Frankel's gem helps send Bombers to semifinals



HUNTINGBURG — Dubois County starting pitcher Jacob Frankel tries to not to look up at the scoreboard when he’s pitching to see how many hits the opponents have gotten off of him.

But during Monday night’s win-or-go home game three against the Henderson Flash in the first round of the Ohio Valley League playoffs, Frankel couldn’t help but take a peek at the scoreboard and see a big old zero in the away team’s hit column.

“I think it was about the sixth or seventh inning that I knew,” said Frankel, talking about how he realized at that point that he had yet to give up a hit in the ballgame. “I could feel my body starting to wear down and I knew I had to dig down deep and try to get those final six outs — even though they did end up getting a hit, I still had fun out there.”

Henderson’s Brodie Brown did get a base hit with two outs in the top of the eighth inning but that was about all of the offense the Flash would get as the Bombers held on for a 1-0 victory on Monday night at League Stadium to advance to the Eastern Division semifinals against the Owensboro Riverdawgs with the first game tonight in Owensboro at 8 p.m. EST.

The lone run in the game was scored rather early as Dubois County got on the board in the bottom of the second inning. After Nolan Ramsey led off the inning with a single, shortly after he’d steal second base and advance all the way up to third on a wild throw. It was Tanner Craig who drove in Ramsey for the first (and only) run of the night courtesy of an RBI single as the Bombers would leave runners stranded on second and third base later in the inning following Trevor Ricker’s double.

Did Craig think there was anyway possible that his early run would be the only run scored on the night?

“No, not at all,” Craig said with a laugh. “I thought we would definitely score a few more and honestly I thought they’d score a couple too but I’m just glad it all worked out.”

It would seem reasonable to think that Henderson would at least put a couple runs on the board seeing as they scored five runs each in both games one and two but Frankel was not going to let anything come easy for the Flash.

Prior to the eighth inning, the Flash only had one runner reach base and that was Brown who took first base after being hit by a pitch in the top of the sixth. Brown was also the same batter that broke up the no-hitter in the top of the eighth inning as his ringing single to center field ended Frankel’s no-hit bid.

But after getting Walker Paris out to end the eighth, Bombers head coach Andy Lasher decided to bring Frankel back out in the top of the ninth inning even though the no-hit bid was gone.

“In summer ball I’m going to give guys what they deserve and Frankel deserved the chance to finish that game,” Lasher said. “(Frankel) was outstanding, you really can’t say enough about him and I’m not going to try to.”

After Frankel walked leadoff batter Cameron Chapman in the ninth inning, Lasher pulled out his starting pitcher to a rousing standing ovation from the Bomber faithful. He then turned to Tobe Whitten — the closer who had given up zero earned runs in 11 innings of work out of the pen.

While Whitten did issue a walk, he was able to get the final two batters of the inning out with back-to-back strikeouts and earn his fourth save of the season as the Bombers were able to clinch the victory.

After Frankel left the game, he felt very confident that his team would still be able to hold on to the victory when he saw who was coming out to the mound to replace him.

“I felt a lot more comfortable,” Frankel said about Whitten, who has thrown 25 strikeouts compared to just eight walks on the year. “(Tobe) is a great pitcher, I’ve loved watching him all summer and I knew he had my back if I couldn’t make it through the ninth so that felt good.”

Craig finished 2-of-4 for the Bombers with an RBI while Ricker and Cooper Trinkle both had doubles on the night.

Frankel’s final line score looked like this: eight innings pitched, one hit given up, no runs allowed, seven strikeouts and just two walks. What felt right on the mound for the IU-Southeast sophomore?

“I think my fastball — I had it located early and I just wanted to continue to pound the zone with it,” Frankel said. “After the first three or four innings, I realized they weren’t really catching up to it so I just kept going back to it every inning.”

With every game in their first round series decided by two runs or less, the Bombers are hoping their tough battles with the Flash will help them as they begin their hunt for another OVL championship.

“I think that if we get into some tight ball games against (Owensboro), then they might be a little more worried about it than we would,” Craig said.

Lasher added: “For the past two years, it seems like every game between us and Henderson has been close.“This (series) was a good way to get the competitive juices flowing and hopefully they can keep it going because this is a competitive group that’s come a long way. I think they want it just as bad as anyone else and I think that’s more important than anything.”

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