Hustle on the base paths helped Indianapolis Lutheran High School baseball set theft records the past two seasons. Josh Meaney, who moves up to head coach in 2023 after two years as a volunteer on Adam Gouker’s staff, will again have the Saints running. “Being aggressive is what wins ball games,” says Meaney, who saw Indianapolis Lutheran go 22-9, win the program’s 14th sectional title in 2022 while amassing 186 stolen bases. That number eclipsed the mark of 174 set in 2021. “We’re staying focused at all times no matter the situation — whether we’re down 10 runs or up 10 runs,” says Meaney. “Stay focused with the mission because at any point the tide could change. “Stay aggressive and never feel like you have enough runs and continue to put pressure on the other team.” Meaney subscribes to the system established by New York Yankees baserunning coordinator and Fort Wayne Dwenger High School graduate Matt Talarico (who spoke at the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association State Clinic in January and has addressed the American Baseball Coaches Association Convention on the big stage). “We don’t need to be fast to steal bags,” says Meaney. “It’s all about timing.” Meaney accepted the head coach job — his first at the high school level — last in the summer of 2022. The Saints took part in conditioning during the fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period. This winter, players have got in infield and outfield work on the turf football field when the weather has permitted. There’s also been weight and speed training. Pitchers have been getting used to mechanics so they are ready when it comes time to start ramping up their arms for the season. Indianapolis Lutheran (enrollment around 250) is a member of the Indiana Crossroads Conference (with Beech Grove, Cardinal Ritter, Cascade, Monrovia, Scecina Memorial, Speedway and Triton Central). The Saints are part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping in 2023 with Edinburgh, Eminence, Greenwood Christian Academy, Indianapolis Metropolitan and Morristown. Meaney’s assistants are Russell Parker, Jonas Akers and Jacob Cutter. The expectation is that there will be 21 or 22 players for varsity and junior varsity games. Meaney says the varsity and JV will not play on the same days and he and Parker will go with the JV to evaluate that group. Located on-campus next to the tennis courts and softball diamond, Dick Alter Field is the home of Saints Baseball. Meaney says new fencing is going up down the first base line. Plans call for padding to the be added to the backstop. Fundraising is being done with the hopes of adding a press box and upgrading bleacher seating. Alter coached baseball in central Indiana for four decades, including several years at Indianapolis Lutheran. The high school typically gets most of its students from four Lutheran K-8 school on the southeast side of Indy. The Junior Saints is a team for Grades 6-8 that is coached by Indianapolis Lutheran alum Bryce Lucas. “We want him to build that program and run the same style of baseball (as the high school),” says Meaney. Recent alums playing college baseball include Class of 2019’s Noah Wood (Franklin College) and Class of 2022’s Sean Moore (Lake Erie College). A 1995 graduate of Martinsville (Ind.) High School, Meaney played the outfield at Decatur Central as a freshman and the last three years with the Artesians and IHSBCA Hall of Famer Bill Tutterow. “Not too many people can say they played for a Hall of Fame coach,” says Meaney. “At the time — as a young kid — I didn’t understand what it takes to be honest with your players and let them know where they stand and treat them as young men and not children. It empowers them to work on their own which increased their ability to play baseball. “I take a little bit of that into my coaching.” Meaney also coaches for the Baseball Academics Midwest travel organization and coached many years in the Little League at Brownsburg and Decatur Central. After high school, Meaney served in the U.S. Marines from 1996-2000. He is now a laboratory technician at SRT Prosthetics & Orthotics in Indianapolis. Josh and Robin Meaney have three children — Ahkena Gaines-Meaney (18), Gage Meaney (15) and Nico Meaney (12). Gage is a freshman baseball player at Indianapolis Lutheran.
Several players doubled down on power during the Indiana college baseball week of Feb. 28-March 6. NCAA Division III Hanover’s Alex Christie (Center Grove High School graduate) knocked five home runs for the week — two against Purchase and one each against Mary Washington, Kean and Neumann — in Myrtle Beach, S.C. It was Christie’s first five homers of the 2022 season. Also lofting five homers was NAIA Indiana Wesleyan’s Evan Salmon — two homers in Game 1 and one in Game 2 against Cleary and one apiece in Games 3 and 4 against Spring Arbor. IWU’s Zach Rabe clouted two in Game 1 against Cleary and two in Game 3 against Spring Arbor. Salmon has eight homers in ’22 and Rabe four. NCAA D-I’s Ball State’s Trenton Quartermaine socked four home runs for the week — one against Coastal Carolina, one in Game 1 against Florida A&M and two in Game 2 against Florida A&M. Quartermaine’s season total for circuit clouts is five. NAIA Indiana Southeast’s Trevor Campbell homered twice against Lindsey Wilson and once each in Games 1 and 3 against Northwestern Ohio. Ray Aponte smacked homers against Lindsey Wilson and Northwestern Ohio (Games 1 and 3). NCAA D-III Franklin’s Logan Demkovich (Munster) homered in all three games against Hope while Noah Wood (Indianapolis Lutheran) produced big flies in Games 1 and 2. Purdue’s Cam Thompson cracked a walk-off homer as Purdue (12-0) topped Longwood 6-5 in 11 innings in Game 3 of the series. The Boilermakers continue to enjoy the best start in program history. Thompson has two homers in ’22. Indiana’s Brock Tibbitts (New Albany) rapped two homers against Miami (Ohio) while teammates Matthew Ellis (Miami and Game 2 vs. Missouri State) and Homestead graduate Carter Mathison (Games 1 and 3 vs. Missouri State) also enjoyed two-homer weeks. Ellis has five dingers on the year while Tibbitts and Mathison (the 2021 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year) have two each. Butler’s Aaron Steinhart went deep twice against Northern Kentucky. The blasts were his first two of ’22. Evansville’s Tanner Craig (Austin) cranked homers against Kentucky, Ohio (Game 1) and Illinois-Chicago (Game 2). He has six homers on the season. At 5-3, Valparaiso is off to its best eight-game start since 1999. NCAA D-II University of Indianapolis third baseman Armen Torosian homered in Games 2 and 3 against Wayne State, raising his season total to three. Purdue Northwest finally opened its season and went 3-1 in a series at Southwest Baptist. Anderson’s Tyler Smitherman (Westfield) bashed two homers in Game 1 against St. Norbert, doubling his season HR tally. Earlham’s Christian Lancianese homered twice in Game 2 against Wilmington. Nathan Lancianese homered once in Game 3 of the series. They were the season’s first bombs for both players. Manchester’s Brady Perez (Rochester) ahieved lift-off in Games 2 and 4 against Kalamazoo, raising his season HR mark to five. Rose-Hulman’s Shane Garner (Sullivan) rapped his first two homers of ’22 in Game 1 against Saint Mary’s (Minn.) and Dubuque. NAIA Saint Francis freshman Sam Pesa (Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger) homered in Games 1 and 3 against Huntington. His grand slam in Game 1 was part of a 13-run fifth inning. Pesa has a team-best five homers in ’22. Goshen’s Peyton Smith (Daleville) homered in Games 3 and 4 against Grace. He has three homers on the season. It wasn’t all about slugging. NAIA Indiana University Kokomo posted three shutouts against visiting Ohio Christian — 5-0, 10-0 and 1-0. Owen Callaghan (Hamilton Southeastern), Lucas Letsinger (Hamilton Heights), Ben Harris (Northwestern), J.T. Holton (Clinton Central) and Ryan Beck (Mt. Vernon of Fortville) combined for 18 strikeouts and six walks over 23 innings. Indiana University South Bend beat Concordia (Neb. 1) 2-1 in Game 2 in Auburndale, Fla., without a hit. Nolan Unger’s second-inning groundout drove in Coby Campbell with the first run and Jake Dykstra (Lake Central) scored on a seventh-inning wild pitch. The Titans have won four straight. Crown Point graduate Josh Hoogewerf (9 K’s, 0 BB, 7 IP) and New Prairie alum Noah Brettin (2 K’s, 0 BB, 1 IP) combined on a 1-hitter as NCAA D-III Trine beat John Carroll 1-0 in the first game of a doubleheader in Lake Myrtle, Fla. Dalton Nikirk (Bedford North Lawrence) delivered the walk-off RBI single to plate Easton Rhodes (DeKalb) for the Thunder.
Friday, March 4 Indianapolis 5, Wayne State 3 Southwest Baptist 7, Purdue Northwest 4 Purdue Northwest 5, Southwest Baptist 0 Southern Indiana 11, Trevecca Nazarene 3
Saturday, March 5 Wayne State 13, Indianapolis 2 Wayne State 26, Indianapolis 11 Purdue Northwest 7, Southwest Baptist 2 Trevecca Nazarene 9, Southern Indiana 4 Trevecca Nazarene 15, Southern Indiana 3
Sunday, March 6 Wayne State 13, Indianapolis 3 Purdue Northwest 6, Southwest Baptist 5
Saturday, March 5 Earlham 19, Wilmington 9 Franklin 18, Hope 6 Hope 27, Franklin 7 Hanover 11, Neumann 3 Anderson 11, St. Norbert 4 Anderson 20, St. Norbert 11 Kalamazoo 19, Manchester 6 Kalamazoo 13, Manchester 5 DePauw 9, Hendrix 6 Hendrix 8, DePauw 6 Aurora 9, Wabash 8 (10 inn.) Wabash 16, Aurora 3
Sunday, March 6 Anderson 6, St. Norbert 2 Earlham 12, Wilmington 11 Kalamazoo 15, Manchester 1 Kalamazoo 8, Manchester 6 Trine 1, John Carroll 0 (8 inn.) John Carroll 15, Trine 0
NAIA Monday, Feb. 28 Spring Arbor 9, Goshen 2 Spring Arbor 3, Goshen 0
Tuesday, March 1 Calumet of St. Joseph 19, Lincoln Christian 1 Calumet of St. Joseph 8, Lincoln Christian 0 (suspended in 3rd to April 11) Grace 12, IU South Bend 7
Wednesday, March 2 Indiana Wesleyan 17, Cleary 8 Cleary 11, Indiana Wesleyan 2 IU Southeast 16, Lindsey Wilson 2
Friday, March 4 Brewton-Parker 20, Calumet of St. Joseph 4 Saint Francis 14, Huntington 9 Huntington 6, Saint Francis 1 Bethel 9, Mt. Vernon Nazarene 6 Mt. Vernon Nazarene 13, Bethel 0 Grace 6, Goshen 2 Goshen 1, Grace 0 Spring Arbor 2, Indiana Wesleyan 1 Indiana Wesleyan 7, Spring Arbor 6 Taylor 8, Marian 1 Taylor 5, Marian 1 IU Kokomo 5, Ohio Christian 0 Oakland City 4, West Virginia Tech 2
Saturday, March 5 Calumet of St. Joseph 6, Brewton-Parker 4 Brewton-Parker 12, Calumet of St. Joseph 11 Huntington 6, Saint Francis 5 Saint Francis 6, Huntington 1 Bethel 9, Mt. Nazarene 6 Mt. Vernon Nazarene 5, Bethel 2 Mt. Vernon Nazarene 5, Bethel 3 Grace 16, Goshen 12 Grace 13, Goshen 11 Indiana Wesleyan 26, Spring Arbor 1 Indiana Wesleyan 19, Spring Arbor 18 Marian 20, Taylor 10 (8 inn.) Taylor 12, Marian 10 IU Kokomo 10, Ohio Christian 0 IU Kokomo 1, Ohio Christian 0 Oakland 11, West Virginia Tech 10 (11 inn.) Oakland 7, West Virginia Tech 6 IU Southeast 26, Northwestern Ohio 12 Northwestern Ohio 3, IU Southeast 2 IU South Bend 20, Michigan-Dearborn 5 IU South Bend 13, Michigan-Dearborn 9
Sunday, March 6 IU Southeast 11, Northwestern Ohio 8 IU South Bend 8, Concorida (Neb.) 7 IU South Bend 2, Concorida (Neb.) 1 Southeastern 6, Indiana Tech 2 Southeastern 6, Indiana Tech 0
Junior College Monday, Feb. 28 Vincennes 7, Joliet 2
Friday, March 4 Ivy Tech Northeast 4, Anderson JV 3 Wabash Valley 16, Vincennes 0 Kellogg 16, Vincennes 7
Saturday, March 5 Wabash Valley 16, Vincennes 0 Kellogg 16, Vincennes 7 Miami-Hamilton 13, Marian’s Ancilla 8 Ivy Tech Northeast 13, Lincoln Trail 3 Lincoln Trail 8, Ivy Tech Northeast 6
Sunday, March 6 Lake County 1, Marian’s Ancilla 0 Lake County 16, Marian’s Ancilla 5 Lincoln Trail 12, Ivy Tech Northeast 5 Ivy Tech Northeast 6, Lincoln Trail 1
Promoting retention of concepts taught, Indianapolis Lutheran High School head baseball coach Adam Gouker is testing his players as they prepare for the 2022 season. “People talk about the five tools of baseball (speed, power, hitting for average, fielding and arm strength),” says Gouker, who was hired prior to the 2020 season canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic and led the Saints on the field for the first time in 2021. “Baseball I.Q. or Baseball Awareness is the most under-taught part of baseball. “We put players through mental training.” Ramping it up in January, players will witness presentations on various parts of the game and then take an exam which produces a metric — a Baseball Academics Rating (BAR). “We are by no stretch of the imagination the most athletic team, but we understand what to do with the ball (on defense),” says Gouker. “It makes us extremely competitive. “It’s my favorite thing to teach. The guys eat it up and it builds passion.” As co-founder and vice president of BAMFAM (Baseball Academics Midwest/Fastpitch Academics Midwest) and owner/operator of Extra Innings Indy South, Gouker has been testing players’ knowledge for years. “I’m involved in a lot of instruction,” says Gouker. “Baseball is life.” Gower also insists that his assistant Lutheran coaches get certified through Dugout Coalition. “It’s a a really useful tool to make sure we’re all teaching accurately the same things,” says Gouker. “There are lot of coaches out there in the world that have been involved in baseball in the past and not enough recognition if those coaches are staying up with the latest and greatest in the sport.” In getting Dugout Coalition-certified, coaches take in about 44 hours of online training and then must pass an exam. Lutheran assistants for 2022 are Zach Akers, Tyler Danner, Josh Meaney, Russell Parker and Jonas Akers. Danner, Meaney and Parker are also BAMFAM coaches. Jonas Akers, son of Zach, is a former Lutheran player now attending Wabash College. Another emphasis for Gouker’s Saints is base running. Players able to attend fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period practices (many others were involved in fall sports, including the state championship-winning Lutheran football team) worked on base running (reading pitchers, getting leads) and there will be more of the same when the next LCP window opens Dec. 6 along with arm strengthening, velocity care, defensive fundamentals, batting practice, weight training and — of course — mental training. Lutheran’s high-octane running program produced 143 stolen bases in 2021 with four players in double digits for a squad that played 27 games. Senior Sean Moore, a commit to Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio (where former University of Indianapolis assistantLandon Hutchinson is head coach) is coming off a 22-steal season as is senior Cade Tabit. Senior Cole Perkins swiped 19 in ’21. “We had a pretty solid offensive year,” says Gouker. “We want to make sure their defensive side is as high as we can have it.” The Saints play home games on-campus. The facility has recently had its mound and home plate areas re-built and lean bars added in the dugout. “We want players up and engaged in the game,” says Gouker. There’s also been talk of upgrading the backstop with padding and new netting. Recent Lutheran graduates that moved on to college baseball include Matt Alter (Piedmont University in Demorest, Ga., and now at Hanover College) and Noah Wood (Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Ill., and now at Franklin College). Lutheran graduate Jared Broughton was once a Piedmont assistant and is now a volunteer assistant at Clemson University. A feeder system for the high school are the Junior Saints junior high team (formerly coached by Greg Hughes), which had about a dozen seventh and eighth graders taking on area teams in 2021. Lutheran (enrollment around 220) is a member of the Indiana Crossroads Conference (with Beech Grove, Cascade, Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter, Monrovia, Scecina Memorial, Speedway and Triton Central). Conference games are played in home-and-home series on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “I like that format,” says Gouker. “This way you’re not facing the same pitcher each time and you can make adjustments from the first game to the second.” In 2021, the Saints were part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Edinburgh, Greenwood Christian Academy, Morristown, Southwestern (Shelbyville) and Waldron. Lutheran has won 13 sectional titles — the last in 2019. Lutheran’s social media includes Facebook and Instagram. Gouker is a 2007 graduate of Alexandra-Monroe Junior/Senior High School who played at Anderson (Ind.) University. He has been married to high school sweethart Hannah since 2014. The couple has a son — Odin (10 months).
Dick Alter has coached baseball in central Indiana for nearly four decades.
He has been around some talented players and coaches and helped mold young minds in dugouts and classrooms.
Since 2005, the former North Central player and assistant coach and former Manual head coach has made an impact at Indianapolis Lutheran High School, an IHSAA Class 1A member on the city’s southeast side.
The Saints won the eighth sectional title during Alter’s tenure and extended their streak of sectional championships to six in 2017. Lutheran went on to take the first regional crown in program history.
“Chemistry,” says Alter, who is also chairman of the school’s social studies department. “It was certainly not the best team we’ve ever had here. But those boys put it together better than the other teams did when it counted. We had unified players that played together and wanted to win.”
There are not that many 1A schools in the Indianapolis area. The smallest school in the Indiana Crossroads Conference (which also includes Beech Grove, Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter, Indianapolis Scecina, Indianapolis Park Tudor, Monrovia, Speedway and Triton Central), Lutheran benefits from its strong regular-season schedule come postseason time.
“We play a very competitive schedule,” says Alter. “We go out of our way to play good schools. We don’t have the depth these 4A schools have, but on any given day we can play with them.”
Sophomores Matthew Alter (Dick and Karen Alter’s only child) and Noah Wood and freshman Bradbury Aiden — all right-handers — did the bulk of the mound work for last season’s Saints. It was the first campaign of the IHSAA’s new pitch count rule (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days).
The coach is not a fan of the new rule.
“It severely limits a 1A program,” says Alter. “We really have to plan and be judicious with our pitchers. I like the old rule — 10 innings every three days. That made a lot of sense to me. It worked for me. If you are an experienced coach, you’re not going to hurt your kids’ arms by overthrowing them.”
Alter has heard the response of those like him who oppose the new rule.
“You can say ‘go develop more pitchers.’ But that’s easier said than done,” says Alter, who notes that many schools have players who grew learning to be pitchers. “We’re developing kids who can throw and hopefully they throw strikes. I understand the concept, but in practicality you’re not going to get a lot of good pitchers out of it.”
The Saints play games on their Arlington Avenue campus. Land-locked in a residential area, the field has relatively short dimensions.
“There’s one house we regularly hit in left field,” says Alter. “Any home run to the right side is going into somebody’s yard.”
Since Alter’s arrival, the field located in a residential area has received upgrades like a new backstop and dugouts and netting instead of a fence. Windscreens have been added and the home plate area and mound have been re-done.
Alter graduated from North Central in 1973. His coach was Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Tom Bradley, who was the original host of the IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series. Alter played one year on baseball scholarship to Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., Alter transferred to Indiana University, earned a degree and began his professional life in marketing research.
In 1979, he began running the summer baseball program at North Central and later served as an assistant to Bradley.
He decided to change his profession to teacher and wound up coaching baseball and basketball at Manual. For a short time, he was head coach for both sports.
Alter led the Redskins on the diamond 1994-2004 then went to Lutheran when Matthew was 5.
The high school typically gets most of its students from four Lutheran K-8 schools on the southeast side of Indy. Almost all of the Saints have a travel baseball background.
As Lutheran plans for 2018, Tom Riensche (former Warren Central head coach) and Ryan Baglow are back as varsity assistants. Zach Akers has been a junior varsity coach.
The Saints normally have a JV team, but low numbers in some years and one available diamond mean they only field a varsity squad.
A veteran of nearly 40 years as a high school baseball coach, Dick Alter has been head coach at Indianapolis Lutheran since 2005. The Saints won their sixth straight sectional and advanced all the way to the semistate in 2017. (Indianapolis Lutheran Photo)