La PORTE — It took La Porte Post 83 Hamon Gray a mere one inning to seize the momentum.
From there, pitching and defense did the rest on somewhat of a rainy Wednesday night.
La Porte plated five runs in the opening inning, and Caleb McGuire, Collin Howard and Luke Swistek totaled 10 strikeouts, while the defense committed only one error, resulting in a 9-3 victory over Bristol Post 143 in an American Legion Junior Division baseball nine-inning game at Ron Reed Field.
“Every miscue they had we took advantage of it, and it shows,” Howard said.
“And then, we came out swinging for the first-pitch fastball. We knew he was going to throw it. We've been told the whole time, 'Swing the bat, good things will happen.'”
At the outset, La Porte (4-5) built a 5-0 cushion in the bottom of the first by pouncing on three walks, including a leadoff base-on-balls.
Cayden George drew the leadoff walk and later scored on Spencer Noveroske's RBI single to left field. Later, Seth Kupres had a bases-loaded walk to force in a run, and Noah Christian followed by smacking a two-run base hit to deep left. Kupres then touched home on a wild pitch.
“We took advantage of their miscues defensively, as well as the pitching,” La Porte coach Kevin McGuire said. “Their pitching wasn't quite there in the first inning with their No. 1 pitcher.”
At the same time, Coach McGuire was particularly pleased with Noveroske and Christian's at-bats in the opening frame.
"They took advantage of the count and put a good bat on the ball," he added. "Noah was ahead 2-1 in the count and he put a good swing on a good pitch. You know they've got to come to you and throw a strike. And you just take advantage of it and drive the ball. We try and take advantage of Noah's legs, he's a really quick kid. That's one of the things we love about having him on the team."
The 5-0 margin was more than enough for La Porte's pitchers, who allowed three runs.
The starter McGuire, a La Porte High School sophomore, surrendered two runs, scattering five hits in five innings in recording the win. He finished with four strikeouts and a pair of walks.
Howard, a La Porte High School junior, relieved McGuire to begin the sixth and threw 3 1/3 innings. He gave up one run on just one hit, fanning five and walking none.
Swistek closed the contest and got the last two outs. The Michigan City High School junior allowed no runs on one hit, striking out one and walking none.
“The pitching was fabulous tonight,” Coach McGuire said. “Caleb (McGuire) did a great job just keeping them off balance and mixing the offspeed (pitches) in. And Pauly (Collin Howard) did a fabulous job and just threw strikes. Caleb was starting off on top, just making sure you're ahead in the count, because then you can start working your pitches in. He was hitting his spots pretty well.”
Bristol pulled within 5-2 with single runs in the fourth and fifth.
But La Porte responded with a two-run sixth and a two-run seventh to distance itself.
In the sixth, La Porte again capitalized on wild Bristol pitching, parlaying three walks into a pair of runs.
Nathan Galinowski, a La Porte High School sophomore, who begin the rally with a leadoff walk, later was driven in by Luke Poulin's RBI groundout to third. Later, Alex Contreas, a Michigan City High School sophomore, who also walked, scored on a wild pitch. That pushed La Porte's lead to 7-2.
An inning later, La Porte tacked on a pair of insurance runs by pouncing on an error and a hit batter.
McGuire and Contreas each had RBI singles in the inning as well.
For the game, Christian led La Porte, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and reaching base three times. George and Kupres both singled and walked with Kupres having an RBI.
This was originally scheduled to be two, seven-inning games, but the two teams decided to play one, nine-inning contest instead.
La Porte Post #83 9, Bristol Post #143 3
La Porte’s Caleb McGuire, Collin Howard and Luke Swistek combined for 10 strikeouts.