After poor start, Slicers regroup, prevail late
La PORTE — Sloppy start. Fine finish.
That’s the way the opening game of the Dr. Mueller Classic went for La Porte’s baseball team.
Despite a shaky beginning, the Slicers shook that off and erased a 4-0 deficit on Saturday morning.
In the end, La Porte outlasted Elkhart Memorial 6-5 at home, winning on Chandler Banic’s walk-off, RBI single to center field in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“I was just thinking, don’t try and do too much with it,” Banic said. “I was trying to hit it back up the middle. The center fielder was in right center, the right fielder was playing the line, and the left fielder was playing straight-away. I was going to take it oppo (opposite field), but he gave me one right down the middle and I took it right back to center.”
To begin the game-winning rally, Peyton Riehle reached first base on a fielding error by the shortstop. He then stole second, before Banic laced a two-out line drive into center, which Riehle easily scored on, as the center fielder’s throw was well wide at home plate.
Early on, it seemed as though the Slicers (5-1) were going to lose. They had two errors and a pair of walks in the opening inning. That allowed the Chargers (3-1) to lead 2-0 after the first.
“We just weren’t ready to play,” La Porte coach Scott Upp said. “They were simple errors.
“But the second part of the ball game, we evidently woke up. But we’ve got to understand and learn from this, that we cannot come to the ball park and warm up to a game.”
Banic went 2-for-3 offensively with a walk and two RBIs.
He also notched the victory pitching. Banic threw the last three innings, not allowing a run or a walk and surrendering only one hit with five strikeouts.
“Not only did Chandler (Banic) hit well today, but he also shut it down when we needed it shut down on the mound,” Upp said. “He came out and threw strikes. Now, the first couple of hitters, we threw one away, we had a passed ball, we had a wild pitch. We gave them another run there. But after he got a little more comfortable, he did a great job.”
La Porte trailed 4-0 heading to the bottom of the fourth. Then, its offense came alive.
The Slicers recorded five runs in the fourth to go ahead 5-4. Banic had an RBI base hit to right, and Caleb Rettinger hit a two-run single to left center. Jon Williams finished the scoring in the inning with a two-run single to left center. Riehle started the rally with a walk.
“Caleb (Rettinger) does a real nice job hitting through the baseball,” Upp said. “Jon (Williams) does a nice job hitting through the baseball. But we had a couple other guys with hustle plays that helped us out. Even in that last inning, Peyton Riehle on a hustle play. It was a weak ground ball hit to shortstop, but the hustle play gets him to first. He steals second, and then a base hit gets him in.”
In the top of the first, the Chargers tallied a pair of runs. It could have been more, however, as right fielder Andy Samuelson caught a fly ball and threw out a Memorial runner at home plate for a double play to limit the damage.
That rally began with a walk, and La Porte had two walks and two errors in the inning, both errors on dropped balls which would have been forceouts.
In the third, Slicer center fielder Nolan Lorenz threw out a runner at the plate after catching a fly ball for another double play. That ended the inning and La Porte held Memorial to one run, making it 3-0.
Rettinger finished 1-for-3 with a walk, two RBIs and reached base three times, and Williams went 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs.
Noah Mathias started for La Porte, giving up five runs, two earned, on three hits in four-plus innings. He finished with three strikeouts and six walks.
La PORTE 6, ELKHART MEMORIAL 5
WP — Banic (3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 5 SO). LP — Joy (2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO). SB — Baer, Riehle, Ochoa, Banic. RBI — Kloss, Wruble, Rettinger (2), Williams (2), Banic (2).
Records: (Elkhart Memorial 3-1, La Porte 5-1).