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LOUISVILLE – District 29 play doesn’t start until next week, but North Oldham made a district statement Wednesday night.
Evan Cripe pitched a complete game shutout as North beat cross-town rival South Oldham 1-0 in the championship game of the Derby City Baseball Classic at Butler High School.
The senior left-hander gave up just four hits and two walks over seven innings as the Mustangs (7-3) notched their fourth win over three days to take the 16-team event.
“After playing a game like this and realizing what we can do,” Cripe said, “it just sets us up for success.”
Cripe was squared up in a pitchers duel with fellow southpaw Drew Lively of South (6-3).
Cripe and Lively both started the game with two shutout innings.
“(Lively) threw a little harder and had a little bigger breaking ball,” North coach Erik Phelps said. “Ours, Cripe, he’s just kind of gamey.
“He tries to live in the bottom half of the zone and mixes in a breaking ball, but he just really loves to compete. He’s a lot of fun to watch.”
After giving up a single to Dragon center fielder Devin Bishop to begin the bottom of the first, Cripe buckled down and sat the next nine South hitters down in order.
“The second inning I found my location,” Cripe said. “The first inning I was kind of throwing the ball in the strike zone. I wasn’t locating inside, outside.
“From the second inning on I felt like I could spot up where I needed to throw it.”
The Mustangs gave their pitcher a lead to work with in the third inning.
Ethan Cleary led off with a single. He stole second, then advanced to third on a wild pitch.
Shortstop Cameron Masterman drove Cleary home with an RBI single to give North a 1-0 lead.
“With Ethan on third I was just trying to hit the ball on the ground to get him in,” Masterman said. “I just got a pitch down the middle and drove it back up the middle.”
That run proved to be all the offense Cripe needed.
Cripe gave up singles by Jarred Brussell and Drew Greenwood in the fourth inning, putting runners on the corners with one out. But he got Drew Ellis to pop out to shortstop and Eddie Mathis to fly out to center after an eight-pitch at-bat to end the inning.
South threatened again in the sixth. Cripe walked Greenwood and gave up a single to Ellis with two outs, putting two runners on base for Mathis.
But Cripe struck Mathis out looking with a sharp curveball to end the inning.
After North failed to add any run support in the seventh inning, Phelps had a choice: leave Cripe out on the mound for his seventh inning or bring a fresh arm out of the bullpen.
“When he struck out Mathis in the sixth, I asked him what he had left in the tank, and of course he said he had plenty,” Phelps said. “…I trust what he has to tell me. He’s all guts.”
Cripe struck Tyler Fitch out for the first out. He gave up a walk to Tanner Johnson. Johnson then moved to second on a groundball hit by Will Moriarty.
The game came down to Cripe vs. Bishop with two outs, a runner on second and the margin just one run.
Cripe fought through his fatigue to strike Bishop out swinging and end the game. The strikeout was the fourth of the night for Cripe, who was named tournament MVP.
“Evan just shut them out today,” Masterman said of his pitcher.
Cripe’s gem was another strong pitching performance for a North team that got plenty of them this week.
Cleary and Adam Judd combined to shut Fern Creek out Monday. Logan Morsman got the win against Southern Tuesday. Trevor Grady took care of Wheaton North in the semifinals Wednesday afternoon, and Cripe handled the Dragons Wednesday night.
We’ve got depth,” Phelps said. “We’ve got guys that throw first pitch strikes and they get a breaking ball over, they live in the bottom of the zone, they handle the running game. All these guys can pitch.”
South starts district play at Trimble County Monday, while North starts its district season Tuesday at Oldham County.
While Wednesday’s game didn’t count toward district standings, it was still a big victory for the team, Phelps said.
“I try to say it’s just another game,” Phelps said. “But playing South and the kids being pumped up… it certainly feels good.”
North Oldham (7-3) – 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 – 1 7 1
South Oldham (6-3) – 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 4 1
COUNTY REPRESENTATIVES ON THE ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Tournament MVP: Evan Cripe