By STEVE KRAH
The South took an early 4-0 lead and held on for a 4-3 win Sunday, June 26 in Game 3 of the 2022 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series.
By going 2-1 during the weekend at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, the South cut the North’s all-time series lead to 69-68.
Eastside’s Owen Willard was selected as 2022 BSN Sports Don Jennings MVP Award. The Purdue Fort Wayne recruit struck out all six batters he faced in Game 1 Saturday and went 4-of-7 with two runs batted in and two runs scored across three games.
“I definitely had the curveball working. I threw that a lot,” said right-hander Willard of his mound outing. “The hitters struggled with (the curve) and I tried to sneak a fastball on the outer corner.
“I got a lot of swing-and-misses with my curveball. I worked ahead (in the count). That’s how I got those outs.”
Willard described his offensive philosophy — with a metal or wood bat.
“I try to see ball, hit ball almost,” said righty-swinging Willard. “I just wait on a fastball and get one I can hit. That’s my mentality.
“Before this weekend I was leaning toward going to (college) is a (pitcher-only). After this weekend I feel like I can with some of the big dogs and give it a shot.”
Willard said he would remember his performance, but that’s not all.
“Meeting all these people that I can call my friends now,” said Willard. “I hadn’t met most of these people. I can have a conversation with them anytime now.”
Owen got to share the all-star experience closely with his father.
Aaron Willard retired as Eastside head coach after the 2022 season and was selected as part of the North coaching staff.
“This was the last high school baseball game he’ll ever coach,” said Owen. “This is pretty cool.”
Two runs in the seventh pulled the North to within 4-3.
Willard lashed a lead-off triple and scored on a wild pitch.
Indiana State University-bound Jacob Pruitt (Yorktown) singled and trotted home on a two-out double by Earlham College recruit Nick Turner (Seeger).
The North cut the gap to 4-1 with one run in the fifth.
Joey Spin (Caston) singled and scored on a double by Huntington University-bound Jordan Malott (Fort Wayne Carroll).
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee recruit Luke Smock (Delphi) followed with a single. South right fielder and Rockhurst University-bound Landon Carr (Northview) threw to catcher and Lincoln Trail College recruit Oscar Pegg (Shakamak) to cut down Malott out at the plate.
A two-run third gave the South a 4-0 advantage.
The first two hitters — Pegg and Quincy University-bound Joe Huffman (Avon) walked. Both scored on the same play — a sacrifice fly by Anderson University recruit Jake Winzenread (Lawrence North) and a North throwing error.
The South tallied two runs in the top of the first inning for a 2-0 lead.
Bellarmine University-bound Charlie Rife (Shelbyville) smacked a lead-off double and Pegg was hit by a pitch. Both scored on a one-out single by Winzenread.
The South used three pitchers for three innings each — left-hander Ethan Lyke (Evansville Central) and right-handers Drew Howard (Forest Park) Tate Warner (Fishers). Lyke is headed to Murray State University, Howard to the University of Evansville and Warner to Indiana Wesleyan.
North’s pitching was shared by six players — Indiana University recruit Brayden Risedorph (East Noble) for 1 1/3 innings, Ball State University-bound Cole Wise (Northwestern) for 1 2/3, Indiana Wesleyan recruit Will Eldridge (Carroll of Flora) for two, Belmont University-bound Dalton Wasson (Heritage) for two, Ohio State University recruit Keaton Mahan (Westfield) for one and University of Saint Francis-bound Luke Siren (Fort Wayne Northrop) for one. Mahan is a lefty. The rest are right-handers.
The game featured five double plays — three for the South (second, fourth and sixth) and two for the North (seventh and ninth).
According to IHSBCA Executive Director Brian Abbott, the 2023 North/South All-Star Series and Futures Game is to be held in Lafayette the week following the IHSAA State Finals.