Cavs’ run ends with loss to Eastside

ELKHART — Culver Community earned its first sectional title in 26 years by battling from behind. On Saturday, the Cavaliers simply dug themselves too big a hole to climb out of.
Eastside plated six runs batting through the order during a big third inning, and although Culver scored three runs in the fifth and sixth, it was too little, too late as the Cavs suffered a season-ending 7-3 loss at the Class 2A Jimtown Baseball Regional in Elkhart.
Eastside went on to fall in 10-2 in the championship to Hanover Central at the tourney, while Culver closed out a banner year at 13-14.
“They had a lot of two-strike hits,” said Culver head baseball coach Mike Elliott of the big third inning. “You tell your kids to put the ball in play and Eastside did a good job of that. They had a couple of two-strike hits, a couple of bleeders in there. But you put the ball in play and make the other team make plays.
The Blazers shelled Culver starter Bryce Lindvall with seven hits during the big third in his first outing on the mound since throwing a one-hitter in a 6-1 win over the host Wolves at the Boone Grove Sectional semifinal last Monday.
Eastside pounded out four straight singles in their second time seeing Lindvall. A costly error on a grounder to third scored the Blazers their first run after Luke Kaiser was picked off leading off from first following the team’s first hit of the inning. Josh Yoder hit a two-run single through the infield gap into left, and designated hitter Matt Byrd knocked another seeing eye single through the gap to give Eastside a 4-0 lead before Lindvall struck Nate Mack for the second out of the inning.
But Eastside scratched out a pair of unearned runs on a Travis Shuman double — the game’s only extra base hit — before Collin Stevens took over on the mound for the final out of the inning.
Culver had a chance to get on top early with runners on second and third and one out in the top of the third, but Brian Nelson was caught in no-man’s land and picked off heading back to third on a foul out down the third baseline for the final out of the inning. It was the first of two key baserunning errors by Nelson as he hesitated at first on a dropped infield fly from Stevens with two outs in the sixth.
“That’s what we tell them,” said Elliott. “At this level of the tournament, the team that makes the least amount of errors is the team that’s going to win.”
Culver scored its first run in the fourth on an RBI single to right from Zoe Bauer that scored Nick Pritz after the latter drew a two-out walk. The visitors on the scoreboard struck again with two more runs in the sixth off Nelson’s two-run knock to right center.
Eastisde scored its final run on an RBI single by Yoder in the bottom of the sixth.
Although they may have fallen short of a regional, the Cavs can hold their heads high after a banner season in which they ended a 26-year sectional championship drought with a 6-2 comeback win over Hebron in the Class 2A Sectional 34 championship Tuesday.
The team says good bye to seniors Lindvall, Bauer, Nelson, AJ Neace, Michael Salary and Sam Hendrickson.
“We’re just really proud of the seniors, especially the last couple of weeks,” Elliott said. “They had that attitude, they worked to win, and they battled. They battled today… You take one inning away and we played a pretty good ball game, but you’ve to to play seven.”
At Class 2A Jimtown
Baseball Regional
Culver: 000 012 0 — 3 7 2
Eastside: 006 001 X — 7 11 1
Bryce Yoder (W) and Evon Reas; Bryce Lindvall (L), Collin Stevens (3) and A.J. Neace.
2B: Travis Shuman (E)
Records: Eastside 15-15, Culver 13-14 (final).