Varsity Baseball | April 9, 2019

Mojica’s big bat, Fender’s strong pitching propel No. 2 Crown Point past No. 3 Lake Central

CROWN POINT — The Lake Central baseball team looked forward to its home-and-home with Crown Point.

After the Indians downed Lowell by 10 runs Saturday to remain undefeated on the season, senior center fielder Evan Hand anticipated that his squad would be in for another tough Duneland Athletic Conference match-up with the Bulldogs, and they did not disappoint. Crown Point got off to a hot start Tuesday and never looked back.

The Times No. 3 Indians got on the board in the top of the first inning when junior right fielder Nolan Zahorsky scored on a wild pitch, but their one-run lead evaporated when Bulldogs junior third baseman Christian Mojica responded with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first. His first home run of the season helped propel No. 2 Crown Point to an 11-3 victory and hand Lake Central its first loss of the year.

“I was looking outside, and it was a first-pitch fastball,” Mojica said. “It was right over the plate, and I took it to left field, left center, and did what I had to with it.”

Mojica also hit a single and drew a walk, but he wasn’t the only one who had a big day for the Bulldogs (8-0, 3-0). All nine batters in the starting lineup reached base, including junior catcher Tim Darche and senior shortstop Josh Lindeman. Darche recorded three hits, three runs, one RBI and one walk, while Lindeman totaled two hits, one run and a game-high three RBIs.

Crown Point coach Steve Strayer commended his team for its collective effort against a conference rival and thought that it was one of the best offensive performances his players have put together all year. The Bulldogs scored in five of their six innings at the plate and combined for 14 hits.

“We were locked in, and I thought we hit the ball where they pitched it,” Strayer said. “The outside pitches we took the other way. The inside pitches we took to left field, and we’ve been doing a pretty good job of that. We just have to continue to do that.”

But even with the strong showing offensively, Strayer also made sure to recognize Ryan Fender. The senior pitcher dominated on the mound and showed off his full arsenal with a variety of different pitches. In the top of the sixth inning, Fender threw a breaking ball that left Indians first baseman Jake Martin looking and closed out the frame. He struck out three batters in that inning and jogged off of the field to an approving cheer from Crown Point’s home crowd.

Fender finished the day with 13 strikeouts and one walk and gave up two hits in six innings. He said he felt confident throughout the entire game and added that the run support he received from his teammates made his job a lot easier.

“I just tried to do my thing, and go out and throw strikes,” Fender said. “The offense putting up five early runs, that was really helpful. It allowed me to just attack the strike zone, and then good things follow when you throw strikes.”

Strayer still sees areas in which his team can improve. In the sixth inning the Bulldogs committed three fielding errors, which helped Lake Central (4-1, 2-1) score its final run of the game. Strayer said his team will have to clean up its miscues in Wednesday’s rematch with the Indians.

“We have to be more locked in defensively because we were not sharp (Tuesday),” Strayer said. “We have to be better (Wednesday), and we’ll definitely talk about that.”

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