May 22—LEBANON — The Lebanon baseball team found themselves in an early hole on Friday night in a Sagamore Conference match-up against Crawfordsville.
But once the Tigers got going, there was little Crawfordsville could do to slow them down.
Two big innings at the plate gave the Tigers a comfortable lead, and they went on to win 10-5 to secure the outright Sagamore Conference title.
"Brayton Bowen was up in the zone a little bit in the first inning, and they got some good hits," Lebanon head coach Rick Cosgray said. "Once he settled down, he started making better pitches and was really good. We knew it was going to be a competitive contest, Crawfordsville is a quality program, and it was good to get the win."
A Tiger win would secure the outright Sagamore Conference title, while an Athenian win would earn them a share of the title with the Tigers.
The Athenians jumped out to that 2-0 lead in the top of the first, and Lebanon cut into it when Garrett Harker hit a solo home run in the bottom of the inning.
The score remained that way until the third. Cosgray said the Tigers have shown the ability this year to battle back from early adversity.
"We have had a couple of games recently where we fell behind," Cosgray said. "In the 10-inning win over Delphi we were down 3-0 and came back, and tonight we were down. It's an encouraging sign that our kids aren't going to get rattled and panic, they just have a sense of urgency and know if we stick with it, good things will happen for us."
In the third, the Tigers loaded the bases with one out, and took the lead on a 2-run single by Bowen and a third run scored on an error.
Two batters later Caleb Linton hit an RBI-single to make it 5-2.
"Each guy in our line-up has a role to play," Cosgray said. "When the opportunities are there, they have to execute to their strengths. We did a good job of that tonight."
The Tigers extended the lead in the fifth.
Two walks and a single loaded the bases with no outs for Lebanon. After a strike out, Cannon Morton hit a grand slam to left, putting the Tigers up 9-2.
"Cannon has been outstanding for us," Cosgray said. "He started at the JV level to start and was playing well so we moved him up. He has been in our order and been playing defense recently as well. It was great to see him step up and contribute like that for us."
The Athenians made things interesting in the sixth.
A lead-off homer cut the lead to 9-3, before three-straight singles loaded the bases with no outs. A walk made it 9-4, before the next two batters were retired.
Another bases-loaded walk made it 9-5, but Ethan Coffman got a ground out to leave the bases loaded.
Matthew Coddington doubled, stole third and scored on an error in the sixth to ice it.
Before the game, Lebanon honored Coddington, Harker and John Stillwell on senior night.
"All three of them are great kids, they have outstanding attitudes," Cosgray said. "They are team-first kids and that because contagious for the rest of the team. That has set an outstanding example for our program."
Lebanon concludes the regular season with two games up at Twin Lakes on Saturday against Tippecanoe Valley and Twin Lakes.
The Tigers then start sectional play on Wednesday against Crawfordsville.
"We just want to play the style of baseball we have been playing," Cosgray said. "We will have a couple of good practices on Monday and Tuesday and get ready again for Crawfordsville. They are very well coached, we know they will be ready and we just have to take it day by day."
Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.