Linden — The Lebanon baseball team knew it wasn’t going to be easy to beat the Crawfordsville Athenians for a third time.
But after an exciting back-and-forth affair, the Tigers topped Crawfordsville 8-7 to advance to the Sectional 25 title game.
“We had to play 21 outs,” Lebanon head coach Rick Cosgray said. “Unfortunately we gave them some additional outs throughout the game, but you just have to continue to fight with heart for 21 outs. Our kids did an outstanding job of that.”
The win by Lebanon (24-3) ended Crawfordsville’s 8-year run atop the sectional.
It was the first time since 2004 that the Athenians lost the opening game of the sectional.
Cosgray said that it he was happy the Tigers won’t have to play again until Monday so they can get their emotions in check.
“There was a lot of emotion out here today,” Cosgray said. “I think it will be good for us to have a couple of days to relax and recharge those emotions so we can come back and get ready to do it again on Monday.”
The Tigers struck first in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI-double by Isaac Harker and a 2-run double by Nathan Kincaid.
The Athenians came back, scoring one in the second to get within two and two unearned runs on two Lebanon errors to tie the game in the third.
Crawfordsville took its first lead of the game in the fourth, when Michael Minks hit a 2-run homer to left to make it 5-3.
The lead was short-lived.
Nick Starkey and Colton Ranney hit back-to-back singles with one out. After a fly out, Fortner came up and hit a single to tie the game.
“I was pleased with the fact that after we made some errors and they took the 5-3 lead we came back the next half inning and stayed focused,” Cosgray said. “We kept moving the baseball and Brantley came up with a big 2-run single. The kids stayed within themselves like they have all year long.”