ST. JOHN -- The metrics for Conor Pangburn didn't quite add up for Division I recruiters, which turned out to be a good thing for Purdue Northwest.
The Lake Central senior showed Tuesday that the big fish may have swung and miss on him, much like La Porte did in his 12-strikeout, five-hit shutout.
"I was probably a little under from what (velocity) they wanted," Pangburn said. "When I had a conversation with coach (Dave) Griffin at PNW, a couple coaches told me they didn't think I was athletic enough, so that's what I wanted to work on. All summer, I had a couple (schools) contact me, they'd ask me when I was starting, but halfway through, they fell off and just kind of ghosted me. It definitely puts a chip on my shoulder."
Sometimes, as Indians coach Mike Swartzentruber pointed out, recruiters over-think it, leaning too much on the data and not enough on the bottom line.
"My first priority would be, can a guy freakin' pitch? That's what I want to know," Swartzentruber said. "I don't give a (crap) if he can touch his toes. He's gotten better at PFPs (pitcher fielding plays). We've been working on that. This summer, he played with the Morris Chiefs, Five Star. He was 87, 88, 89 (miles per hour). Ninety is kind of that magic number and he never got there. He had a lot of D-Is nibble, nibble, nibble, but as a righty, they thought he was a little short on velocity. You go (to PNW) and show everybody what a mistake they made, right?"
Pangburn signed with PNW and is perfectly content with the destination, noting that former Hebron pitcher Chad Patrick was drafted in the fourth round out by Arizona, coming out of the NCAA Division II school in Hammond.
"They'll find ya'," said Swartzentruber, who was coaching at North Posey when it faced and defeated Bishop Noll, then coached by Griffin, at the 2A state finals in 2006. "You probably collected baseball cards. You look at the back of those, a lot of those guys went to places you've never heard of. Baseball's not like football or basketball."
La Porte coach Scott Upp duly impressed and surprised to hear Pangburn wasn't headed D-I.
"Somebody missed the boat," Upp said. "I thought he did a great job, but especially the first time around, we didn't make adjustments very well. "He throws hard, he throws strikes; not a single walk. If you're going to beat good teams like this, you've got to take advantage of what they give you. The score should've been 2-2 if we put the ball in play."
The Slicers (10-3, 4-3) put runners on third with one out in the fourth and fifth but Pangburn fanned the next two hitters in the third, then got a strikeout and groundout in the fourth to keep LP off the board.
"Those were big," Swartzentruber said. "At the time, it's a two-run game. They get one and anything can happen. It was good job by him having a feel for the game, knowing he needs a strikeout here. He made some good pitches."
Pangburn rarely went past two balls on a hitter and was getting plenty of chase outside the zone.
"I was just focusing on command," he said. "My previous starts weren't my greatest outings. That's something I wanted to work on, and get my off-speed over. They were swinging at curve balls in the dirt, so I just kept it there."
Swartzentruber was happy to see the two-strike wipeout pitch after Valpo inflicted some late-count harm on Pangburn.
"He works fast, he keeps the defense on its toes," Swartzentruber said. "He's a strike thrower, almost to a fault. Valpo was very aggressive against us. He's ahead 0-2, he's still throwing hittable strikes and they were doing a lot of damage."
LC (11-3, 6-1) broke a scoreless tie in third on a Connor Misch RBI double and Griffin Tobias RBI single. Matt Santana, who was grazed to start the third, reached in the same fashion to initiate a three-run fifth, when an outfield misplay on a wind-blown fly ball loaded the bases. Tobias singled to right to chase in two and Garrett Weber fly to right.
"We only had five hits, but we had timely hits, which we haven't had as much recently," Swartzentruber said. "You get in the DAC, you're not going to hit .400 against the pitching you're going to see back to back nights. You've got to find a way to manufacture."
All three Cam Worthington hit batters scored.
"Cam didn't throw poorly. Cam throws the ball healthy and they didn't mind swinging it," Upp said. "If we're going to beat teams like this, we've got to mix better, we can't give them any opportunities. They're good. They're very talented."
Two clear in the DAC with a favorable schedule in the last three weeks, Swartzentruber considered resting normal Tuesday pitcher Connor Misch for the back end of the home-and-home with La Porte.
"Now we have the driver's seat in the DAC, we'll try to go out and win another one (Wednesday) and see where it goes after that," Pangburn said.