WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | Not having to worry about pitching, Washington Township junior Justin Landgrebe hit the batting cage before Friday's sectional semifinal showdown against Kouts.
"I didn't have to go through my arm routine because I knew I was the designated hitter, so I just went into the cage and worked on some stuff," Landgrebe said. "I took about 100 cuts."
It paid off big-time, as Landgrebe went 4-for-5 to lead a 16-hit assault in a 13-3, six-inning victory against the Mustangs.
Kouts ace Max Everaert, who last year as a freshman stifled the Senators during the sectional, lasted just 1 2/3 innings. The Senators pounded six hits while building a 4-0 lead, with a Landgrebe RBI single chasing Everaert off the mound in the second inning.
"I was surprised they took him out, but I knew we could do it if we had a couple of hard hits," Landgrebe said.
State-ranked No. 7 Washington (22-9) faces Morgan Twp. (21-5) in today's championship at noon. The teams just met Monday in the Porter County Conference Tournament title game, and the Senators escaped with a 2-1 victory in eight innings.
Landgrebe outdueled Morgan ace Joe Dougherty in that one, and they'll do it again today.
"I'm ready for (today). I can't wait," Landgrebe said. "I know their lineup, but they know me too."
Landgrebe doubled and eventually scored the first run of the game against Kouts (12-12). He also had a solo home run off Kouts reliever Andrew Birky in the fifth inning, when the Senators were teeing off on the first pitch.
Senior Corey Holderread added three RBIs for Washington, while Tyler Byerly, Jake Goodan, Cody Goodan and Jordan Zawada added two hits apiece.
"At the end of the day, you hit the ball and sometimes they catch it and sometimes they don't," Washington coach Randy Roberts said. "In the sectional game last year ,we hit it right at them. This time we didn't."
Washington junior right-hander Tyler Frye (6-1) went the distance for the win. He only struck out three, but he didn't walk anyone and only had trouble in one inning.
"Tyler does a good job for us," Roberts said. "He does a good job of keeping guys off balance and really mixes it up."
The Mustangs got within 5-3 in the fourth inning. Sophomore Jake Bekelya started the rally with a double off the left-center wall. He scored on a single by Jake Moore, and Birky followed with a two-run single.
But after that, the Senators took control with five runs in the bottom of the inning.
"They were hitting it all over the place," Kouts coach Matt Weston said. "We were right there and had the momentum, and I was thinking all we had to do was hold them but they put five on the board.
"It's tough. We didn't play our best obviously and it's even more disappointing when it's your last game."