CRAWFORDSVILLE — Western Boone head coach Jordan Klinedinst brought his team together on Thursday morning, hours before they were set to play No. 1 Crawfordsville in the sectional.
The message was simple. The regular season was over, and the sectionals provided a brand new start. The Stars took his message to heart, and stunned the Athenians 2-0 to advance to the sectional semifinal against North Montgomery on Monday.
“We talked about what has been missing this year,” Klinedinst said. “Coming into the year, we had the confidence to be one of the top teams in the conference. We had the fun, but the focus and the effort didn’t follow all the way the through. All we wanted was focus and effort. We knew we had a guy on the mound who could do it and the defense that could do it, we knew that if we can put together some offense, we would be right there.”
Thursday’s game was a pitcher’s duel between WeBo’s Peyton Young and Crawfordsville’s Trent Johnson.
Young allowed just one hit in the first six innings, a lead-off single by Johnson in the first. But catcher John Bromberek picked Johnson off second, and Young retired the six batters he faced.
He went 6 2/3 innings, allowing two hits, walking three and striking out 14.
“We really studied the two games we played against them in the regular season,” Young said. “We made a spray chart and we were pitching to that chart. John did a heck of a job calling the game tonight. When John made that throw in the first inning, and Riley (Reagan) made a diving play later in the game and you could tell our energy picked up. I feed off that, it excited me and I felt like I was in a groove.”
Klinedinst said the decision to start Young came from the fact that Crawfordsville hadn’t seen him this year.
“We hadn’t throw Peyton at them,” Klinedinst said. “They had been effective against our “No. 1 and No. 2,” so I wanted to throw something different at them. Peyton is obviously a good pitcher, he has a no-hitter this year and we felt confident in going with him. He got the job done.”
The Stars had base runners in three of the first four innings via Crawfordsville errors.
They didn’t come up with a hit until the fifth, and when they did they made the most of them.
Felix Martinez walked with two outs and stole second. Riley Reagan followed with a chopper to short that he beat out for an infield single.
Up come Young, who up until that point was 0-for-2 with two strike outs. He fell behind 0-2, but then lined a single off second baseman Payten Abney’s glove for a 2-run single to give the Stars the lead.
“He was throwing my a lot of great curveballs,” Young said. “On the 0-2, he left me a fast ball up and I just did what I do with it and it worked out for us.”
Klinedinst said it doesn’t matter who Young is facing, his approach is even-keeled and that is what he wants from all his players.
“The thing with P.Y. is you can’t tell him he can’t do something,” Klinedinst said. “He is going to go up there with the mindset of it doesn’t matter who it is, he is going to have his same approach. That is something we are trying to teach our other guys, and that mindset will carry him far. For him it is all about confidence and it doesn’t matter the situation.”
That would be all the run support that Young would need.
In the sixth, Young hit Johnson with a pitch with one out, but he was stranded at third.
In the seventh, Young issued a lead-off walk to Chase Dowell, and two batters later Abney singled and an error put runners on second and third with one out.
Young struck out Wendelin for the second out, but he reached the 120-pitch mark, ending his day.
Klinedinst turned to Lance Oldham, who got Will Kellarman to fly out to Young to end the game.
“Normally Lance throws a lot in the pen to get ready for games and he didn’t today,” Klinedinst said. “We decided to go with a soft-tossing right-hander. We just told him that if he throws a couple of strikes, we win. He buried down and got it done.”
It is the second-straight year that the Stars have upset Crawfordsville in the sectional.
The Athenians had been 14-0 this year against Sagamore Conference foes. Last year, the Stars run ended in the sectional title game against Frankfort.
Klinedinst said his team has the belief that they can carry this run further.
“We felt like we were good enough talent-wise to be right there with Crawfordsville in the conference,” Klinedinst said. “That obviously didn’t happen, but what we were lacking was that understanding of what it is like to win. We had a game like this last year, and now again this year. I believe that can carry over in the mindset of the guys. The feeling of being focused and putting forth everything for all seven innings is going to push us forever.”