CROWN POINT | It may be referred to as "the pitcher's best friend," but a clutch, inning-ending double play could be the tonic that ignites a team's offense.
Such was the case for Crown Point Red in its championship game against Schererville in the Babe Ruth 13-year-old Northern State Tournament on Saturday at the C.P. Babe Ruth field.
In what was a tight game, Schererville threatened to break a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth when it loaded the bases with one out.
"At that point, I was hoping to get out with just one run scored against us," said C.P. Red manager Scott Angel.
Then Aiden Swinford, who came to relieve a quality start from Ryan Bolba, got a Schererville batter to hit a grounder to second baseman Jacob Loosemore, who pivoted to throw to shortstop Jake De Fries, who -- after a little hesitation to avoid hitting the runner forced at second -- threw to first baseman Andrew Mild, who scooped the ball out of the dirt to complete the 4-6-3 DP.
Then in the ensuing top of the fifth, Crown Point Red sent 13 hitters to the plate, scoring eight of them en route to an 8-1 championship win. Ben Friedrich had two hits during the decisive surge, including a lead-off double followed by an RBI single.
Crown Point Red went undefeated in the tournament, something Angel believes wasn't expected from them.
"We lost to this team twice in the District tournament," Angel said of Schererville. "They're an excellent team. We play them 10 times, we may win five.
"But this was just a great team effort. We didn't make an error all game, and our hitting came through."
Crown Point Red advances to the Ohio Valley Regional in Robinson, Ill. Pool play starts Thursday with C.P. Red taking on the Southern Illinois champion at 3 p.m. On Friday, C.P Red will face the Southern Indiana champion at 9:30 a.m. and the West Virginia champion at 3 p.m.
Single-elimination bracket runs Saturday and Sunday.
At the 14-year-old Northern State Tournament at LaPorte Babe Ruth, it was business as usual for the Schererville Shock -- or rather the next step to take care of unfinished business.
"That's our battle cry this season: Unfinished business," Shock coach Dave Lopez said after his team rolled over Logansport 10-0 Saturday in a slaughter-shortened championship final.
Winning Northern State championships is nothing new to the Shock, who for the most part have been together since it was an 8-year-old team and have five titles in the last six years. But last season as 13-year-olds, the Shock advanced to their first Babe Ruth World Series, and the team is itching to get back.
"We were one out away from getting to the Final Four," Lopez said of the Shock's 1-3 pool-play showing that kept them from the WS single-elimination bracket.
Leading the offensive charge against Logansport were Jack Bosold, who had three hits, and Parker Bryant, who had two hits and a pair of RBIs.
Shock manager Dan Bosold, Jack's father, has been impressed with his his team's offense during the District and Northern State rounds, but believes the team's deep pitching is what makes it most formidable.
"We have four No. 1's," Bosold said. "We have Bo Hofstra, who we lost for a while last year due to a shoulder injury, as well as Joe Graziano, Ben Nisle and Patrick Reardon.
"In Jasper (site of the 14-year-old Ohio Valley Regional) teams will face all four of those guys," Bosold said. "They'll each pitch a couple of innings, that way we won't burn them out."
On Thursday, the Shock will face the Wisconsin champion at 3 p.m. before taking on the Northern Illinois champion at 10:30 a.m. and the West Virginia champion at 3 p.m. to complete the pool-play round the following Friday before single-elimination on Saturday and Sunday.