VALPARAISO — Marquette and coach Casey Martin were all too familiar with the prowess of Washington Township's baseball program.
While his team lost its sectional opener, 3-0, to the host and Class A No. 4 Senators on Friday, Martin took solace in the fact his Blazers hung tough and stayed close with Washington Township for the first time in a while.
“For as little as we've played outside this year, and as competitive a team as they are, I'm real happy with that game,” Martin said. “We didn't have any errors. We had six hits. If a couple balls fall in different spots, we win this game against a team who's 10-runned us over the last three years I've been here on a couple occasions, at least. I'm extremely proud of our guys, especially our seniors.”
Starting pitcher John Allen and stalwart defense helped keep the Blazers (4-13-1) within striking distance.
The Senators (18-6) built a 1-0 cushion in the second inning and pushed it to 3-0 in the fourth, but Allen and Marquette were able to limit the damage any further.
Allen left runners stranded on second and third in the fourth with catcher Brandon Spangler picked off Jared Armstrong at third base for the first out. In the sixth, Allen got a strikeout and a flyout to center to leave the bases loaded to keep it a three-run game, but the Blazers' offense couldn't get a timely hit or two.
Washington Township's William Roberts picked up the victory, throwing the first five innings. The right-hander surrendered no runs, scattering three hits with eight strikeouts and just one walk.
“Marquette played very well,” Senators coach Randy Roberts said. “They've got a great coach over there. They're fortunate to have him. We pitched pretty well. William mixed it up well. He hit his spots. He had been sick all week, that's why we took him out.”
Allen was saddled with the loss, giving up three earned runs on 11 hits in seven innings. He finished with a pair of strikeouts and one walk.
“He's battled all year,” Martin said. “We've asked a lot of him. He's thrown a lot of innings for a guy who didn't throw as much last year. He's stepped up as a sophomore. To come up here and pitch against these guys in a sectional game as a sophomore, and to do as well as he did, it's just a credit to him.”
In the second, the Senators took an early 1-0 lead with a two-out rally. Myles DeBold singled, stole second, and was driven in by Chaz Brown’s RBI single to left. Brown ripped an RBI double to left, while Logan Curran added an RBI base hit to left in the fourth. Brown paced the Senators' offense, finishing 3-for-3 with two doubles and a pair of RBI, while DeBold went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
In the sixth, Karsen Grott doubled to left, and later, tried to score on Spangler's single to left, but a sliding Grott was thrown out at home for the third out.
“That's baseball and that's what I told them after the game,” Martin said. “A lot of those things we can't control. We had a couple balls that go right to them.”
Cormac Markham guided Marquette's offense, going 2-of-3 with a pair of singles.
The Senators next meet the Covenant Christian/Hammond Academy winner in a Washington Township Sectional semifinal today at 1 p.m.
For the Blazers, they'll lose five seniors to graduation, Spangler, Grott, Robert Barron, Jarrett Piornack and Zach Donaldson.
“Since Day 1, I made it clear the changes I wanted to see in this program and they were on board," Martin said. "This is a tough group to see go, just because I feel like I'm one of them. The legacy they leave behind ... This game is a perfect example. Those guys went from freshmen used to getting 10-runned by teams like this and they finished as seniors who compete for seven innings and lose 3-0. Their legacy is what the program's all about now.”
Class A Washington Township Sectional
Washington Township 3, Marquette 0
Cormac Markham finished 2-for-3 for the Blazers.