LAPORTE | It took Ronnie Plesac an inning to find his bearings in Wednesday's Class 4A LaPorte Sectional opener.
After that, it was smooth sailing.
Plesac allowed just one hit over six shutout innings as Crown Point ousted the host Slicers, 6-0.
In the second game, Brandon Murray struck out 11 and Hobart took advantage of five walks and four errors to oust Chesterton 8-2.
"The first inning, my ball had a lot of tail on it," Plesac said. "I was trying to locate it. That was the big issue. I just tried to stay calm the whole time. It was like the world was lifted off my shoulders."
Two of the first three LaPorte batters walked, but they were stranded and the Slicers (10-20) never got a runner past second base.
"He hasn't pitched in a few days. He was trying to find his rhythm," C.P. coach Steve Strayer said. "Getting out of that inning was a big thing. He did a little better as he went."
Plesac didn't need much help and he put the Bulldogs (24-5) in front with an RBI single in the first. Crown Point added three runs in the second without benefit of a hit. Five Bulldogs drew walks and another was hit by a pitch.
"Their pitchers have good stuff. Sometimes, they have trouble locating," Strayer said. "We talked before the game. If they weren't locating, we had to take advantage. We had to be patient."
LaPorte changed pitchers twice in the second.
"Ball four — that sums up the story," Slicers coach Scott Upp said. "(Plesac) struggled early. We had an opportunity to keep it close and we weren't aggressive enough to do it. We didn't challenge him at all. That was disheartening. We just played into his hands."
Plesac struck out a modest four, relying more on his change-up then a fastball that resides in the 86 to 88 mph range.
"It makes the pitcher comfortable knowing he's got a solid defense to back him up," Strayer said. "He knows if he gets down in the count, he can make a pitch, make them put it in play and many times, they're going to get him out."
In the second game, Hobart broke out of a 1-1 tie with four runs in the fourth on just two hits. Two runs scores on bases-loaded walks.
"We just grinded out some at-bats," Hobart coach Robert Glover Jr. said. "We got to two strikes and stayed in there. Sometimes, the biggest battle with kids is getting them to stay out of the big inning. Brandon beared down a couple times with runners in scoring position and made the pitches to get out of the inning. He's fun to watch when he's on his game."
Chesterton coach Jack Campbell tipped his cap to Murray and bemoaned the seven unearned runs.
"He's pretty good, isn't he?" Campbell said. "He's big time. Our mantra has been solid defense and good pitching. The times we needed to throw strikes, we threw balls. Losing this games doesn't diminish what they did all season. They exceeded all expectations."