High school baseball teams don’t get to the regional level without strong pitching.
Franklin and Jeffersonville are no exception. Each team’s projected starter has an ERA under 2.
“They’re going to throw a lot of strikes,” Franklin coach Paul Strack said.
For the Grizzly Cubs, Game 1 starter McKinney (8-2, 1.93 ERA) has 122 strikeouts against 34 walks in 69 innings. Game 2 probable Evan Giles (4-2, 1.85 ERA) has less power but more control, striking out 78 and walking only 18 in 53 innings.
If you go
What: IHSAA Class 4A baseball regional
Where: Evansville Bosse (Evansville Reitz is tournament host)
When: Noon semifinal, Franklin (17-9) vs. Jeffersonville (21-5); 2 p.m., Bloomington North (25-4) vs. Evansville North (19-9); 8 p.m. final
Admission: $6 per session, $9 both sessions
The Red Devils’ staff is equal to the task. Probable Game 1 starter Mark Meyer is 5-2 with a 1.43 ERA. Senior ace Trent Astle is 6-1 with a 1.21 ERA. Included in his wins are two against Class 4A No. 1 Floyd Central and another over Class 3A No. 1 Jasper.
At the plate, the Grizzly Cubs don’t produce big power stats on offense. They have only nine home runs and no triples in 26 games. By comparison, Jeffersonville has a combined total of 20.
It is in executing the fundamentals of small ball where Franklin excels. No player exemplifies that better than leadoff hitter Evan Giles.
The sophomore bats a team-leading .354, but he also has drawn 24 walks, been hit by pitches seven times and reached on errors five times in just 96 official plate appearances. In all, he has reached the bases more than half the time.
From Franklin to Franklin
Second-year head coach Strack might be relatively new at Franklin Community High School, but he is no stranger to area baseball fans.
Strack, 24, a social studies teacher at the high school, played at Franklin College under coach Lance Marshall.
“Paul is an outstanding coach and person,” Marshall said. “He has a fantastic work ethic. We knew he would do a great job when given the opportunity.”
The mentor took in Franklin’s sectional semifinal win against Whiteland and liked what he saw.
“He’s got those guys playing well,” Marshall said, noting approvingly how Strack took a calculated gamble from his third-base coaching box to wave home a key run. “They’re fun to watch. It’s really impressive.”
The former Grizzlies outfielder graduated from Perry Meridian High School.
Cap, gown and gone
Today’s regional round marks the end of a hectic 24 hours for senior members of Franklin’s baseball team.
On Friday night, they participated in graduation ceremonies at the school. Then they immediately headed for Evansville to spend the night with teammates and prepare for today’s game against Jeffersonville.
Earlier in the week, Strack said, “We will have the full team there probably by late Friday night/early (today).
“We’ll get them in bed as soon as we can and get as much rest as we can. We will be up early (today) with breakfast and then prepare to go play Jeffersonville.”
The game starts at 11 a.m. local time.
Franklin’s seniors are Max Hensley, Jeremiah Johnson, Tony Mathews, Jeremy McKinney, Anthony Mercer and Dan Weddle.