Carlisle Cruises for 11-1 Victory Against Gary + Preps to Defend Class A Title
PRICE -- Blink and you might miss the Carlisle Indians' hometown of Price. But it is here something special appears to be brewing.
Carlisle (17-3, 13-0) is gearing up to defend its 2013 Class A state championship and cruised to an 11-1 win against Gary for its 48th-straight District 20-A win while the school itself tried to sell off the remaining "2013 Champions" merchandise. The state's second-ranked Class A team had already clinched the 2014 district title with a 16-0 win against Leverett's Chapel on Friday.
"We've been looking for this all year," catcher Justin McMurtry said. "We're ready to get there. We want to go back. We want all that again."
The team returned four starters from its state team and its entire roster has familiarity with the state tournament whether the players were in the dugout or in the stands for last year's championship run.
"It's big for us," Colley said. "The younger guys kind of feed off of that. They're stepping up and got some valuable experience on the ride with us last year. My seniors are just incredible. A lot of experience. When you play that way, and set that example, I'll always be proud of them."
With Carlisle's playoff fate already sealed, the environment surrounding Tuesday's game was very relaxed. Children played in the ground's batting cages, an owner's dog visited with other fans and people simply tried to adjust back to warm weather on East Texas' hottest day of the year thus far.
But, on the field, skipper Wesley Colley pushed his club like he always does, and he wanted to stress test starting pitcher Ben Goss.
Goss responded by allowing three hits and a walk to seven strikeouts in the five-inning, run-ruled game. Gary's offense was stifled after the third inning other than a strikeout swinging wild pitch and the game's lone fielding error on what would have been the final out.
"We got to see Goss on the hill which was important for us because when we get to a Game 2 or a Game 3 in a playoff series we need to see what he can do," Colley said. "He was kind of extended today. We saw what he could do. He struggled a little bit early, but he stepped up and made some good quality pitches in the later innings."
It's hard to call Goss' outing stressful though.
The matchup was officially a home game for Gary but it was played at Carlisle.
As the away team, the Indians got on the board when leadoff man Caleb Colley homered the second pitch of the game to left field. Carlisle added two more runs on a McMurtry triple and sent seven more batters to the plate in the frame before Goss even took the mound.
Pitching a solid game was still important though.
Gary's Bodie Harvery scored on a wild pitch after reaching base on a leadoff hit to cut the Indians lead to 3-0, and Carlisle didn't muster much in the next two innings against Bobcats' starter Josh Bowen.
"I did a little better than I thought I would," Goss said. "I went a little longer than I thought I would. I just went out and tried to throw strikes and my defense played good behind me. That's all you can ask for."
Carlisle broke the game wide open in the top of the fourth with a bases-loaded walk and then a Zach Brightwell grand slam to center-right field two pitches later.
The Indians tacked on three final runs in the top fifth thanks largely in part to Caleb Colley's second home run of the night, a 2 RBIs shot that just barely escaped the reach of Gary left fielder Cody Lake.
The Indians will try to preserve their undefeated district season Saturday against Big Sandy in the regular-season finale and then will move on to play North Hopkins in an exhibition tuneup game, but there's nothing mathematically that can prevent Carlisle from enjoying a first-round bye in the playoffs.
"There's really not any pressure on us," Wesley Colley said. "We're the state champions until they crown another one in June, 2014. We are the state champions. I challenged them to play like it and just to go out and leave it all on the field. When you win a state championship, the pressure is off. Now we can just go play for fun."
Carlisle 11, Gary 1 (5 innings)
District 20-A Baseball
Gary home game at Carlisle High School
Carlisle 300 53 -- 11 9 1
Gary 100 00 -- 1 3 0
Pitchers and catchers
- Carlisle: Ben Goss and Justin McMurtry.
- Gary: Josh Bowden, David McClelland (5) and Colton Coleman.
WP -- Goss.
LP -- Bowden.
- Carlisle: Justin McMurtry.