Western Boone Jr-Sr High School
Stars advance with win over Warriors
By Jeremy Dexter | May 25, 2023 8:49 AM
CRAWFORDSVILLE - When you ask Western Boone baseball coach Michael Nance to describe his team this year, one word always comes up "resiliency." That was evident once again on Wednesday night in the sectional opener against Danville. The two teams traded blow after blow during the game, but it was the Stars that prevailed with a thrilling 7-6 win to advance to the sectional semifinal. "We talked about Danville every single day since the draw," Nance said. "This has been our focus. Now, it's got to change quick tomorrow night, but I am so proud of their execution and the way they showed up and played." Western Boone held leads of 4-0 and 6-4 in the game, but both times Danville came back to tie the game. Nance said that there was no panic in the dugout when the Warriors came back, just a belief they would still find a way to win. "I would define our team as resilient," Nance said. "Our team motto is 'so what.' If something bad happens, so what. If something good happens, so what. We are just focused on making the next play, and that showed tonight." That mindset was on full display in the seventh inning. The Stars took a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Luke Jackson, and Bryce Kopriva retired the first two batters of the seventh inning on a strike out and a ground out. He then forced sky high pop up that looked like it would finish the game, but the ball landed between a group of Stars in front of home plate for a hit. Kopriva then fell behind the next hitter 3-0, before firing in three-straight strikes for the game winning strike out. "We call him the professor, you never know when he is upset or when he's in a good mood," Nance said. "He is just nose on the grindstone ready to role." Western Boone mounted a 2-out rally in the first inning to grab a lead. Cole Wiley singled with two outs and then pinch runner Blake Miller scored on an error. After Jackson Grimes walked to put two on, a stolen base, error and passed ball allowed two more runs to score to make it 3-0. A dropped third strike then allowed a fourth WeBo run in the first inning. Danville scored a run in the second, then three in the third to tie the game at four. But in the third, Western Boone took advantage of back-to-back Danville errors with two outs to score twice and make it 6-4. Danville tied the game once again in the sixth with a two-out single, but once again WeBo responded. Owen Kiplinger walked leading off the inning, and John Rutherford pinch ran for him. Rutherford advanced to third on two wild pitches before Jackson hit a sacrifice fly to right to score the go-ahead run. "We put a freshman in their to pinch run, and he worked his way around," Nance said. "Our leader Luke Jackson came through with a sacrifice fly and got the job done." Grimes was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Gavin Hawkins, Wiley and Carter Marcum also got hits. Grimes got the start and pitched the first three innings allowing four runs (one earned) on three hits. He struck out one. Kopriva allowed two runs on seven hits in four innings, striking out two. "Grimes has been lights out this year and that's why he got the start," Nance said. "He didn't have his best stuff, but he is a team player and had no problem going into center field and making a few plays out there. Then when Bryce gets the ball, we know he is going to shut them down." Western Boone will now face Tri-West in the sectional semifinal. The Bruins topped Crawfordsville 1-0 on Wednesday. "We aren't content with the win tonight," Nance said. "We are going to have to figure out pitching, but we just have to keep moving the ball around. We are going to enjoy this tonight and figure out the rest tomorrow." Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.