Crown Point defeats Elkhart 12-4 in opening round of Babe Ruth State Tourney (age 15 and under)

A Special Report by Mark Smith 


Team (Record) / Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
CROWN POINT (5-0) 2 0 0 0 3 7 0 12 6 2
Elkhart (4-2) 1 0 2 0 0 0 1 4 6 6

Saturday, July 14, 2007 - Babe Ruth all-star state finals, double-elimination at Ron Reed Field in LaPORTE, IN

WP - Josh Negele (3-0) 10K, 4 walks (5 innings - 89 pitches)
LP - Brock Lipton (1-1) 3K, 5 walks (5 innings - 76 pitches)

CP (5-0)
Josh Negele (CP-P) Triple, single, RBI, 2 runs scored
Kyle Naughton (PH-LF) 2 singles, 3 RBIs
Scott Donley (SS) Double, RBI
Spencer Rapchak (1B) 3 walks, 2 runs scored
Beau LaSalle (C) Single, walk, RBI, 2 runs scored

Elkhart (4-2)

Chance Hagen (3B-P) 2 doubles, single, 2 RBI
Brock Linton (3B-P) Single, RBI
Tyler Nutting (CF) Single, 3 walks

BABE RUTH all-stars (15) at Munster Babe Ruth

7-5-2007:  CP 7, DYER 0;  Hammond 10, St, John 0
7-6-2007:  CP 6, Munster (Red) 4;  DYER 10, St. John 0
7-7-2007:  Munster 10, DYER  4
7-7-2007:  CP 4, Hammond 0
7-7-2007:  Hammond 15, DYER 10
7-8-2007:  CP 10, Hammond 1  (title)
winner advances to the 15-team Babe Ruth age 15 state finals beginning Saturday, July 14 at 12 noon at Ron Reed Field in LaPorte

2007 Babe Ruth (age 15) State Finals
at Ron Reed Field and LaPorte high school - LaPorte, In. (double elimination)  winner's bracket
7-13-2007:  Griffith 9, Kokomo 5;  Hammond 5, LaPorte 2
7-14-2007:  CROWN POINT 12, Elkhart 4;  Knox vs. Anderson
7-15-2007:  Mishawaka 00, Griffith  00;  Marion 00, Hammond  00
7-15-2007:  Blackford 00, CROWN POINT 0, Peru 00, Anderson/Knox 00

7-21-2007 (Sat) Winner's bracket semifinal - 1:00 p.m. (at LaPorte High School)
7-21-2007 (Sat) Winner's bracket semifinal - 3:00 p.m. (at LaPorte High School)
7-22-2007 (Sun) Winners bracket final game - 2:00 p.m. (at LaPorte High School)
7-23-2007 (Mon) Championship game one - 5:30 p.m. (at LaPorte High School)
7-23-2007 (Mon) Championship game two - 8:00 p.m. (at LaPorte High School)

LaPORTE (7-14-2007) -  The Crown Point Babe Ruth 15-year-old all-stars picked up a valuable lesson Saturday, although it is one that probably further values this season.  The 15s ran into an umpire with an unusual strike zone.  A fairly consistent one, but one that was lower than normal.

When CP left-hander Rich Negele walked two of the first four Elkhart Babe Ruth all-stars, the latter after throwing the three belt high pitches over the middle of the plate, it was obvious that the 15s needed to do some adjusting.

"You saw what we saw," said 15s manager Rick Negele.  "We weren't getting the strike calls we usually get.  "He wasn't calling anything that was at all high. He (Josh) tried to bring every thing down and in where the umpire wanted it.  It's the only thing you can do.  Try to make the ump happy."

The younger Negele, Crown Point high school's top freshman pitcher, gave up three runs and four walks to the first 11 batters, but he also struck out 10 in five innings as his teammates rallied at the plate.

The CP batters were also having a problem, swinging at pitches that would not have been strikes.  Elkhart, with only nine players available, led 3-2 going to the fifth inning at the windy, tree-lined Ron Reed Field on LaPorte's northeast side.  But when Spencer Rapchak simply accepted a leadoff walk in the fifth, Crown Point had a rally started.  Two outs later, Elkhart second baseman Drew Hulva dropped a popup in the 20-mile-an-hour winds.  Pinch-hitter Kyle Naughton singled to tie the game and Beau LaSalle also walked against Elkhart right-hander Brock Lipton.  The CP 15s then got another break as Negele's hard hit grounder to second base got past the luckless Hulva, allowing two runs to score.  One single and some patience at the plate had created a three-run rally.

"Our guys never get down on themselves," the CP manager insisted.  "We do like the first pitch, but we were popping it up.  We tried to make sure they were patient.  We're a fastball hitting team.  The pitching here was a little slower.  We really don't practice for slow pitching.  It takes a while to adjust."

"Our kids fed off each other.  In our Hammond game (the District II finals), we were down 1-0 for four innings.  Then we score a run and the kids are 'up' cheering each other on."

Crown Point scored seven times in the sixth inning as the hits were much easier to come by once the CP 15s took the lead.  Eli Kvachkoff, LaSalle, Josh Negele and Scott Donley had consecutive base hits off Elkhart relief pitcher Chance Hagen, turning a 6-3 lead into a 12-3 edge.

Eli Kvachkoff pitched the final two innings for Crown Point, allowing an unearned run.  Chance Hagen, a powerfully built 5-foot-5 right-handed hitter, was 3-for-4 for Elkhart and reached base all four times, while Tyler Nutting walked three times.  The Elkhart players are students at Elkhart Central and Elkhart Memorial high schools.

Josh Negele walked four, but he also struck out 11 and picked off two batters.  Spencer Rapchak was the only Crown Point batter who showed game-long patience against Elkhart.  With fans and teammates urging him to 'get a hold of one', Rapchak walked three times on 3-1 pitches and helped wear down the starting pitcher.  The final time up, Rapchak hit a long drive to deep center that was caught to end the sixth inning.  Kyle Naughton was 2-for-2 even though he did not enter the game until he pinch hit in the fifth inning.

"I thought he got us going," said manager Negele.  "I just had a feeling about him.  He didn't play a whole lot in the other tournament, but this pitcher was bothering us because he was slower and I thought Kyle could hit him.  I give him a lot of credit because it's not easy to come in and get base hits like he did."

The CP 15s are obviously going to have to get more than six base hits and six walks to survive this 12-team double-elimination tournament.  If they won Sunday, the 15s get an entire week off before playing in a winner's bracket semifinals Saturday, July 21 at LaPorte High School at 1:00 p.m.

"The pitching records carry over," explained manager Negele.  "You have seven innings every two games.  It doesn't matter how many days there are between the games."

Josh Negele, who was 7-0 on the CPHS freshman team this spring, and Scott Donley, who pitched the district final 10-1 win over Hammond, figure to alternate on the mound until the 15s need a third starting pitcher.  Beau LaSalle, who started the third district game on the mound, is also the starting catcher.

CP didn't hang around to scout other finals teams since their next opponent (the Blackford Babe Ruth all-stars) drew a bye.

"You can only play one at a time," Negele said.  "There's no point in looking ahead.  And even if you know who you're playing, you've still got to come out and play baseball."

RUTH NOTES:  Ron Reed Field is a beautiful, tree-lined ball park near a picturesque lake but no one will be unhappy when the tournament moves to LaPorte High School for the final rounds next Saturday (July 21).   Reed Field is uneven and tricky and 40-50 foot trees surrounding the ball diamond, which makes the winds confusing.

"The winds swirl," said manager Ric Negele, "and the field slopes (like the fairway at a golf course).  "We were looking at the flags and we couldn't tell which way the wind was blowing."

The raised stands at LaPorte's Schreiber Field are also superior to what exists at Reed Field, the home of the LaPorte Babe Ruth League.  At Ron Reed Field, the best seating is down the left and right field lines as the ball field is set into a rolling hilly area in a woodsy park.  Ron Reed was an 18-year major league baseball player for Atlanta, St. Louis, Philadelphia and the Chicago White Sox (he retired in 1985) who grew up in LaPorte and attended LaPorte High School.

Crown Point and Elkhart had the largest group of fans from any of the four teams Saturday afternoon and a few more people are expected to show up when the tourney moves to the high school, especially if the home league reaches the final eight.  LaPorte lost a first round game 5-2 to Hammond and they needed a win in an 8:00 p.m. Monday (July 16) game to stay alive and advance to the high school site.

Harris Township, the Penn high feeder league, is not among the 12 teams in the 12-team bracket at LaPorte.  Harris Township hosts the Ohio Valley Regional Tournament beginning on July 27 and they get a bye into that tourney as the host.

Crown Point is the defending Northern Indiana state Babe Ruth baseball champion, but that is deceptive because none of those players or coaches are still on the team.  Last year's CP 15s are now largely the American Legion Post 20 'B' team and state champ manager Marty Zubriggen is now the 'B' team manager.  The 2006 team won 10 games in a row before losing twice at the Ohio Valley Regional and finishing at 10-2.

Copyright 2007 and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: July 17, 2007.