Varsity Baseball | May 31, 2021

Sectional: Ben Greiner walks off a sectional title for Munster over Lake Central

MERRILLVILLE — Ben Greiner struck out twice in his first two at-bats Monday and looked bad doing it. Munster’s senior shortstop decided to sit on the curveball after that and the Mustangs are glad he did.

Greiner doubled in the fifth inning and scored Munster’s first run. Then he pulled a ball down just inside third base in the bottom of the seventh to plate Derrick Wiening from second and walk off with a 2-1 win over Lake Central to claim the Class 4A Merrillville Sectional championship, its first since 2016.

“(LC pitcher Carter Doorn) just hung it and I took it down the line. As soon as I hit it, I knew it,” Greiner said. “(Running to first I was thinking) we just won this game.”

Doorn was dominant for the first five innings.

He struck out 12 overall, including 10 in the first four. The senior Purdue recruit struck out the side in both the second and fourth innings. He didn’t give up a hit until Bryce Schaum singled to start the fifth. The Mustangs (20-11) had trouble even making contact before that.

Indians coach Mike Swartzentruber said Connor Misch was warming up late but he trusted Doorn, whose velocity was a little down but was still throwing strikes.

“It was one of those where you go down with the captain of the ship,” Swartzentruber said. “I have a whole 365 days now to second guess leaving him in. I’m sure I’ll go back and forth.

Schaum did his part to match Doorn for Munster, striking out eight through five innings and getting out of jams with minimal damage.

Lake Central (22-8) loaded the bases in the third with two outs but Schaum got Matt Santana to fly out to center. Schaum stranded two runners in the second and another in the fifth, as well.

“I just tried to dig down. This is the biggest game of the year. This was a must-win and these are our biggest rivals,” Schaum said. “I didn’t even have close to my best stuff today but I dug down and I’m glad I could get us out of it.”

The Indians loaded them again with two outs in the fourth. This time Schaum walked Misch for the game’s first score.

“When you’re up 1-0 and you don’t add and you have chances in baseball, I’ve seen enough to know it always comes back and haunts you,” Swartzentruber said. “It did. It caught up to us.”

On April 30, Munster beat Lake Central 3-2 when Denham Kozy threw out Doorn at the plate to end the game.

“It’s an insane rivalry. We all know each other. Everyone’s been playing travel ball together, summer ball, since we were 8 or 9. It just feels great to get that win, especially against a rival,” Greiner said. “To come up big like that, it’s something you’re going to tell your kids when you’re older.”

The Mustangs will play Valparaiso Saturday in the regional semifinal at 10:30 a.m. at LaPorte. The Vikings beat Crown Point 6-2 to win the Chesterton sectional Monday.

“I’m just so proud of these kids and this coaching staff. These guys have done a tremendous job this year with me being sick (with cancer),” Munster coach Bob Shinkan said. “It was hard-earned. I’m so proud of the kids for not giving up.”

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