LENA – OK, so the Indian Creek baseball team’s sectional debut didn’t go well. At all.
But if one took a snapshot of the left-field scoreboard, which showed the Timberwolves on the wrong end of a 14-0, six-inning drubbing at the hands of host Lena-Winslow, the bigger picture might be missed.
Time might show that Wednesday’s loss in a Class 1A Lena-Winslow Sectional semifinal was a starting point, not a finish line.
“Obviously, today wasn’t what we wanted,” said Indian Creek coach Joe Piekarz, whose team captured the program’s first regional championship Saturday, “but if you look at the big picture, I really believe this team set the stage for future seasons.”
The Timberwolves (16-6) had only one senior on the roster – catcher Lane Rissman – and expect to return every other piece from their breakout season. Rissman, tasked with guiding his team’s young pitching staff, sees bright things on the horizon for his now former teammates.
“This season was really rewarding,” he said. “This year’s team really clicked and played well together. It’s nice to know I was here to help out and put my name on it so I can always look back on this."
Wednesday’s loss didn’t start out all bad, and it seemed that maybe Rissman would have one more positive memory on which to reflect. The score was 1-0 Lena-Winslow after three innings, and Timberwolves starting pitcher Chris Pickwell was grinding along like his typical effective self, working his way out of jams to keep his team close.
But the game turned against Indian Creek in the fourth inning. Pickwell walked two of the first three batters of the frame, bringing up the heart of Lena-Winslow’s order with two on and only one out. The southpaw could have escaped again with minimal damage, but an error two batters later was followed by a popup to shallow left field that dropped to the ground behind the shortstop position.
Instead of being out of the inning, Pickwell faced a bases-loaded, one-out situation with two runs already in. A bases-clearing double by Lena-Winslow's Ben Morst blew the game open and chased Pickwell with his team trailing 6-0.
“We had a simple motto this year: ‘Our pitchers throw strikes, and our defense plays defense,'" Piekarz said. “Chris did what Chris always does, he battled. Our defense just didn’t make the plays for him.”
The Timberwolves committed three errors in the game, leading to five unearned runs.
Offensively, the Timberwolves had no answer for Lena-Winslow lefty Sean Cory, who spun a four-hit shutout and held Indian Creek without an extra-base hit.
“[Cory] did a nice job of mixing it up,” Piekarz said. “We battled. We made him work deep into the count. He just had enough to finish us off.”
Freshman speedster Trevor Guerra had two of the Timberwolves’ four hits, legging out a pair of infield singles. Tim Sommerfeld gave Indian Creek its best chance at scoring, stealing second and third base after a first-inning single. Winston Simpson had the team’s other hit.