Pettit hits 3-run homer, but John Glenn scores 4 in 7th to beat Valley
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
AKRON –- Jarred Littlejohn was just so happy to be back on a baseball diamond.
Yes, his Tippecanoe Valley baseball team lost to John Glenn 6-3, but this was a game for which he had been waiting nearly a year-and-a-half.
The loss was not going to kill his enthusiasm.
“I’ve had it circled since last year got canceled,” Littlejohn said. “I’ve been so ready. This is awesome. I love this time of the year. I love baseball. I’m just happy to be out here playing this year.”
Annakin Pettit hit a 3-run homer to center field in the fifth to account for Valley’s offense.
Valley led 3-1 after five innings, but John Glenn scored a run in the sixth and four in the seventh to win it.
Rex Kirchenstien made a diving catch in right field on Karsten Lang’s sinking liner in the top of the sixth with the bases loaded to retire the side and preserve Valley’s 3-2 lead.
Kirchenstien then came into pitch in the top of the seventh. He hit Colin Stephens and Brycen Hannah with pitches and allowed Frankie Lizzi’s ground-ball single to right. Stephen scored to tie the game, and Hannah moved to third.
Braylon Smith popped up. Apparently thinking there was a timeout, Valley did not pay attention to Lizzi, who then advanced to second after tagging up.
Konner Quinn, who was also the winning pitcher in relief of Stephens, then grounded to short, but Owen Kirchenstien’s throw home trying to get Hannah was late to give John Glenn a 4-3 lead.
Joe Chrapliwy grounded back to Rex Kirchenstien, who flipped home to Pettit for the tag on Lizzi and the second out.
But Rex Kirchenstien then walked Nathan Marshman, John Glenn’s No. 9 hitter, to load the bases, and Silas Kaser’s grounder just eluded Owen Kirchenstien for a two-run single to complete the scoring.
For the game, Valley pitchers walked three and hit five batters.
“A lot of our hit-by-pitches were breaking balls that we tried to start in and throw it over the inside of the plate,” Littlejohn said. “You know, I don’t want to make excuses but a cold day and with COVID and everything and not being able to lick the hands, it plays a little bit, especially on a cold day not being able to get that grip.”
Hannah pitched a hitless seventh with two strikeouts to save the win for Quinn. He walked Pettit with two outs but got D.J. Estep on a grounder to third to end the game.
Stephens started and pitched four scoreless innings for the Falcons. He also hit a solo homer to left-center field in the top of the fifth to break a scoreless tie.
Quinn relieved and gave up a double to Valley No. 9 hitter Damion Kohler to start the bottom of the fifth. Payton Mills walked, and one out later, Pettit, a sophomore playing in his first varsity game, launched a fly ball that the chilly wind pushed over the center field wall to give Valley a 3-1 lead.
“He plays a lot of baseball,” Littlejohn said of Pettit. “He’s been around baseball his whole life. His dad ran one of our youth leagues around here. So he’s been around it. He plays all summer. It’s all he does, tennis and baseball. And baseball’s his main one. I’ve got a lot of trust in him. As a sophomore, I have a lot of trust in the kid.”
Chrapliwy’s RBI double in the top of the sixth off Marcus Bernicky, who came into relieve starter Owen Kirchenstien, cut the Valley lead to 3-2. Estep came into relieve and got out of the inning thanks to Rex Kirchenstien’s diving catch.
Valley’s home game with Fairfield scheduled for Thursday was postponed to 5:30 p.m. April 19 due to forecasted cold weather.
With a spring break next week, they won’t play again until April 12 at Triton.
“It sucks,” Littlejohn said. “We’re going to bounce back. We go on spring break next week and come back and play after spring break. We’re going to come back. We’re going to compete. We’re going to keep getting better.”
John Glenn 6, Valley 3
John Glenn 000 011 4 – 6 6 1
Valley 000 030 0 – 3 6 2
WP – Konner Quinn (2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K)
LP – Rex Kirchenstien (⅔ IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 HBP, 0 K)
2B – Joe Chrapliwy (JG), Annakin Pettit (TV), Damion Kohler (TV)
HR – Colin Stephens (JG), Annakin Pettit (TV)