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Anybody who has banged their funny bone knows it's anything but funny.

The sensation, which is caused by bumping the ulnar nerve running down the inside part of the elbow, is a feeling Connor Krantz knows all too well.

"Every time I threw it was like hitting your funny bone," Krantz said.

For a baseball player, that's particularly problematic.

The Chesterton junior developed the issue when the ulnar nerve in his left arm displaced over his elbow.

"I played the whole (sophomore season on junior varsity) with it," Krantz said. "They thought it was tendinitis. They told me I might need to chill on my arm so I DH'd all summer. It was still bothering me so I went back to the doctor and they still said it was tendinitis."

This time, however, Krantz was referred to a specialist in Indianapolis who discovered the cause of the discomfort. Surgery was performed to put the nerve back into place.

The good news?

Krantz didn't need Tommy John surgery on his elbow, as was speculated.

The bad news?

He was out the next two months, the elbow placed in a metal brace for stability, while the rest of the Trojans prepared for the season.

"He started behind," Trojans coach Jack Campbell said. "With our schedule, we never see the JV play and we don't see them in the summer. He was an unknown quantity."

By the time Krantz was allowed to throw again, it was early April, and though he'd actually beaten the estimated recovery time by about six weeks, he was in catch-up mode.

"It was really stressful. I didn't know what kind of effect it was going to have on the season," he said. "I was very relieved I was able to play. It's just that everyone in April is getting in their rhythm and I'm spending a lot more time sitting on the bench. The coaches knew I was a good player. They were hinting at getting me some time to see what I had. I just didn't have a lot of time to show them."

In the meantime, the leadoff spot, where Krantz has batted most of his life, was an issue for the Trojans. Campbell tried a few players with little success, eventually turning to Krantz.

"He got an opportunity to get in and ever since, he's done a great job as a leadoff hitter and defensively," Campbell said. "He's an outstanding bunter. He's a good hit-and-run guy. He's a good base runner. He can steal bases. He turned into that (leadoff) guy."

It was no coincidence that an uptick in Chesterton's production came around the time of Krantz's insertion atop the lineup.

"They gave me a chance and I made good on it," he said. "I've always hit either nine or one. I've been in the spot my whole life. I was always the fastest guy, so they threw me in there for a game, I was probably 9, and it stuck."

Also left-handed, Krantz began to refine his bunting skills as part of his hitting practice and it's become a weapon for him.

"Whenever I go 0 for 3, I'm definitely looking to lay one down," he said. "My grandpa (former Wirt coach Jerry Troxel) had a hitting cage in his back yard. It was handy to have a twin brother. Jeremy and I would always go hit by ourselves. He's definitely the better hitter."

Jeremy Krantz is the Trojans' backup second baseman.

Heading into Saturday's semistate, Connor Krantz is hitting .361 with a .418 on-base percentage. He is tied for third on the team in runs (18) and is second in steals (nine).

"I try to get at least six pitches the first at-bat, get a good, quality at-bat," he said. "I try to be patient, look for something good."

While Connor Krantz's bat has been a difference-maker for Chesterton this season, it might be his arm that it needs the most next spring. The Trojans will lose most of their pitching staff to graduation. The prototypical crafty southpaw, Connor Krantz was one of the top pitchers in his class before the injury.

"My arm felt way better in like three weeks (after the brace came off). I was almost throwing 100 percent," he said. "If I can get up to 85 (miles per hour), I'll be happy. We'll see in the summer."


Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.