Baseball Team Gets CIC Win Over Indians

Posted on April 28, 2018 in Baseball, Spring Sports

By CHUCK LANDIS – clandis@chronicle-tribune.com
GAS CITY — Caleb Middlesworth is a big man on the basketball court, and Thursday afternoon the senior right-hander stood tall on the pitching mound at Mississinewa.

The 6-foot-8 senior right-hander was in command like a high school version of Justin Verlander and pitched a three-hit shutout to lead Oak Hill past county rival Ole Miss 3-0 in Central Indiana Conference play.

Oak Hill improved to 7-3, 3-0 CIC while Mississinewa, last year’s league champions, dropped to 7-4, 2-1. Frankton and Elwood had entered Thursday’s play unbeaten in the conference.

While Middlesworth is nominally the Eagles’ No. 1 pitcher, he entered Thursday’s game with a 5.60 earned-run average over 10 innings and 11 walks and 11 strikeouts. He said the complete game shutout was his first in high school.

“I just knew coming in that it was a big CIC rival and a big county rival and I knew I just wanted to come out and throw my best,” Middlesworth said. “My fastball was working good today and with coach (Bobby) Hart calling the pitches and Wes (Transier) behind the plate it was a good trio to get everybody out.”

Middlesworth and Indians freshman Landen Swanner were engaged in a scoreless pitcher’s duel until the fifth inning when the Eagles struck for all their runs after two outs. Landy Ozmun’s bunt hit was quickly followed by a Transier triple that hugged the first base line and Nate Alston’s single for a 2-0 lead. The third run scored when the Indians catcher’s pickoff throw to second base sailed into center field.

“Wes hit a huge triple and Nate on the very next pitch banged a single up the middle and that puts us up 2-0,” Oak Hill coach Shane Edwards recounted. “And we’re aggressive on the bases and we get a throwing error and we continued to apply some pressure

“We just need to put some hits together, and we didn’t do that early,” Edwards said. “But that young man on the mound (Swanner) — I don’t know how many starts he’s had — I know he’s only a freshman and he did a nice job going inside and working us and not letting us get dialed in on a pitch. We’re fortunate to get a few key hits with two outs.”

Swanner, a lanky right-hander with what Indians coach Mike Scott labels high pitching projectability, was making just his second start and third appearance. He allowed only three other hits, struck out three and hit a batter and retired seven straight Eagles hitters to end the game.

“Landen was in one of the first classes that we worked with in our youth leagues,” Scott said, “and he’s been in some big tournaments and big competitions. It goes a long way when you get the call like this for a conference game and especially a county rival.

“One of the most impressive things about him was even when runners were in scoring position his demeanor didn’t change, and that’s huge,” Scott added.

Edwards praised Middlesworth’s intensity throughout the game, and even though he was 0-for-3 at the plate might have had one of the biggest at bats of the game. In the fifth, he extended Swanner to 12 pitches, fouling off six pitches, before grounding out sharply to the pitcher for the second out.

Ozmun was the next batter and he laid down a bunt to the left side and made it to first base safely. The Indians third baseman bobbled the ball but had no chance of throwing out Ozmun, and it led to the Eagles’ offensive eruption.

“Great at-bat,” Edwards said. “He didn’t get anything out of it other than he’s a competitor and he’s not going to give in. He knows hitting isn’t his forte, but he knows if he gets a quality at bat then maybe it’s less pitches that (the pitcher) is going to throw to the next guy, and it did roll over to the next batter, Landry, and that got us going.”

Middlesworth finished with nine strikeouts and walked one batter and he retired 12 of the last 13 batters, and the one Indians batter reached on an error.

“He is just a competitor and obviously the notoriety for him is on the basketball floor,” Edwards said. “But he’s a bulldog for us and he goes out and grinds out pitches and puts his hand in the mitt and away we go.

“He was living in the (strike) zone and I don’t remember a whole lot of three-ball counts. He uses his defense and we were kicking it around some today, but we still win 3-0 and we had three errors and that says a lot about him and living in the zone.”

Cade McCoin, Easton Burton and Hunter Smalley had the Indians hits. McCoin also made the defensive play of the game with his running catch in the centerfield alley that ended the fifth and prevented further damage.

“If you love pitching it was a fantastic game,” Scott said. “If you are an Indians fan it hurts. We had some opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of, but … every game that goes by we’re getting stronger and stronger mentally, physically and their approach to the game.”

Oak Hill plays at 5 p.m. today at Manchester and then plays Eastbrook for the second time in four days at approximately 11 a.m. Saturday in the Grant Four tournament on its field.

Mississinewa is off today and begins defense of its Grant Four title at 9 a.m. Saturday against Madison-Grant at Oak Hill.

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