because next week we run into a buzz saw as Valparaiso has been playing some very good baseball as of late.”
McGuire went 6 2/3 innings for La Porte, but it was his last pitch that Upp questioned, while giving credit to CP’s last two hitters.
“We had two strikes on (Stout) with two fastballs and then threw a breaking pitch,” Upp said. “We sped up his bat in that situation and we probably shouldn’t have and probably should have thrown him another fastball and taken our chances. The kid did a nice job staying back on it and the next kid does the same thing.
“You can always armchair quarterback at the end of games, but if we had to do it all over again, we would have thrown another fastball.”
Jayden Parkes and Cam Worthington were each 2-for-4 with the latter lacing a two-out, two-run double in the first inning. Carson Stalbaum scored twice.
“It would have been awfully nice to come away with this one because we know what happens in the DAC, but we deserved to lose this one because we left too many guys in scoring position,” Upp said. “We gotta find a way to put the ball in play and score runs there instead of waiting for them to throw a wild pitch or whatever it may be.”