SANGER — Logan Looper is known more for being the top reliever in Sanger’s pitching rotation than a starter, but when coach Steve Ford called on him to start in the Indians’ biggest game to date, he didn’t disappoint.
Looper pitched 5 1/3 shutouts innings and allowed just five hits in only his second start of the season while Sanger made sure he had plenty of run support in a 9-1 win over Decatur on Tuesday. Both teams came in with spotless district records, but thanks to Looper, the Indians are alone at the top of the District 9-3A standings.
“He [Looper] is a long reliever for us; that’s been his role since before the start of the season to come in as early as the second inning if our starter doesn’t have his best stuff,” Ford said. “But I wanted to start him tonight because he’s earned it. He seized it and put together a great start for us tonight.”
Sanger (14-6-1, 4-0 district) pounded out 13 hits, five for extra bases, and scored at least one run in all but two of its innings. Austen Lange went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs. Julien Ly also tripled and finished 2-for-2 with two RBIs.
Roy Hedgecock, Wilding Smith and Ted Wisdom all doubled for the Indians.
Lange got Sanger on the board in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run triple to the wall in left-center field. Ly followed with his triple, which rolled to the exact same spot in the outfield to give Sanger a 3-0 lead. The Indians added two runs in the third inning, one in the fourth and three more in the sixth.
But the story was Looper, who held Decatur (10-10-2, 3-1) to three hits through his first three innings of work. Even when Looper appeared to be laboring a bit after giving up a double to the Eagles’ Nick Trachta in the top of the fourth, he forced Christian Carrillo into an inning-ending double play.
Sanger was spotless on defense and finished the game with three double plays. Decatur had three errors and didn’t plate its lone run until the top of the sixth inning.
“We’re definitely hitting the ball well, but the one thing we wanted to focus on this season was our defense and pitching,” Ford said. “We have a lot of guys who can throw strikes, and double plays are something we have come to expect. Our expectation is to win every game and that has really motivated the guys. This was a big one for us and we’re going to continue to get after everybody [we face].”
Sanger 9, Decatur 1
WP — Logan Looper. LP — Mason Baur. 3B — S: Austen Lange, Julien Ly. 2B — S: Roy Hedgecock, Wilding Smith, Ted Wisdom. D: Nick Trachta, Austin Givens. Records — Sanger 14-6-1, 4-0; Decatur 10-10-2, 3-1.