Chesterton Tribune

Photos: Lambert sets table for Maple: Chesterton wins baseball sectional

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Triumphant Trojans: Chesterton’s Josh Goranson hoists the Class 4A Merrillville Sectional Championship trophy Friday after the Trojans beat Valparaiso 2-1 in eight innings. Goranson scored the game-winning run on a two-out single from Matt Maple.

(Tribune photo by Jimmy Kissee)

All out effort: Chesterton’s Nick Chase makes a diving catch Friday in the Class 4A Merrillville Sectional Championship game against Valparaiso. (Tribune photo by Jimmy Kissee)

Staying strong: Pitching on just three days rest, Chesterton’s Josh Malone struck out six and walked two in the Trojans 2-1 win over Valparaiso in the Class 4A Merrillville Sectional Final.

(Tribune photo by Jimmy Kissee)

Sectional Champs: Chesterton’s baseball team beat Valparaiso 2-1 in eight innings Saturday in the Class 4A Merrillville Sectional Final. See page 8 for story and photos.

(Tribune photo by Jimmy Kissee)

 

By JIMMY KISSEE

Whether it was offering words of encouragement from the sidelines or pinch-hitting, Matt Lambert just wanted a chance to help his team out any way possible.

The Chesterton senior captain, who typically bats second and plays right field, has been forced to a spectator role the past 3 1/2 weeks after injuring his shoulder on a head first slide into third base against Crown Point on May 11. Lambert made the most of his opportunity Friday in the Class 4A Sectional Championship game against Valparaiso.

After Josh Goranson led off the eighth inning with a single, Lambert was called upon to move Goranson to second. Lambert did just that with a beautiful sacrifice bunt, setting the stage for Matt Maple’s two-out, game-winning single up the middle, which scored Goranson, and gave the Trojans a 2-1 victory over the upset-minded Vikings.

“I’ve been waiting for my chance for awhile to help out anyway I could,” Lambert said. “Right now that’s about all I can do, but I was more than happy to put one down. After the first curveball I had some jitters, but I saw a few more pitches and got a pitch I could handle. This is just an unbelievable feeling.”

It was just as good of feeling for Maple, who batted lead-off early in the season, before being dropped to the No. 9 hole.

“I was really nervous, but I just tried my best to stay calm,” said Maple, who pointed skyward and gave a relieving fist pump as he saw the ball get past the Valparaiso infield and trickle into center field as he ran to first. “I zoned in and just put the ball back up the middle. This team never gives up and we didn’t today. This is just an awesome feeling to win the sectional, and to do it against Valparaiso makes it even better.”

Chesterton coach Jack Campbell couldn’t have been more pleased with effort put forth by his struggling shortstop or the rest of his team.

“Maple’s been struggling to hit the ball hard this last part of the year, but Coach Lambert’s been working his fanny off to get back and it looks like it paid off today,” Campbell said.

“These kids are all phenomenal. It’s great to see 18 guys going in the same direction. We came up with some big plays defensively, as well as making the routine plays, and that’s great to see in a game like this. It’s exactly what you have to do to win on this stage.”

Chesterton (19-8) appeared to have the game in hand with a 1-0 lead heading into the seventh and starting pitcher Josh Malone cruising along.

But with one-out, Kyle Bartho-lomew beat out an infield hit and Brian Witt singled to center to start a Viking (16-13) rally. Malone then got pinch-hitter Scott Martin to ground-out to second for the second out of the inning, before walking Clint Krysa to load the bases.

Malone had Viking lead-off hitter Tim Kucharski down to his final strike before hurling a wild pitch that easily scored Bartholomew from third and tied the game 1-1. Kucharski struck out on the very next pitch. Malone, who earned a no decision, struck out six and walked one.

“He was great out there,” Campbell said about his ace, who was pitching for the first time on just three days rest. “He wasn’t 100-percent, but he battled out there. He didn’t try to overpower anyone. I couldn’t have asked for more out of him. He had one ball in the dirt the entire game, so that was fantastic.”

Malone said his arm was tired after the first couple of innings, but his competitive nature helped him stay in the game.

“My arm was a little sore, but after that I just ran on adrenaline,” said Malone, who scored the first run of the game on an infield single off the bat of Jim Bard in the third inning with two-outs.

“I wasn’t worried when they scored. I knew we were going to get some runs, I just had to concentrate on getting the final out. I have no idea where our bats were today, though. But Lambert came in and laid down a nice bunt and Maple came through with a clutch hit.”

Valparaiso starter Clint Krysa (7-4), who pitched all eight innings, was the tough luck loser. He walked three and struck out four.

“Krysa pitched a great game,” said Campbell, whose team outscored the Vikings 26-7 in two regular season’s wins earlier this year, but only came up with two against the Viking ace. “You have to give him credit. He hung in there and got his team out of a lot of jams.”

Tom Albano (8-2) pitched a scoreless eighth to earn his eighth win of the season - all in relief efforts. Chesterton will travel to Lake Central on Tuesday for a Regional Championship match-up with the Indians, who were 4-1 winners over Highland on Saturday, at 4:30 p.m. The two teams split during the regular season with the Indians winning 4-3 on April 23 and the Trojans coming out victorious 4-2 on May 13.

Bard and Ryne Smitka each had a pair of hits for the Trojans, who outhit the Vikings 10-6, and left seven runners on base in the first four innings, including bases loaded in the first.

“We had some early opportunities to take advantage of and we didn’t, but in the end, when it really counted, we got the job done,” Lambert said. “This team has the ability to a little bit of everything and I think we really showed that today.”

Scoring By Innings

Valparaiso 000 000 10 - 1 6 1

Chesterton 001 000 01 - 1 10 1

2B - Ryne Smitka, Nick Chase (C).

Pitching Summary

Valparaiso - Clint Krysa (8 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 4 SO); Chesterton - Josh Malone (7 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 SO), Tom Albano (1 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 SO). WP - Albano (8-2). LP - Krysa (7-4).

 

Posted 6/7/2004