Senior righty Ryan Fender gets revenge as Crown Point rolls past Lake Central
By Mike Hutton – Post Tribune
Crown Point pitcher Ryan Fender had extra motivation Tuesday against Lake Central.
The lanky Fender wasn’t sharp last season against the Indians in the openere of the Duneland Athletic Conference series.ADVERTISING
It was a game he didn’t forget.
The senior right-hander was dialed in this time for the Bulldogs in an 11-3 victory.
Unhittable is a better word.
The 6-foot-3 Fender (3-0) struck out 14 and allowed only one walk on 95 pitches for Crown Point (8-0, 3-0).
Lake Central (4-1, 2-1) finished with three hits, but two were infield hits. The Indians didn’t get a hit until the fourth inning.
One more point.
Lake Central was caught looking on eight of the 14 strikeouts.
Fender was so good, hitters didn’t know what to think when they saw the pitch coming at them.
He was clearly ready.
“It was a big game,” Fender said. “I didn’t pitch well last year against them. We were two of the top teams in the conference (last year). I wanted to do what I did (Tuesday).”
Crown Point coach Steve Strayer said the key for Fender was keeping Lake Central off-balance. Fender was mixing a curve and a fastball.
“He was really unpredictable with his pitches,” Strayer said of Fender. “We try to have all our pitchers do the same thing. He was really locked in (Tuesday).”
Crown Point’s Christian Mojica rounds third after hitting a home run against Lake Central during the game on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Kyle Telechan / Post-Tribune)
Crown Point helped itself with its bats, roughing up Lake Central starter Alex James.
The Bulldogs chased James after just two innings, coming up with eight runs on seven hits.
James (1-1) had shut out Portage last week. Lake Central coach Mike Swartzentruber said James had a 7-0 record over the last two seasons.
“He just threw too many strikes up here,” Swartzentruber said, pointing at his chest. “He hasn’t been hit in two years. It’s unfortunate because he’s a good kid.
“They hit everything hard. It didn’t matter if it was a fastball, curveball or change-up. We’ll see how he bounces back. Baseball humbles you at times. It can be humbling for all of us.”
The hit that amped up Crown Point’s energy level and set the tone was a one-out rocket over the left-field fence by Christian Mojica in the first inning.
The two-run homer came against a crosswind that wasn’t helping balls hit that way.
Mojica was looking for a fastball on the outside part of the plate, but he turned on one inside and drove it hard.
Josh Lindeman, the No. 2 hitter, had doubled. That opened the flood gates.
Mojica said the team was familiar with James.
“We knew a lot about him,” he said. “We just all came out with a lot of energy and hit the ball well.”