Rangers drop tight sectional championshipMay 31, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
TELL CITY — The familiar cadence of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” illuminated Monday evening’s Sectional 48 championship game between Forest Park (17-10) and North Posey.
The Pocket Athletic Conference foes engaged in a pitchers’ duel, and the Rangers fell just short in the competitive 2-0 contest.
“We handled adversity this year,” Forest Park head coach Jarred Howard said. “We played half the season with three, four or five guys hurt. We had a bunch of young guys playing. They just kept battling. I’m proud of how they just stuck with it. They handled adversity and kept going out. They were just giving it their all.”
The teams engaged in a hard-fought PAC contest back on March 11 — a game where North Posey earned a close 5-3 win. The meeting’s second iteration did not disappoint anyone who hoped for another gripping game.
Batting as the home team on the scoreboard, Forest Park allowed one run in the top of the first inning and another run in the top of the fourth.
Rangers junior pitcher Drew Howard allowed just three hits and three walks in his complete game. North Posey senior hurler Kyle LaVanchy matched the complete-game effort.
“We have nothing but respect for them,” Jarred said about the Vikings. “I think that they can’t do anything but respect us. We didn’t hurt ourselves. They went out and won the ball game tonight.”
The Rangers tallied three hits in the game. Sophomore Clayton Weisheit, freshman Joel Bueltel and junior Brody Klem contributed one hit apiece. Forest Park threatened with two runners in scoring position during the bottom of the seventh inning, but could not push a run across the plate.
Still, the Rangers’ effort throughout their last three games lit a fire under their dugout.
“All of our sectional games have been close games,” Jarred said. “They just battled. They kept their heads down and kept trying to get after it. They did a good job.”
Forest Park loses just one senior, Gage Hasenour.
Jarred was effusive in his praise for Hasenour, whom he highlighted as a prime example of resilience through injury.
“I told him the other day that he was the most mentally tough kid that I’ve ever coached because of how he handled adversity,” Jarred said. “He’s going to do great things in life because of that. He never hung his head. He’s always positive. He just kept coming to work. That’s what he leaves our guys.”
A strong nucleus returns next year, and the Rangers are optimistic about their future. Now, they will shift their focus to improving on the diamond.
“We know we have a good ballclub coming back,” Jarred said. “There’s things we need to work on and get better at. There’s no doubt about it. We’re excited for where our program is. We’ll digest this tonight and maybe tomorrow. Then, we’ll try to find a way to start getting back after it. The season goes fast. We start playing in early April. At the end of May, it’s over. It’s a grind, but we enjoyed it.”
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