Indian Creek hitters had struggled so much in recent games, Braves coach Eddy Willis said he implored his players not to look at their statistics to keep their minds off the collective slump.
After Thursday’s sectional opener, it might be safe to look at the stat sheet again.
Braves hitters jumped on Greencastle early in the Class 3A first-round matchup, collecting 14 runs and 14 hits in the first four innings en route to a 14-1, five-inning victory against the Tiger Cubs.
The win allows Indian Creek (12-7-1) to advance to Monday’s sectional semifinal against host Danville. The Warriors (15-10) defeated Indianapolis Washington in Thursday’s second semifinal game.
The Braves had suffered two shutout losses in their last four regular-season games, including a 4-0 setback May 16 against Sullivan in the Western Indiana Conference championship game. That loss, along with a nine-day layoff between games, made the players eager to reverse their recent offensive struggles.
“I hadn’t looked at my stats since the first third of the season,” said Indian Creek senior Max Walls, whose three-run double in the third inning was the big blow of a four-run third inning that gave the Braves a 9-1 lead. “We had been getting most of our runs later in the game, and we hadn’t had a game in over a week, so we wanted to start off fresh.”
Walls (2 for 3) was one of five Braves that collected two or more hits Thursday. Jeremy Lee went 3 for 3 hitting ninth in the order. Leadoff batter Jared DeHart went 2 for 4 with two RBIs, while Dustin Sprong and Eric Braughton each went 2 for 4 as well.
“We’ve been hitting the ball terribly, and (Thursday night) had to be a night where we came out swinging,” Willis said. “We couldn’t wait (to play). I was trying to find a game (after the May 16 loss), anyone who would play us. We started with a good attitude.”
Greencastle (6-16), a Western Indiana Conference rival that Indian Creek didn’t play because the teams are in different divisions, made things easier for the Braves by committing five errors. The lopsided score enabled Willis to use three different pitchers and minimize arm wear and tear.
Walls pitched the first two innings, allowing the Tiger Cubs’ lone run and striking out two. Dustin Sprong pitched the third inning and struck out the side, and Braughton pitched the final two innings, striking out five of the six batters he faced.