MUNSTER | Munster starter Jonathan Azar has pitched seven innings this season, but his next seven were the ones he was preparing for and looked forward to the most.
It showed on Thursday evening after his solid performance en route to a 7-3 win over Times No. 3 Crown Point in nonconference action.
"Shink (Munster coach Bob Shinkan) told me a few days before that I was gonna pitch against them and I've been thinking about it for a while," said Azar.
Azar went the distance, allowing just four hits and two earned runs, while striking out six with no walks, most importantly.
"Jonathan did a real nice job. This is a good indicator of where he's at," Shinkan said. "He kept them off balance and mixed his pitches well."
However, Crown Point (2-1) scored in the first after leadoff man Alex Nickla got home all the way from second after a groundout.
But Munster (4-2) responded with its biggest inning of the ballgame, hanging four on the Bulldogs in the bottom of the second.
After singles from Mike Mueller and Scott Shaner, Nick Marlow reached via fielder's choice and Alex Coccia was hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases.
No. 9 hitter Alec Skalka then cleared the bases with a double down the right field line and then scored himself after C.P. committed two errors in the inning.
The visiting Bulldogs added runs in the third and fourth innings, but Munster added three of their own in that stretch, as it chased Crown Point ace Zach Plesac after three and two-thirds innings.
"He had trouble getting his breaking stuff over and I was very pleased with our patience at the plate," said Shinkan. "We had a couple two-out, two-strike hits with Skalka's double and Shaner's single."
Plesac gave up five hits and four earned runs while walking three and striking out five.
"This was a very humbling experience for us. We lost a little bit of our edge today," CP coach Steve Strayer said. "They got us back on our heels and it showed. Zach couldn't locate like he normally does and if we eliminate some walks and errors, it might be 4-3, not 7-3."