MERRILLVILLE | Before Monday’s varsity baseball start, Andrean pitcher Jimmy Skiff had taken the ball against Munster plenty of times at lower levels.
As a Dyer Little League stalwart, Skiff ran into Munster many times at the district tournament level starting with his age 10 season, but Monday was the 6-foot junior’s first chance to start against the Mustangs on varsity.
He was nervous, and he compacted it by putting four runners on base in the first two innings and then allowing two hits, two hit batsmen and two runs in the third. However, he recovered and played an offensive role in the comeback as Times No. 1 Andrean beat No. 9 Munster 8-2 Monday at Andrean in Northwest Crossroads Conference action.
“I started off a little shaky,” Skiff said. “Once I settled down I was good. This was a really big win against a great rival.”
Andrean (20-1, 9-0) bounced back from Saturday’s loss to Marian Catholic with a little luck.
After the Mustangs (13-6, 6-3) took a 2-0 lead on Mike Mueller’s two-run single in the top of the third, a Munster error on a ball to second base and two later errors in the same inning broke the game open for the 59ers.
“We were really fortunate at the end of three innings to be winning instead of down by five runs,” Andrean coach Dave Pishkur said. “Realistically we could have been down 4- or 5-0. We caught some breaks.”
The critical fielding error was on a ball batted by Matt DeSomer with two on and two out, and it scored Jamie Johnson, who had singled. Nick Podkul then scored on an errant throw from the catcher back to the mound. DeSomer scored on Jeremy Wright’s single to center, and an overthrow by Munster’s center fielder allowed Zac Ryan to score.
“We just knew we had to put the ball in play and take advantage of opportunities,” Skiff said. “Once we got the lead it helped settle me down.”
Skiff (5-0) allowed one base runner over the final four frames, and he finished with two walks and four strikeouts in a five-hit complete game. His breaking pitches were flat early, so he switched to more of a fastball and changeup arsenal.
His good friends were a pickoff play in the first and a double play in the second, harbingers of a frustrating day for a talented Munster squad.
“Not being able to eke out a run those first two innings, I knew that would possibly hurt us down the road,” Munster coach Bob Shinkan said, “and we just cannot give them opportunities to extend the inning, especially a very good team like Andrean.”
Andrean scored four more runs in the sixth inning. Jeremy Briggs had an RBI single, DeSomer drove in a run on a bases loaded hit-by-pitch, and Ryan walked with the bases loaded before a final infield error on the Mustangs accounted for the final run.
“Sometimes you have to win that way,” Pishkur said. “They gave us a lot of runs.”