NEW LENOX – Through its first nine games this season, Lincoln-Way East had only allowed 13 runs to its opponents.
That’s a pretty ominous outlook for any opponent of the Griffins right now.
But when you couple that with the fact that Lincoln-Way East’s lineup also is capable of mashing the ball as well, things become really bleak for those that dare challenge them.
Those combination of factors came into play Friday afternoon as Lincoln-Way East breezed to a 13-1 five-inning victory over host Lincoln-Way West.
The contest actually looked as if it might turn into a pitcher’s duel early. Lincoln-Way East’s Landen Looper and Lincoln-Way West’s Nolan Larson seemed able to keep the two team’s lineups fairly in check with Larson cracking a little in the second inning by achieving a minor victory by keeping the Griffins to a pair of sacrifice flies from Jake Petak and Joey Boland.
The Warriors (4-3) answered back by slicing that lead in half in their half of the third when Aidan Healy nursed a leadoff walk from Looper and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch.
But while Larson managed to keep the Griffins at arm’s length early things started to unravel in the fourth inning. Larson walked a pair with one out and surrendered a three-run homer to Matthew Michaels and the bullpen couldn’t stop the attack either, surrendering three more baserunners, including a two-run double from Max Polad before escaping the frame down 7-2.
“With that wind, that was a tough one to hit into,” Lincoln-Way East coach Eric Brauer said. “The fact that Michaels got one out and Polad got one pretty deep, we were really squaring up the ball pretty nice. But early it kind of had that feeling that it was going to be tough to get a big numbers. So I was really pleased with that outburst, I thought we hit a lot of balls hard. And when there’s wind like that, you can’t get them off the end, you’ve got to get them flush.”
An inning later Lincoln-Way East (9-1) was back on the attack, plating six more runs on a combination of walks, hits and Lincoln-Way West miscues. Boland connected for a double in string of successful Griffins batters, while Alex Stanwich drove in two runs with the second of his two hits on the day.
“I thought we really did a nice job taking quality at bats,” Brauer said. “We had some really good at-bats and up-and-down the lineup. We feel good about it, on any given day, we’ve got guys who have stepped up, even guys that have struggled at times, it gives you pretty good confidence that we can make something happen.”
Meanwhile, Looper continued to grind things out on the mound for the Griffins. Although Looper didn’t possess the same stuff he had in previous starts this season, he would allow only the third-inning run on the wild pitch and only two hits to go along with seven strikeouts.
“Honestly, it was not Landon’s best stuff. He wasn’t a sharp today,” Brauer said. “But when you can compete and hold a team to one run, that speaks highly of where you are at.”