Parker Smith has been voted as the 2023 Dick Crumback/Northeast Indiana Baseball Association High School Player of the Year. Playing for head coach Collin Bice at DeKalb High School in Waterloo, Ind., senior Smith has helped the Barons win an IHSAA Class 4A sectional title and a regional berth on Saturday, June 3. For the regular season, Smith played in 31 games and the righty swinger hit .436 (48-of-110) with one home run, three triples, nine doubles, 30 runs batted in and 30 runs scored. As a pitcher the Wabash (Ind.) College commit made eight appearances (five starts) and went 4-1 with three complete games, one shutout, one save, a 1.45 earned run average, 66 strikeouts and 23 walks in 38 2/3 innings. Parker will be honored pre-game at the Tuesday, June 13 Fort Wayne TinCaps game and at the NEIBA Hall of Fame induction banquet at 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 11 at Classic Cafe Catering & Event Center, 4832 Hillegas Road, Fort Wayne. Reservations to attend the banquet can be made at the following link: https://forms.gle/vibX4BKS2ZZjJPMg9. Tickets can also be purchased at the door. The DeKalb High School baseball program will also receive a $1,000 donation from the Crumback family and the Fort Wayne Baseball Federation in honor of Dick Crumback.
Brownstown Central — in its second season with Duane Higgs as head coach — has just won the third sectional baseball title in school history. The Braves beat Brown County 11-0, Milan 1-0 and Austin 4-2 to win the 2023 IHSAA Class 2A Austin Sectional. Junior Ethan Garland (6-2) was the winning pitcher against Brown County and Austin with the sectional title game being a two-hitter. In the semifinals against Milan, senior Carson Darlage (6-0) tossed a 15-strikeout one-hitter. As is BC athletics championship tradition, a fire truck ride and pep rally followed. “It was cool and the kids had a blast,” says Higgs, who is now preparing Brownstown Central (23-8) to meet Providence (25-3) in a one-game Class 2A regional at 11 a.m. ET Saturday, June 3 on the grass at Floyd Central. The winner moves on to semistate, where four teams will play three contests June 10 for the right to be in the 2A state championship game. Darlage (.481) plays center field and Garland (.402) shortstop when not on the mound. Others in the BC mix are senior Ethan Fultz at designated hitter, junior Trent Lowery at first base and pitcher, junior Quentin “Chick” Tiemeyer at second base, sophomore Dalton Reedy at catcher and pitcher, sophomore Pierson Wheeler at third base and a quartet of freshmen — catcher Grayson Cassidy, left fielder Preston Garrison, right fielder Lane Pendleton and utility man Jaxson Johnson. Recent BC graduates in college baseball include Ethan Davis (Marian University/Frontier Community College) and Jake Pauley (College of DuPage). Higgs says he sees collegiate potential for three-sport standout/left-hander Darlage (who plans to attend Purdue University), Garland and Lowery. Brownstown Central (enrollment around 480) is a member of the Mid-Southern Conference (with Austin, Charlestown, Corydon Central, Eastern of Pekin, North Harrison, Salem, Scottsburg and Silver Creek). Besides Austin, Brown County and Milan, Hauser, South Ripley, Southwestern (Hanover) and Switzerland County is in the sectional group with Brownstown. The Braves’ previous sectional crowns came in 1982 and 2016. Former head coach Steve Schrink won 482 games. Higgs is a 2003 graduate of Franklin County High School in Brookville, Ind., where he played for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jim Hughes (who died in 2018) and Clark Sherwood. “Coach Hughes is in the Hall of Fame for a reason,” says Higgs, who remembers the discipline and accountability stressed by the coach. “He ran a great program. That baseball field (which now bears his name) was his baby. “(Sherwood) taught a lot about the game and fundamentals.” Higgs’ BC assistants are Kyle Williams, Austin Greene (Brownstown Central Class of 2016) and Nigel Myers (Class of 2015). Brownstown Central feeders include a middle school program for seventh and eighth graders plus Brownstown Baseball Association, the traveling Brownstown Impact and other travel organizations. Higgs earned a Kinesiology degree from Indiana University in 2009. He was a middle school Physical Education teacher in Bedford schools for nine years. In 2022-23, he taught Engineering, Business Math, Credit Recovery, Physical Education and Health. He is slated to teach Business Math, P.E. and Health in 2023-24. Prior to Brownstown Central, he was an assistant baseball coach at Bloomington South 2008-13, head coach at Paoli 2014-15 and assistant at Bedford North Lawrence 2016-21. He also coached in the Zach McClellan-led Demand Command travel ball organization 2011-21. Higgs and girlfriend Mackenzi have a son — Hatcher (3).
Zach Wager sees rockets and spacecraft in his future. Right now he’s excelling on the baseball diamond. As an 18-year-old (he turned 19 on May 28), Wager (pronounced Way-Jer) pitched well enough in his first season at NCAA Division I University of Tennessee at Martin to earned Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year and a place on the all-OVC second team. “I came into the season with only one goal and that was to get on the all-conference team,” says Wager. “To get (Freshmen of the Year) was mind-blowing.” A left-hander and 2022 Columbus (Ind.) North High School graduate made 22 mound appearances for the Skyhawks (17 in relief) and went 2-1 with four saves, a 2.44 earned run average, 40 strikeouts and 20 walks in 44 1/3 innings. His major is Mechanical Engineering. He sees himself pursuing a masters in Aeronautical or Aerospace Engineering. “Space exploration is the main key. That’s what drives all this,” says Wager. “I want to help us go into space. I’m not sure I want to go into space.” His job wish list includes NASA, SpaceX, Boeing and Lockeed Martin. He landed at UT-Martin after being recruited by the school, visiting the school and meeting coaches and faculty. “They were going to honor my major (and not have me change it),” says Wager. “The classes are on the smaller side. It’s more one-on-one with the professor. “We were on the road a lot this spring (for baseball). I missed a couple tests. Teachers didn’t hesitate to help me out.” The Skyhawks baseball staff includes head coach Ryan Jenkins and pitching coach Bill White plus assistant Pat Cottrell and volunteer Alex Lozado (a graduate of Floyd Central High School in Floyds Knobs, Ind.). The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Wager delivers four-seam fastball, curveball, slider and change-up from a three-quarter overhand arm slot. His four-seamer runs and tops out at 87 mph. His curve moves on an 11-to-5 plane with vertical and a little horizontal movement. There’s move horizontal break to his slider. He uses a “circle” grip on his change-up. There’s just something about lefty movement. Wager explains how it works with him. “If you’re trying to throw a ball on the outside corner as a lefty you have to start the ball right down the middle so when it moves it’s going hit the outside corner,” says Wager. “If you start it there it’s just going to end up being a ball.” In assessing his best athletic qualities, Wager considers himself a good leader on and off the field. “I just try to create friendships,” says Wager. “If I see some struggling I pick them up. We all have those games. “It’s also about giving back to the community.” At UTM, Wager does community service. There is a daycare near the field and he donates to a food pantry. In high school, he had a two-part project where he gave pitching lessons to kids and built a plyo-ball wall for the baseball team. Born and raised in Columbus, Zach played at what is now Youth Baseball of Bartholomew County and for the traveling Indiana Vipers and Indiana Blazers — all coached by father Nathan Wager — then in high school for Canes Midwest. Wager played at Columbus North for two head coaches — Ben McDaniel for the first three years and Patrick Antone as a senior. “I loved Ben McDaniel as a coach,” says Wager of the man who got him to come to the Bull Dogs out of Northside Middle School. With his workload this spring, Wager has opted not to play this summer. He plans to work out and give lessons at Hit Factory in Columbus, where Hunter McIntosh (a Columbus North graduate who pitched at Alabama State University) is partner and CEO, and do remote and on-site training with Pineville, N.C.-based Tread Athletics. Nathan Wager is an engineering manager at Cummins. Mother Michelle Wager is a pharmacist. Older sister Caitlin Wager (who played softball at Columbus East High School) recently got into Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
It was a night of firsts. The summer wood-bat Northern League’s Elkhart (Ind.) County Miracle played its inaugural contest Wednesday, May 31 on the turf at NorthWood High School’s Field of Dreams Complex in Nappanee and earned the first victory in franchise history. Elkhart County bested the visiting Crown Point-based Lake County CornDogs 6-3 to make Wilson Valera a winner in his first game as Miracle manager. “It makes me feel very good and to play the best team in the league,” said Valera after the Miracle topped the NL champions from 2022 and gave them their first loss of the young 2023 season. “Now we know we can do it. Hopefully we can continue to play this way.” Elkhart County led 3-0. Lake County (4-1) tied it at 3-3 with three runs in the sixth inning. The Miracle responded with two in the bottom of the sixth and added one in the seventh.
On-field firsts … Starting lineup: lf Rickey Nye (1-3), 2b Cole Mason (0-3), 1b Bryce Lesher (1-5), c Javier Guevara (2-2), 3b Angel Perez (0-3), cf Jaden Miller (1-3), ss Evan Laws (2-4), dh Dylan Rost (0-3), rf Hunter Christunus (1-3), p Conor Gausselin (6 IP, 6 K’S, 3 BB). Strikeout: Gausselin fanned Lake County lead-off batter Zach Zychowski in the first inning. Hit: Lead-off man Nye’s single to center field to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Home run: Guevara’s three-run blast to left field in the first inning. Stolen base: Miller swiped second base after being hit by a pitch in the first inning. Double play: Third baseman Perez to second baseman Mason to first baseman Lesher in the fourth inning. Relievers: Right-hander Ethan Lengfelder in the seventh inning and righty Robino Vazquez Vallejo in the eighth and ninth. Umpires: Corey Stewart behind the plate and Steve Kajzer on the bases.
Off-the-field firsts … Ceremonial first pitch: William Lee (Vendor Bill’s Bar-B-Que). National anthem singer: Les Eads (member of Hideous Business, a band who entertained prior to the game). Mascot: Scooter made his gameday debut.
The homestand continues with games at 7 p.m. Thursday vs. the Indiana Panthers, Friday vs. the Southland Vikings and Saturday vs. Northwest Indiana Oilmen and 2 p.m. Sunday vs. the Indiana Panthers. Former Chicago Cubs player Ben Zobrist is slated to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and sign autographs Saturday.
Winchester (Ind.) Community High School won its first IHSAA sectional baseball title in 37 years on Memorial Day at Lapel. After besting Frankton 3-0 May 25, the Golden Falcons topped Lapel 1-0 May 29 for the program’s second championship. The other came in 1986 with Bill Bush as head coach. He coached from 1971-2000 and had his No. 7 retired two weeks ago. “It is a really big deal,” says Ken Hendrickson, a 1984 Winchester graduate who played for Bush and is in his fifth season as head coach and eighth on the Golden Falcons coaching staff. “Winchester had not won a sectional game (on the field) since 2008. We had a forfeit in the first round against Burris last year. I don’t count that because we didn’t earn that one.” Winchester (14-11) is now preparing for a one-game Class 2A regional at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, June 3 against 23-7 Eastern (Greentown) on the turf at Logansport’s Jim Turner Field. It’s about a 2 1/2-hour bus ride from Winchester. Hendrickson has coached three of Bush’s grandsons — Glenallen Anderson (Winchester Class of 2019), Will Anderson (Class of 2021) and McCormac Anderson (Class of 2026). Glenallen Anderson, who pitched at Winchester, went on to play at Wilmington (Ohio) College. Former Golden Falcons center fielder Will Anderson played for the Muncie Post 19 Chiefs that won the 2022 Indiana American Legion state championship. Aaron Anderson — father of Glenallen, Will and McCormac — is Hendrickson’s pitching coach. His other varsity assistants are Brian Cline and Bart Porfidio. Bradley Clark, Bryant Clark and Chandler Woodward guide the junior varsity as well as the seventh and eighth graders in the junior high program. “That is imperative,” says Hendrickson of the feeder program that also gives varsity coaches a chance to meet future players and to instill their systems. “They get an idea of what they’re coming into and it really helps when they’re freshmen.” There is also a local youth league that develops baseball talent. Position players who have been in starting roles in 2023 include three seniors (first baseman Noah Heaton, right fielder Trey Pullins and second baseman-designated hitter Charlie Sauser), one junior (second baseman Brock Goforth), three sophomores (third baseman Justin Cox, catcher Cooper Hummel and left fielder Drayvin Whitehead) and two freshmen (shortstop Anderson and center fielder Aidan Weatherhead). The pitching staff is led by three sophomore right-handers — Jace Allen (who tossed complete-game shutouts in the sectional against Frankton and Lapel), Whitehead and Cox and freshman lefty Landen Porfidio. “Our pitching has been really good, but our strength has really been our defense,” says Hendrickson. “We’re peaking at the right time.” The Golden Falcons have moved at tournament time in recent years. They have been part of the north (Sectional 40) since 2021. They were in the south (Sectional 41) 2016-19 after being in Sectional 40 in 2012-15 and Sectional 41 2008-21. Winchester (enrollment around 400) is a member of the Tri-Eastern Conference (with Cambridge City Lincoln, Centerville, Hagerstown, Knightstown, Northeastern, Tri, Union City and Union County). Besides Frankton and Lapel, Winchester’s sectional group includes Monroe Central, Muncie Burris and Wapahani. “East central Indiana is big baseball country,” says Hendrickson. Falcon Field — located in on-campus above the football field — is Winchester’s home diamond. It was built by Bush in the early 1970’s. The facility received a major upgrade a few years ago at the time the school got a new on-campus softball field. “Our field is absolutely gorgeous,” says Hendrickson. Coaches tend to maintenance. “I enjoy working on our field,” says Hendrickson. “It’s very relaxing to me. “Baseball coaches in general really take pride in their fields.” Hendrickson has worked in the Randolph County Sheriff’s office for 36 years as is currently Chief Deputy after serving eight years as Sheriff. Ken and Lisa Hendrickson will celebrate 27 years of marriage in September. Their son is 22-year-old Torin Hendrickson (Winchester Class of 2019), who played for his father.
Dylan Rost was born in Elkhart, Ind., and will be an infielder on the first Elkhart County Miracle summer baseball team. “It’s very close to home and I knew they were going to create a team that’s competitive of his decision to join the club — which is a hybrid of college and professional players — and opens the 2023 Northern League season at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 31 on the turf at NorthWood High School’s Field of Dreams Complex, 2101 N. Main St., Nappanee (accessible off S.R. 19 via C.R. 150). “The goal in the summer is to get reps, play competitive baseball and get better. “I think everybody’s excited to play and it’s cool to meet guys from all over.” Miracle founder Craig Wallin says a roster that will reach 25 and be led by manager Wilson Valera will represent six states and four nations — the United States, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Evan Sharpley, who helped put together the Miracle roster, reached out to Rost and the player accepted the invitation right away. “Being able to play with some buddies that I know was also going to be a big thing, too.” Rost, a 2021 Elkhart High School graduate, just completed his second season at the NCAA Division III University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In 2022-23, the 5-foot-9 Rost has played in 20 games for Warhawks teams that went 36-11 and 30-13. When looking for a college program, Rost was impressed the the school’s track record and facilities and contacted the UWW staff which includes head coach John Vodnelich, who has won 683 games and coached two NCAA D-III national championship teams (2005 and 2014). Last summer, the Whitewater team went to Europe with Vodenlich as its guide. “He had a ton of connections,” says Rost of Vodenlich, who played for the Warhawks then in Europe, including Slovenia. “We would be able to go to restaurants and they would be open just for us. “If I were to go by myself I wouldn’t have near the experience that I had.” The 2023 season opened March 15 with nine games in Pensacola, Fla. As a D-III school, the team practices for 16 days in the fall culminated with a five-game intrasquad series. “In November and December is no baseball at all, pretty much all weight room,” says Rost. “Once we get back from winter break in January we’re full go.” Rost, who turned 21 in February, is a General Management major. “I’ve had thoughts of going into teaching, working in an athletic office and coaching,” says Dylan, who is the oldest son of teacher/Elkhart head baseball coach Scott Rost and head volleyball coach/athletic director Jacquie Rost. Younger brother Quinn Rost (Elkhart Class of 2025) also plays baseball and football. Dylan began organized baseball at Cleveland Little League in Elkhart then went with the Michiana Scrappers travel organization through high school. Last summer he played in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., and expected to go back this summer by the CSL was dissolved. The Elkhart County Miracle has regular-season games slated until Aug. 3. Northern League (rebranded from the Midwest Collegiate League) opponents include the Northwest Indiana Oilmen, Lake County CornDogs, Indiana Panthers, Griffith Generals and Southland Vikings. Valera spent four days leading Miracle players through workouts at Elkhart High. “I can see a lot of potential in each one of them,” says Valera. “If we spend more time together we’re going to be stronger. “We are very young. Hopefully by the end of the season they are going home better than the way they came. “Our purpose is to work hard and be good human beings.” Josh Gleason, former Goshen College athletic director and current Area Director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, is the team chaplain. With Preston Andrews (NorthWood Class of 2024) as play-by-play announcer, Miracle games will be broadcast by Michiana Promotions on Federated Media stations (mostly on 101.9 FM or 1340 AM with Saturday night games will air on 95.3 MNC according to News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel.
Grant Lashure is now a junior catcher on the Eastern Illinois University baseball team bound for the June 2-5 NCAA Division I Nashville Regional. Lashure (pronounced Lasher) has played in 45 games for the 2023 EIU Panthers (41 starts) and the righty swinger is hitting .312 (49-of-157) with 11 doubles, 34 runs batted in and 23 runs scored. He is fielding at a .997 clip with 275 putouts and 25 assists. In his first season on the Charleston, Ill., campus (2022), Lashure appeared in 35 games (31 starts) and hit .286 (32-of-112) with three home runs, one triples, two doubles, 14 RBIs and 17 runs. His fielding mark was .996 with 251 putouts and 19 assists. While at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers High School, Lashure did not receive many offers to play college baseball. He committed to North Carolina Central University only to have that program suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lashure opted to stay at home and play for Ivy Tech Northeast Community College in Fort Wayne. He was familiar with Titans head coach Lance Hershberger and assistant Connor Wilkins. He played travel ball for them with the Northeast Indiana Buzz, Summit City Sluggers and Kekiongas. Lashure was not big as a youngster and has since filled out his 5-foot-10 frame at 180 pounds. He appreciates the fundamentals and “small ball” he learned from Hershberger. “He taught the game extremely well,” says Lashure of Hershberger. “He allowed me to become the player I am today. “He allowed me to focus on the little things. With Coach Hershberger, I started to know the game and get a lot better. I became a more well-rounded player.” Lashure credits Wilkins for helping to hone his catching skills — things like, mobility, set-up, receiving, throwing and blocking. Born in Mooresville, N.C., Lashure moved to Fort Wayne as he was entering fourth grade. He was with the James Ball-coached Fort Wayne Cubs (now the Fort Wayne Diamondbacks) for his 10U to 12U travel seasons then was part of the 13U Strike Zone Spiders. He played a little second base as a Luers freshman, but Lashure was mostly a catcher as a four-year Knights varsity player. His head coaches were Gary Rogers the first two years and Jeff Stanski the last two. Grant says he is grateful to Rogers for giving him an opportunity to play with older brother Luke Lashure (Luers Class of 2016). The summer after graduation (2019), Grant played in the local men’s league with the Fort Wayne Blues. When he got to Ivy Tech, he got to play 30 games in the fall and just 11 in the spring because of the shortened 2020 season. But he continued learning and improving while working with Wilkins. “When you’re getting a lot of reps you’re going to get better,” says Lashure. In 2021, he played in 55 games (53 starts) and hit a team-best .421 (67-of-159) with two homers, one triple, 11 doubles, 52 RBIs and 46 runs. A .993 fielder, he collected 248 putouts and 37 assists. Lashure was with the Appalachian League’s Greeneville (Tenn.) Flyboys for 14 games in the summer of 2021. This summer, Lashure is to be with the MLB Draft League’s State College (Pa.) Spikes. But before that comes the postseason at Eastern Illinois. The Jason Anderson-coached Panthers followed up a 33-20 mark in 2022 by losing players who decided not to take their extra year of eligibility or enter the Transfer Portal. Among those was Jesse Wainscott (a right-hander and graduate of Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis who landed at Arizona State University). “We were left scrambling,” says Lashure. “We had a lot of arms to replace.” Even so, the team got off to a 12-4 start in 2023. But a 5-9 stretch came next. “We worried about making the (Ohio Valley Conference) tournament at a certain point in our season,” says Lashure. “We had to play as a team. Not just one individual was going to carry us. “We all competed.” The team ended the regular season on a seven-game win streak, including a three-game sweep at Southeast Missouri and went into the OVC tournament in Marion, Ill., as the No. 5 seed. Playing six games in four days, EIU went 5-1, beating No. 1 seed Morehead State for the NCAA tournament bid. “We took the longest route to the championship,” says Lashure. The Nashville Regional is hosted by No. 1 seed Vanderbilt (No. 6 of 16 national seeds) and also includes No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Xavier and No. 4 Eastern Illinois (38-19). Lashure, who turns 23 on June 18, earned a General Studies associate degree at Ivy Tech and is an Exercise Science major at Eastern Illinois. Mike and Monica Lashure have six children — Luke, Grant, Leah, Nick, Anthony and Veronica. Mike Lashure is Director of New Market Development for Schafer Industries. Monica Lashure is a stay-at-home mom. Luke Lashure played one baseball season at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne. Leah Lashure played tennis at Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger High School and is now a art/substitute teacher at Our Lady of Good Hope School in Fort Wayne. Nick Lashure (Dwenger Class of 2024) is a prep baseball and football athlete. Anthony Lashure finished eighth grade. He plays baseball and basketball. Veronica Lashure, 6, is just getting started in school.
The Greyhounds had another chance to dogpile and the Sycamores kept rolling along. That was the past week for baseball teams at the University of Indianapolis and Indiana State University. UIndy — a No. 7 seed when the postseason began — beat Quincy twice on its own field to win a super regional and the Al Ready-coached Greyhounds (39-19) earned a spot in the NCAA Division II World Series June 3-10 in Cary, N.C. No. 1 seed Indiana State followed a Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title with a MVC tournament championship on its own field — besting Evansville in the “if necessary” game to clinch the eighth tourney title in program history. The Mitch Hannahs-coached Sycamores (42-14 overall and 34-4 in its last 38 games) will now host an NCAA Division I regional. The selections will be announced later today (May 29).
Also, No. 3 seed Ball State won the Mid-American Conference tournament title at Kent State and await an NCAA regional assignment. The Rich Maloney-coached Cardinals (36-21) were swept by the Golden Flashes May 18-20 in Muncie then topped Central Michigan once and Kent State twice in tournament play.
Seasons ended in conference tournaments for No. 4 seed Evansville (Missouri Valley), No. 8 seed Notre Dame (Atlantic Coast), No. 8 seed Southern Indiana (Ohio Valley) and No. 6 seed Purdue Fort Wayne (Horizon League). At 37-24, Evansville produced its most wins since 2006.
The NCAA Division I RPI (Rating Percentage Index) rankings through May 28 has Wake Forest as the overall No. 1. Among the state’s schools, Indiana State is No. 9, Indiana No. 30, Notre Dame No. 54, Evansville No. 72, Ball State No. 101, Valparaiso No. 149, Purdue No. 207, Butler No. 236, Southern Indiana No. 275 and Purdue Fort Wayne 276. After conference tournaments comes the national tournament selection announcement on Monday, May 29 (Memorial Day).
Heading into Memorial Day games, Taylor was 2-0 and Indiana Wesleyan 1-1 in the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. The Kyle Gould-coached Trojans are 42-15. The Rich Benjamin-coached Wildcats are 40-19-1.
Thursday, May 25 Morehead State 2, Eastern Illinois 1 Arkansas-Little Rock 4, Tennessee Tech 1 Eastern Illinois 8, Tennessee Tech 2
Friday, May 26 Morehead State 3, Arkansas-Little Rock 2 Eastern Illinois 5, Arkansas-Little Rock 1
Saturday, May 27 Championship Eastern Illinois 6, Morehead State 5
Horizon League Tournament (At Dayton, Ohio) Wednesday, May 24 Milwaukee 12, Youngstown State 3 Northern Kentucky 6, Purdue Fort Wayne 3
Thursday, May 25 Wright State 6, Milwaukee 3 Oakland 13, Northern Kentucky 8 Milwaukee 10, Northern Kentucky 8
Friday, May 26 Oakland 6, Wright State 5 Wright State 2, Milwaukee 1
Saturday, May 27 Championship Wright State 14, Oakland 0
NCAA D-II Midwest Super Regional (At Quincy, Ill.) Friday, May 26 Indianapolis 4, Quincy 3 Saturday, May 27 Championship Indianapolis 5, Quincy 2
NAIA NAIA World Series (At Lewiston, Idaho) Friday, May 26 Taylor 6, MidAmerica Nazarene 5 Westmont 7, Cumberlands 3 William Carey 6, Bellevue 4 Lewis-Clark State 12, Indiana Wesleyan 4
Saturday, May 27 MidAmerica Nazarene 4, Cumberlands 3 Indiana Wesleyan 5, Bellevue 3 Taylor 23, Georgia Gwinnett 7 Southeastern 5, Lewis-Clark State 2
Sunday, May 28 No games
Monday, May 29 Georgia Gwinnett vs. Indiana Wesleyan Lewis-Clark State vs. MidAmerica Nazarene Taylor vs. Westmont William Carey vs. Southeastern
Tuesday, May 30 3 games
Wednesday, May 31 2 games
Thursday, June 1 Championship
Friday, June 2 If necessary game
National Christian College World Series (At Kansas City) Monday, May 22 Mid-America Christian 6, Southwestern Christian 3 Trinity Christian 7, Oakland City 6 College of the Ozarks 10, Fort Lauderdale 1 Southwestern Christian 9, College of the Ozarks 8 Trinity Christian 11, Mid-America Christian 10
Tuesday, May 23 Southwestern 14, Trinity Christian 4 (8 inn.) Championship Mid-America Christian 3, Southwestern Christian 2 (10 inn.)
“Let’s go on a cowhide joyride!” It’s become the home run call for young baseball broadcaster Andrew Mild. Bringing his love of the game and excitement to his job, the northwest Indiana native is in his first season as the play-by-play voice of the Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (Waldorf, Md.). “Every game is a big game — it’s a baseball game,” says Mild. “I’ve listened to too many boring broadcasters.” Mild, who was born in Hammond, Ind. the son of Mark and Becky Mild and the older brother of Breeann, grew up in nearby Crown Point as a Chicago Cubs fan. Mom’s favorite from the 1980’s was Rick Sutcliffe. Breeann Mild (Crown Point, Ind., High School Class of 2020) is now a pre-med student at Purdue University. Andrew bonded with his father with Len Kasper as Cubs TV play-by-play man. Pat Hughes and Ron Santo formed the radio tandem. Hall of Famer Harry Caray died before Andrew was born, but he appreciates his passion. “He brought the excitement and was kind of like the No. 1 fan,” says Mild. “I grew up a baseball fan. My baby pictures were taken in a giant glove. “I just want to bring that excitement and for people to be interested, laugh and have a great time. I want to build a connection. I don’t want to be the next Harry Caray. I want to be the first Andrew Mild.” The young broadcaster has noticed that Hughes talks slow and gets excited when necessary. “You listen to these guys over 100 times a year and you start to develop your own relationship with them,” says Mild. “Ron Santo was so invested.” As an eighth grader at Col. John Wheeler Middle School, Mild went as Hall of Fame slugger Ted Williams for “Wax Museum” day. “I love hitting,” says Mild. “It’s the hardest thing to do in sports. You can fail 7 out of 10 times and still be the best hitter in the league. Ted had a passion for it and I have a passion for it.” Andrew grew up playing baseball and Wiffle@Ball with cousin Riley Clark. “He supposedly taught me how to hit left-handed,” says Mild. “I do everything righty except for golf and bat.” Mild, who turns 24 in July, learned about the gig with the Blue Crabs through TeamworkOnline.com. He sent in an application and his reel developed during his seasons with the Frontier League’s Windy City ThunderBolts and Northern League’s Lake County CornDogs and went through a few interviews. He was offered the job and moved to Maryland in mid-February. Mild does not have a broadcast partner at Southern Maryland. There is a producer in the booth at home, but he’s on his own for road games. “You just have to be prepared,” says Mild. “The good news is that we have so many great guys on the team that I can talk to before the game. A lot of them are willing to tell good stories and I relay that. “Fans just love the stories.” Field staff for the Blue Crabs is manager Stan Cliburn, pitching coach Daryl Thompson, bench coach Ray Ortega and hitting coach Brandon Lee. Aside from play-by-play, Mild prepares game notes, distributes lineups (at home), interviews players after a win and feeds social media and the online scoreboard. FloSports.tv is the live streaming partner of the Atlantic League. The Blue Crabs use streamlabs.com software to produce their scoreboard and other video elements. Mild typically has a team and a personal lap top open with his scorebook next to the mixer. “It keeps me on my toes,” says Mild. “But I don’t know if I’d want to do anything else.” A 2018 honors diploma graduate of Crown Point High, where he played baseball through his junior year, Mild got to broadcast for a league champion in his hometown in 2022. “The CornDogs’ first season was so instrumental to the rest of the league,” says Mild. “The other cities can see just how well it did in Crown Point. I give all credit (CornDogs majority owner) Ralph (Flores). He built a really strong team in a really strong place. “The nice thing about Legacy Fields in Crown Point is that it’s right on the border of Crown Point and Merrillville and Schererville is right there. We got a mixture of guys on that team. We had a packed house every night. I had a great time being the first voice of the team and getting my feet wet being the No. 1 (broadcaster) for a collegiate team. Winning the whole thing, that was great.” Mild was an intern at Windy City in 2021 while making a transition from being a Sport Management/Communications double major at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., — where he was an outfielder on the baseball team — to a Sports Media major with a Marketing minor at Butler University in Indianapolis. He partnered in the ThunderBolts booth with No. 1 broadcaster Connor Onion. “I always came in ready,” says Mild. “I was always asking Connor and my boss — Terry Bonadonna — what I could do better. “They were always willing to talk to me about broadcasting. That’s why I was there — to learn and get better. “They understood my passion. They knew whatever they told me wasn’t just going to be wasted air. What can I keep? What do I get rid of? Trying to slow down my talking was a big thing. “Now I tell myself if you feel like you’re talking too slow you’ve got the right pace. I’m a natural introvert and I became a broadcaster. Good for me.” Mild also got many practice reps on his friend’s MLB: The Show video game or by muting a contest on TV or online. Lecturer/head of Butler+ Media Nick White presented many on-air opportunities while Mild finished up his degree in December 2022 — about two months before landing his current position. “Life comes at you fast as Ferris Bueller once said,” says Mild. “I try to look around every once in awhile.” Another way Mild sharpened his skills was to call games for Crown Point Babe Ruth. Andrew’s grandfather — John Pearson — is president of the league and was an umpire in the first Cal Ripken World Series. Grandmother Gale Pearson is always around the park. His parents are also board members. “It was great, especially during COVID when fans couldn’t really attend the games,” says Mild of broadcasting games on Facebook Live. “They could see and hear everything. “Helping them out during a time of crisis was my way of giving back to the game and the people who love the sport.” His first partner was Alex Coil, who is a graduate of Valparaiso (Ind.) High School and Arizona State University and now a play-by-play announcer for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. Onion introduced Mild to Bob Carpenter’s Baseball Scorebook. “I like it because it gives you lots of space to write down notes,” says Mild. “It allows you to put the defense on top of the opposing lineup. If I forget the guys’ name I can look down and look back up and I know I have time to put together a sentence and call the play. “The good part is that you spend so much time with your guys that you can just look at them and know immediately who it is. It might take you the first game of a series to learn the other guys. But after a few games you get into a rhythm and know who that is.” Mild does not have a broadcast partner at Southern Maryland. There is a producer in the booth at home, but he’s on his own at the road. “You just have to be prepared,” says Mild “The good news is that we have so many great guys on the team that I can talk to before the game. A lot of them are willing to tell good stories and I relay that. “Fans just love the stories.” Aside from play-by-play, Mild prepares game notes, distributes lineups (at home), interviews players after a win and feeds social media and the online scoreboard. He typically has a team and a personal lap top open with his scoreboard next to the mixer. “It keeps me on my toes,” says Mild. “But I don’t know if I’d want to do anything else.” Rule experiments in the Atlantic League in 2023 include the designated pinch-runner, single disengagement limit and “Double Hook” designated hitter. Each club will list a player who is not otherwise in the starting lineup as a designated pinch-runner. That player may then be substituted at any point into the game as a baserunner. The player who is substituted for, as well as the pinch-runner, may then return to the game without penalty. South Maryland’s designated runner is switch-hitting outfielder and former collegiate track and field champion sprinter J.T. Reed. The disengagement rule relates to the pitch clock and keeps pitchers from abusing the system while also leading runners to take more daring leads. If the starting pitcher fails to make it through fifth inning, the club loses the DH for the remainder of the game and must either have its pitcher hit or use pinch-hitters when that spot comes up in the batting order. Like Major League Baseball, the Atlantic League has a pitch clock, 3-batter minimum, wider bases, banned the shift and “ghost runner” or extra-inning free runner. The broadcaster disagrees with a scoring decision that sometimes comes with the latter rule. He also understands why things like this have been implemented. “If the ghost runner scores it should not be a blown save,” says Mild. “We’re getting to the point where there are so many things you can turn to that are streaming and at your finger tips, you need something that is going to interest them and keep their attention. That is scoring more runs at a higher volume even if it means changing the rules of the game. “This pitch clock, I love it. We had a 14-2 game last night and it only went 2 1/2 hours. You could add a few seconds, but otherwise it’s a great rule. “After awhile hitters and pitchers get used to it. Hitters are not stepping out of the box and pitchers are working a little faster.” Mild is living his dream. “I’d like to thank the game of baseball and my friends for supporting me throughout the whole process,” says Mild. “They challenged me to be better.”
Tyler Nemtuda did not get to pitch in a competitive baseball game for three years. He got the chance to get back in the game in 2023 and he made the most of it. A left-hander and 2020 graduate of Portage (Ind.) High School, Nemtuda lost his senior season with the Indians to the COVID-19 pandemic. While competing in a travel-ball PBR Future Games event at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., Nemtuda attracted the attention of coaches at Florence-Darlington Technical College — a junior college in Florence, S.C. He went for a visit and decided to become a Flo-Dar Stinger. But a car accident about a year into school caused him to drop all his classes and miss out on the 2021 baseball season. Just before the 2022 slate, Nemtuda dislocated his left knee cap. He had surgery and missed that campaign as well. “I had a pretty rough two years,” says Nemtuda. He began running and throwing last July. With his knee on the mend, he got to play for the first time since his junior year at Portage. This spring, the southpaw played for head coach head coach Preston McDonald, pitching coach Jeremy McDonald (not relation to Preston) and assistant pitching coach Ryan Smith and made 18 mound appearances (16 in relief), going 3-1 with two saves, a 3.77 earned run average, 32 strikeouts and 15 walks in 28 2/3 innings. “They told us to work hard, never give up and do your best every time you go out there,” says Nemtuda of his Flo-Dar coaches. “We learned a lot, made a lot of friends and had a good time.” Throwing from an arm slot between three-quarter overhand and sidearm, the lefty uses a two-seam fastball, slider and change-up. The two-seamer can move into or away a hitter on either side of the plate and sits at 87 to 89 mph and has topped out at 90. “That’s like my best pitch right now,” says Nemtuda. “I have a lot of arm-side run and then it will sometimes cut into righties, too. I get a lot of ground balls. He also gets plenty of swings and misses with the fastball when he puts it inside or up in the strike zone. The slider moves to left to right, landing on the back foot of a right-handed hitter. His change-up is a three-finger splitter with the ring and pointer fingers placed outside of his two-seam grip. Nemtuda earned an associate degree in Arts at Florence-Darlington and is committed to join the Bearcats of NCAA Division II Lander University in Greenwood, S.C., in the fall while studying Business Administration. Jason Burke is Lander’s head coach. Alex Moore is pitching coach. The Bearcats are Peach Belt Conference members. Baseball and school keep him busy, but when he has time Nemtuda enjoys fishing. He tends to go for brown trout, steelhead and bass at home and bass in South Carolina. Tyler was born in Chesterton, Ind., and and attended school there until moving to nearby Portage after his freshman year as his father went there for a basketball coaching job. Father Bob Nemtuda is now a Physical Education teacher at Liberty Elementary School in Chesterton. Mother Tracy Nemtuda is nurse for Ambiomed. Older sister Taylor Nemtuda was involved in cross country, tennis and some basketball at Chesterton. Tyler played baseball at what is now Liberty Rec Babe Ruth and State Park Little League — both in Chesterton — and then went into travel ball with the Chesterton-based Duneland Flyers, Illinois-based Elite Baseball and the Indiana Bulls. He was on the Chesterton High School junior varsity as a freshman and the Portage varsity as a sophomore and junior. He played first base and right field when not pitching. His coaches were Bob Dixon and John Selman. “They were just great coaches that would help you with anything,” says Nemtuda. “I lift a lot. They’d always open the gym and weight room for me, which was awesome. “I still talk to them to this day.” Former Portage head coach Doug Nelson has also given facilities access to Nemtuda. This summer, Nemtuda is with the Northern League’s Northwest Indiana Oilmen. The Adam Enright-managed team is to open its season today (May 25) at Lake County (Crown Point, Ind.) with the home opener at Oil City Stadium in Whiting, Ind., June 7.