WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | As well as Justin Landgrebe and Joe Dougherty were pitching in Monday's Porter County Conference championship, it only stood to reason that a mistake would decide the outcome.
It happened in the bottom of the eighth inning when Morgan Township's Dougherty made an errant pickoff throw to first base, allowing Washington Township's Corey Holderread to trot home from third with the winning run in a 2-1 Senators victory.
"Sometimes, you can't explain it," Washington coach Randy Roberts said. "You just win."
Holderread led off the eighth with a single and continued on to second when the ball was bobbled in center field. After he was bunted to third, Michael Hegedus was hit by a pitch. Before Dougherty threw a pitch to Cody Goodan, he faked a toss to third, turned back toward first, where Hegedus had already taken off, and fired well wide off Brandon Murphy.
"It was basically a leave early-type situation," Morgan coach Jason Dorshorst said. "We faked to third to see if they were going to squeeze again. We got the play right. (Hegedus) was hung out to dry. We just didn't make the throw. That's all there is to it."
The play made a winner of Justin Landgrebe (8-2), who limited Morgan (20-5) to four hits. He struck out 11, five of them coming in the last two innings.
"Whatever it took to get a run," Landgrebe said. "I battled, Joe battled with me, all the way to the end. It's completely an adrenaline rush. I don't feel it right now, but I'm sure I will (Tuesday)."
Until the final sequence, the only scoring had come in the third inning, ironically both by pitchers. Dougherty doubled and scored the Cherokees' run and Landgrebe came in on a passed ball with two out after reaching on a wind-blown pop-up that dropped behind second.
"It was a pitcher's strike zone and with the way the wind was blowing (in), it was a tough day all-around (to hit)," Roberts said. "Justin threw hard. He kept his head. It was just two good, class teams out here playing ball. We were starting to wonder who was going to have to come in next."
Dougherty, who allowed six hits and matched Landgrebe in whiffs with 11, had to escape more trouble than his lefty opponent. Washington (20-9) put runners in scoring position four times in the first seven innings. It twice stranded runners on third with one out and also had the game-winner 90 feet away in the seventh with two down.
"Joe's a strong kid. He'll bounce back," Dorshorst said. "He knows how good he threw."
The tourney title is Washington's third, and first since 2009. Morgan's drought extended to 38 years.