Fender records 15 K's to lead  Bulldogs to 6-0 Sectional Championship win over Portage

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


Coach Steve Strayer does a pre-game interview before the Crown Point-Portage sectional championship game. (Photos by Mark Smith)
Josh Lindeman (11) makes contact in the sectional championship game. Lindeman had an RBI base hit in CP's four-run sixth inning.
CP coach Steve Strayer watches senior pinch hitter Adam Rich (4) get ready to hit in the fifth inning.
Senior pitcher Ryan Fender (21) takes on a Portage. Fender struck out 15 Indians in a 6-0 win.
CP's Drew Horton (12) heads for home while Portage catcher Xavier Alvarez (17) gets set to protect the plate in the second inning against Portage.
CP junior Christian Mojica (23) leads off second base while Portage left-hander Tyler Nemtuda (2) fires away against Crown Point in the sectional championship game.
CP's Ryan Fender (21) holds the sectional championship trophy after The Bulldogs' 6-0 win over Portage.
Portage's Danny Puplava (18) leads off first base while CP's Gene Kolarik (27) hopes to pick him off in the fourth inning of the sectional title game.
Ryan Fender (21) talks to the media after his complete game shutout in the Cass 4A Sectional championship game.
That's Christian Mojica (23) with both hands on CPs first sectional championship trophy since 2011.
Winning baseball is good but candy is better for younger fans at the sectional championship game.
Crown Point defeated Chesterton 2-1, Valparaiso 5-2 and Portage 6-0 to win the schools' first sectional championship in eight years. (Photos by Mark Smith)

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Revised: June 05, 2019.

Team (Record) / Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
PORTAGE (15-10-1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3
CROWN POINT (28-4) 1 0 0 1 0 4 - 6 9 3

Monday, May 27, 2019 - Sunny, 78-degrees, 7 p.m. start in CROWN POINT, IN

WP – Ryan Fender (8-0) CG, 15 K, 2 walks
LP – Tyler Nemtuda (3-3) 2K, 4 walks (3 inn.)

Portage (15-10-1)
John Medina (CF) 0-for-2, walk
Danny Bruno (2B) 0-for-3
Scott Hansen (SS) 0-for-3
Bryce Kissinger (3B) 0-for-3
Danny Puplava (DH) 1-for-3
Tyler Nemtuda (P) 0-for-3
Jordan Jenne (RF) 0-for-1
Preston Taber (RF) 0-for-1, walk
Evan Gerike (1B) 0-for-1
Jack Dickson (P) 0-for-2
Migueal Verduzco (LF) 0-for-2

Jacob Bosse (RF) 0-for-2, 2 walks, RBI
Josh Lindeman (DH) 1 for-4, RBI
Christian Mojica (3B) 1-for-2, HBP, walk, 2 RBIs
Jonothan Sabotnick (RF) 2-for-4
Gene Kolarik (1B) 0-for-4
Dylan Matusak (LF) 0-for-2
Alex Rich (PH) 0-for-1
Drew Horton (2B) 2-for-2, walk
Tim Darche (C) 0-for-1, sac bunt
Zach Stubitsch (SS) 2-for-2, sac bunt, RBI

LaPorte Regional
6-1-19 at LaPorte high school

No. 1 CROWN POINT (28-4) vs. Lake Central (23-6)
No. 10 Mishawaka (23-6) vs. Northridge (22-8)

(Lafayette) Jefferson Regional
6-1-19 at Jefferson high school

Hamilton Southeastern (19-8) vs. FW Southside (18-10)
Carroll (22-8) vs Logansport (16-15)

Click Here for free MP3 Podcast

CROWN POINT (05-27-2019) I only had one question for CP senior pitcher Ryan Fender Monday.

Maybe I should have cared that Ryan had just struck out 15 batters in a 6-0 win over Portage.
Perhaps I should have asked him about winning the school’s first sectional championship since 2011.

It would make sense that I ask him about his eight wins against no losses and his 112 strikeouts in 51 innings on the season to this point.

But, in the aftermath of CP’s first sectional championship game win since 2011, a half dozen other people had already asked him about those things.

So I just had one question.

Are you ready?

When you get past the sectional level of the Indiana state baseball tournament, your No.1 pitcher better be ready.

In the final three rounds of the tournament, the way the dates are spread out, your No. 1 pitcher can be all the ‘pitching staff’ you need. Your ‘ace’ can start the regional opener, the semistate championship and the state final game. CP obviously has a strong ‘No. 1’ pitcher. Ryan Fender has dominated the opposition all season.

But that was then and this is now.

“I’ve never felt more ready,” Ryan said after his complete-game win over the Indians.” I haven’t even been nervous so far. I know I’m just going to come out here and do my thing. That’s all I can do.”

“Just go out there and throw strikes. If they hit the ball, they hit the ball. If they don’t hit the ball? Well. Then we win.”

Portage (15-9-1) didn’t hit the ball that much against Fender. Of the 26 visiting batters sent to the plate Monday, only nine were able to put the ball in play against the 6-foot-3 right-hander. Take away three Crown Point errors and only three Portage batters reached base in the seven inning game.

Top-ranked Crown Point took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a leadoff walk from Jacob Bosse and an RBI single from junior Christian Mojica.

CP (28-4) scored in the fourth inning on a single by Drew Horton, a sacrifice bunt by Tim Darche and an RBI single from ninth place hitter Zach Stubitsch.

CP scored four times in the sixth-inning on hits by Horton, Stubitsch and Josh Lindeman plus a dropped fly ball. Except for the errors, the top-ranked Bulldogs pretty much lived up to their reputation.

I’ve always thought that carrying the top ranking (as CP has most of the season) either becomes a burden or it’s a badge of invincibility. You either own it or it owns you. But there’s a fine line between being proud of the top ranking and owning it as opposed to being respectful to baseball, a sport where anybody can beat anybody any day.

“Absolutely,” said junior Gene Kolarik of CP’s pride in being No. 1 in the state poll since the start of the month. “We use that as a standard for ourselves with what we try to achieve.”

“We know we have to keep getting better because there’s so many areas that we have to work on. We saw that Wednesday night (in the 2-1, 10-inning quarterfinal win over Chesterton). But we got through it and we’re just trying to build on each win.”

“Being No. 1 is nice, but our goal is to get to Victory Field (the site of the state title game) in Indianapolis. You have to be a little arrogant in the sport of baseball and we are No. 1. But we don’t pay much attention to the rankings. We want to get to Victory Field. Four more games. That’s what we’re focused on and we do what we have to do.
I think we’re good enough to get to Victory Field.”

But CP has only five seniors. When the day comes, will CP react with swagger or will they stagger?

“Being No. 1 all season, most teams take that as pressure,” said senior Lindeman, who had an RBI single in CP’s four run sixth inning. “We just take it as, 'We’re having fun.'”

“In the end,” Fender added, ”It doesn’t matter where we’re ranked during in the regular season. It's just a question of whether we are there June 15 or 16 (the state finals’ dates) at Victory Field.”

CP has lost only to Lake Central, who they’ve also beaten. To McCutcheon, who they’ve also beaten. To Class 3A No. 1 Andrean and to Portage, who they beat 6-0 Monday.

They’re playing ‘big’. But judgment day is still ahead.

Jacob Bosse, a junior and first year varsity member, didn’t imagine he would be playing for the state’s No. 1 team Class 4A when the season began.

“I thought we’d do big things, Bosse said. “But I didn’t know it would be this big.”

DOG NOTES: CP will play rival Lake Central in the LaPorte Regional Semifinals beginning at 10:30 a.m. Northridge (17-7) and Mishawaka (23-6) will meet in the other half of the regional bracket. Northridge upset Penn 2-0 in sectional play. The LaPorte Regional Title game is set for 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $8 each. There is a good chance of rain Saturday.

Junior right-hander Gene Kolarik (6-1) struck out 14 and walked two in a 5-2 sectional semifinal win over Valparaiso last Friday.

CP scored four runs in the fifth inning to erase a 2-1 deficit against the Vikings (19-9), who lost for the third time this year to Crown Point.

Junior outfielder Jacob Bosse reached base four times against Portage Monday and he has walked an unofficial 34 times this season in 32 games. How does he do it?

“I don’t know,” joked coach Steve Strayer. ‘Maybe he intimidates pitchers with his physical presence.”

Bosse, who is a robust 5-foot-10 and 145 pounds, doesn't have a unique answer to why he gets so many free passes.

“I just try to stay as disciplined as possible,” Jacob said after Monday’s game. “I think I’m second all-time single season for Crown Point. When I get up there I just think about doing anything to get on base. If he (the pitcher) gives me what I want, I'll drive it. If he doesn’t, I just wait and foul off pitches.”

CP’s 28 wins is two short of the school record. Crown Point was 30-3 in the 2009 season. The soccer program has two state titles but no CP baseball, football or boys basketball team has ever reached the state championship game.

USA-365.com Broadcast Note: We plan to follow the Crown Point Bulldogs boys baseball team throughout the IHSAA tournament, as long as they remain alive in the post-season, subject to our broadcast team limitations. (See schedule and season results below.) Crown Point's next baseball game is against the Lake Central Indians in the LaPorte Regional Semifinal on Saturday, June 1 at LaPorte High School. Our Internet radio coverage on USA-365.com begins with the pregame show at 10:15 a.m., and the first pitch scheduled for 10:30 a.m., CDT. If the Bulldogs win, they face the Northridge-Mishawaka winner in the Regional final at 7 p.m. The evening pregame show will start at 6:45 p.m. CDT.

2019 CROWN POINT Bulldogs (28-4)
21-8 (2018) 19-9 (2017) 19-9 (2016), 25-6 (2015)
Steve Strayer (619-226, 27th season)

3-26 (W) 4-1 at Hanover Central (16-10)
3-28 (W) 18-2 (5 inn.) Bishop Noll (14-14)
3-30 (Rain) 2A No. 3 Boone Grove (17-12)
4-2 (W) 11-4 CHESTERTON (12-13)
4-3 (W) 8-5 at CHESTERTON (12-13)

Lafayette Invitational
4-5 (W) 11-5 at Jefferson (13-18)
4-6 (W) 9-2 at McCutcheon (22-7)
4-6 (W) 14-4 (6 inn.) at Harrison (15-12)

4-9 (W) 11-3 LAKE CENTRAL (23-6)
4-10 (L) 5-6 (6 in.) at LAKE CENTRAL (23-6)
4-13 (W) 1-0 (8 inn.) Penn (24-6)
4-13 (W) 12-6 Concord (6-17-1)
4-16 (W) 4-0 MICHIGAN CITY (6-17-1)
4-17 (W) 10-0 (5 inn.) at MICH. CITY
4-23 (W) 11-0 (5 inn.) LaPORTE (12-18)
4-24 (W) 6-0 at LaPORTE (12-18)
4-25 (W) 10-0 (5 inn.) Kankakee Valley (13-17)
5-4 (W) 3-1 VALPARAISO (19-9)
5-4 (L) 1-3 at 3A No. 1 Andrean (31-2)
5-6 (W) 7-5 at VALPARAISO (19-9)

5-7 (W) 10-2 MERRILLVILLE (5-20)
5-8 (W) 7-5 at MERRILLVILLE (5-20)
5-10 (W) 7-1 at Hobart (14-13)
5-11 (W) 6-0 Boone Grove (17-13)
5-14 (W) 11-3 PORTAGE (15-10-1)
5-15 (L) 1-3 PORTAGE (15-10-1)
5-17 (W) 6-3 Munster (19-8)

5-18 (W) 20-6 Plymouth (15-13)
5-18 (L) 6-7 at McCutcheon (22-7)
5-20 (W) 4-1 Illiana Christian

Class 4A Sectional 2 (at Crown Point)
5-22 (W) 2-1 Chesterton (12-13) 10 inn.
5-24 (W) 5-2 Valparaiso (17-11)
5-27 (W) 6-0 Portage (15-10-1)

Class 4A LaPorte Regional
6-1 (Sat) Lake Central (23-6)
6-1 (Sat) vs. Mishawaka (23-6) or Northridge (22-8)

Class 4A Semi-State (at Kokomo or Plymouth)

6-8 (Sat) 10 a.m. semifinals
6-8 (Sat) 7 p.m. championship