Twice was just as nice — and maybe even better than the last.
Trinity Lutheran’s baseball team repeated as Class A Sectional 61 champions for the first time in school history on Monday, defeating Jackson County foe Crothersville 14-2 in five innings.
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With the title, the Cougars’ program now holds five championships to its credit.
“It’s the first time we’ve repeated, and it’s because we had a great group of seniors returning,” Cougars coach Matt VonDielingen said. “Right now we have seven seniors playing. Next year could be interesting, but this year we’re going to enjoy them while we have them.”
The Cougars (14-8) took a 4-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back against Crothersville (3-18).
Singles by Crothersville’s Trevor Peters and Jessie Fink, along with a walk, loaded the bases in the first inning. However, with two outs, Trinity pitcher Jake VonDielingen got out of the jam with a strikeout.
VonDielingen was walked as the lead-off before he stole second and third bases in the bottom of the inning. After a strikeout by Peters, Jake Moore hit an RBI single to put the Cougars up 1-0.
A sacrifice RBI from Sam Crick then scored Moore, and a passed allowed Kendall White to steal home to put the Cougars up 3-0.
Ross Kruse stole home after an errant throw at third base, as the Cougars led 4-0 at the end of one.
Crothersville put runners on first and second bases off a pair of Trinity errors, but were unable to capitalize in the top of the second inning.
With runners on second and third and one out, Moore hit a two-run single past the Tigers’ pitcher to boost the Cougars’ lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the second.
In the top of the third inning, VonDielingen took the Tigers down in order.
With two outs, VonDielingen hit an RBI single to score Marksberry and push the Trinity lead to 7-0. After taking second and third bases, VonDielingen stole home.
VonDielingen tossed three strikeouts to take the Tigers down in order in the fourth inning.
Logan Brewer replaced Peters on the mound for CHS after three innings of work in the bottom of the fourth.
The Cougars then dealt their most damage of the night, tallying six runs in what would be their final at-bats.
Moore led the Cougars off in the fourth with a triple before stealing home on a passed ball.
White scored off a fielder’s choice on a grounder by Kruse, giving the Cougars a 10-0 advantage. Crick scored on an error and Kruse made it home on a passed ball, and the Cougars led 12-0.
A two-run single to center field by VonDielingen gave the Cougars the 14-0 edge.
Following a single from Brewer, Peters blasted an RBI single to put the Tigers on the board in the fifth inning.
Peters stole third base and made it home on an error at third base to cut the deficit to 14-2.
Kruse caught a fly out to secure the run-ruled victory.
Fink is the lone senior graduating from the Tigers’ program.
“Throughout the year, we’ve improved overall,” Tigers coach Jared Richey said. “Our pitching, hitting and fielding has all improved. Today wasn’t our best game, but we can still tell we’re making strides forward.
“We hadn’t been to the sectional championship game since 2012. Now, we’re contenders. I’m having other coaches tell us that we’re not a team to look past anymore. We’re here to fight and put up with the best of them.”
VonDielengen tossed 10 strikeouts in five innings while giving up five hits, one walk and an earned run.
“I was pretty confident. I had a few days off, and hadn’t pitched in a while, so my arm was feeling pretty live,” VonDielingen said. “My stuff was working, too.”
Peters was dealt the loss on the mound.
Trinity out-hit Crothersville 9-5 in the game and had three errors to the Tigers’ three.
Six different Cougars batters recorded a hit on the night, led by three from Moore.
“It’s just another step in the direction we’re wanting to go,” Moore said. “We wanted to play sound defense and do the fundamentals well. Our guys, all through the lineup, are capable of getting RBIs. If we can continue putting the bat on the ball good things will happen.”
Trinity Lutheran will play Northeast Dubois in the Loogootee Regional semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“If our pitching is what it has been of late, we just need to scratch out a few runs,” coach VonDielingen said. “Obviously we’re going to see some better pitching than we have seen a lot of this year. I think they’re up to the task. If we can scratch out three or four, I think we can get a victory.”
The regional championship game will be held that same night at 8 p.m. against the winner of the 11 a.m. game between Lanesville and North Daviess/Loogootee.