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McCutcheon, Lafayette Jeff baseball advance
June 3, 2014Lafayette Jefferson High School
Thursday night's Class 4A Lafayette Jeff baseball sectional will be remembered by the home run for different reasons.
Logan Sowers' three-run opposite-field blast was the difference in McCutcheon's 7-1 victory over Western at Loeb Stadium.
In the nightcap, a two-run home run by Austin Albrecht carried Lafayette Jeff past Marion 5-2, giving the senior another moment to pay tribute to his mother, Denise, who passed away in March.
As Albrecht rounded first base, he pumped his fist in the air, excited to give the Bronchos a 2-0 lead but also to honor Denise. It was his first career home run.
"A little bit of both," Albrecht said of the significance.
Austin, his younger brother Alex — the team's sophomore shortstop — and the entire family have slowly moved forward since Denise passed away on March 26 following a battle with cancer. The brothers wear a black wristband with the words "Mom" inside a heart.
"First at-bat, stepping up in sectionals and the whole family is up there watching," said Austin, who totaled two hits, two runs and had three RBI. "As soon as I hit that ball, I know she was watching down. They were happy to see that."
Austin bats in the No. 3 position because of necessity. Jeff coach Scott McTagertt would prefer the outfielder lead off, but he needs him to be a run producer.
"He's our leadoff hitter, but he's just our best hitter," McTagertt said. "We had to move him there. He was the only person driving in runs."
McTagertt has been impressed how Austin and Alex have dealt with their mother's death.
"For him and his brother to be out here competing as well as they've competed, they're absolutely gutsy," he said. "At times, you can see their hearts aren't in it. But when it's on the line, I wouldn't have another player batting for me other than Austin. That kid competes."
The Bronchos built a 5-0 lead after two innings, but freshman pitcher Chandler Ferguson survived four walks and overcame two errors by his teammates to push Jeff into Saturday's semifinals.
In the opener, the Mavericks (22-8) took advantage of two errors, two walks and a hit batsman to build a 6-0 lead after two innings.
Sowers' home run, which cleared the right center field wall, came after Western pitcher Evan Warren walked two batters and hit Braden Giroux to load the bases. Sean Roginski's sacrifice fly gave McCutcheon a 2-0 lead and the Indiana-bound Sowers followed with his 10th home run of the season.
"I saw a fastball and I was looking for a fastball," said Sowers, who finished 4-for-4 with three singles. "It was a little up over the plate and I put a good swing on it and it went."
The early lead was more than enough for starting pitcher Jordan Young, who struck out 10 and walked just one over six innings to earn his 10th victory of the season.
"He's thrown that way all year," coach Jake Burton said. "He has control of his pitches and he spots them well. He throws any pitch in any count and he gets ahead. If you throw first-pitch strikes, you're going to have success out there."
The quick start was crucial in McCutcheon's first tournament game.
"We had to jump on them early or they were going to jump on us," Sowers said. "They're a good team. We had to go out there and get it done early."
Meanwhile, the Panthers were playing in the Class 4A tournament for the first time after moving up because of the IHSAA's tradition factor. Western won the Class 3A state title in 2012 and advanced to the semistate last season.
The early miscues were too much for the Panthers (18-8) to overcome.
"A team like McCutcheon, you almost have to play flawless baseball,' first-year coach Quentin Brown said. "You give a team like that free bases and you have the Sowers kid with the big knock. It's tough to dig yourself out of a six-run deficit."