Lapel knocks off Alex as both wind down busy weeks

May 3—LAPEL — Sometimes an early boost of confidence is all it takes to succeed.

That certainly seemed to be the case for Lapel junior Darl Gustin, who pitched well into the sixth inning in his first deep outing of the year Friday, and the Bulldogs took a 7-2 win over Alexandria.

The county rivals had several things in common entering Friday's game. Both had been playing well, Lapel (12-3) has won six in a row and eight of nine while Alex (12-7) saw a modest two-game win streak come to an end.

Alexandria looked tired at times as it completes a busy week that included a pair of Central Indiana Conference games while Lapel will finish its own crowded stretch with a pair of games Saturday morning against Mississinewa and Northfield.

"We didn't play defense like we normally do. My guess is (Lapel) only had three or four earned runs," Alex coach Jeff Closser said. "We were a tired team. You could tell we were tired. We'll take the weekend off, come back fresh and try to win a (Nick Muller Madison County Tournament) championship."

Both squads also were missing key components to their success. The Tigers have lost star centerfielder — and Anderson University commit —Collin Johns for the season with a knee injury while the Bulldogs were without Cody Baker and Rylie Hudson as well as head coach Matt Campbell after all three were ejected from Thursday's 6-1 win over Hamilton Heights.

None of that seemed to matter to Gustin, who threw a scoreless top of the first before he and his teammates grabbed a big early lead in the bottom half.

Camden Novak led off with a single and scored on a double to right-center by Kai Newman. Newman scored an out later on a single by Landon Brown, and Ray Smith added an RBI single to give Lapel an early 4-0 lead.

"It felt really good," Gustin, who also reached base and scored in the inning, said. "I tried throwing too hard and walked some people, but I calmed down after that, threw strikes and let my defense do the work."

The Tigers answered with all of their scoring coming in the second inning, thanks to one base hit and some wildness from Gustin.

Aaron Matthews led off with a single and advanced to second when Trevor Martin was hit in the face by a Gustin pitch. Martin left the game but remained in the dugout with the team after treating the injury with ice. Closser said there didn't appear to be any serious injury, but X-rays would likely be done to be sure.

Gustin walked a pair in the inning, and both Matthews and Owen May, who replaced Martin on the basepaths, scored on wild pitches to halve the Lapel lead.

But Lapel came right back with a run in the second after Novak doubled and scored on a Brown sacrifice fly and another in the third on a bases-loaded walk to Newman.

The Bulldogs added one more in the fifth frame on a one-out triple by Novak — who came up a home run shy of hitting for the cycle — and a wild pitch.

Gustin was on cruise control after the second. He retired the Tigers in order in the third and fifth innings, often the beneficiary of Lapel's defense, particularly the play of Novak at shortstop and Brown at second base.

"His first long start for us this year, he did a quality job of just going out there and being around the plate," Lapel assistant coach Ryan Scott said. "He made them hit, and our defense did a great job backing him up out there, and the middle infield was spectacular."

"I surprised myself, I did not think I'd go that deep, so I'm just proud of the work that I've put in," Gustin added. "(The defense) gives me so much more confidence. They know they have the confidence to make any play that needs made and look smooth while doing it."

Gustin had a hand in the Lapel defense with six putouts from the mound to go with five strikeouts.

The Tigers got a pair of runners aboard with one out in the sixth on a single by Carson Cuneo and a walk, prompting Scott to bring in Talan Jarrett to relieve Gustin.

Jarrett immediately retired the first two batters he faced to end the threat and, after loading the bases with two out in the seventh, retired Cuneo on a grounder to Novak to end it.

It was Jarrett's first outing of the season.

After resting up over the weekend, Alexandria will host Wes-Del on Monday. In one week, the Tigers will host Pendleton Heights in the postponed Muller championship game.

After the two games Saturday, Lapel travels to Heritage Christian on Monday.

Contact Rob Hunt at or 765-640-4886.