Crowley, big first inning carry Jaguars to win
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – When Mack Crowley walked to the mound in the bottom of the first inning, he was about as calm as could be, and for good reason.
The Ashwaubenon pitcher was spotted four runs by his offense in the top of the frame, taking all the pressure off of him against the Green Bay Southwest baseball team.
It certainly helped Crowley was on his game.
Crowley threw a complete-game shutout, striking out six and scattering seven hits as the Jaguars held that four-run lead the entire afternoon in a 4-0 Fox River Classic Conference victory May 25.
“It was a great win,” Ashwaubenon coach Jay Krueger said. “The team came out sharp in the beginning, scored four runs there in that first inning and then from there, our defense and Mack Crowley took over. Our defense kept us in there.”
Crowley said the early offense helped.
“That’s a good feeling when your offense delivers,” he said. “It allows you to stay chill, and I felt more comfortable from there on out.”
Crowley was sharp and in control throughout.
Southwest had runners on first and second in both the third and fifth innings with two outs, but Crowley escaped both jams unscathed.
The Trojans (5-12, 2-9 FRCC) had ample opportunities to score – leaving six runners on base – but couldn’t cash in.
“It’s something we’ve struggled with,” Green Bay Southwest coach Matt Rukamp said. “We try to clutch up – we’re looking for one of those guys to step up and clutch up with that hit. It’s a game of baseball: sometimes you hit them all, and sometimes you leave them out hanging.”
Krueger said Crowley was consistent from his first pitch to the last.
Crowley, who only threw around 80 pitches in the complete game, said his fastball was working well early, and then he mixed in his off-speed pitches in the later innings.
“Just about everything was working for him – all his pitches were dead-on,” Krueger said. “He has great control. He puts the ball where he wants to put it, so he moves the ball around the zone.”
Ashwaubenon’s first two hitters, Easton Hurd and Brady Wittig, both reached base to start the game and came around to score on an errant pickoff attempt at third base.
Boone Kirst then reached on an error and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Andrew Pludeman.
With two outs, Cam Jackson laced a double and scored on an Eli Zollar double to make it 4-0.
“We were shaky in the first, but once we settled down, we kept the score right where it was at 4-0,” Rukamp said. “You’ve got to execute right away. You can’t give teams things they don’t earn.”
A four-run cushion was all the run support Crowley needed.
“Especially with our last few games, we knew we needed to jump on them right away,” Crowley said. “That’s exactly what we did.”
Kaiden Bruley took the loss for Southwest.
After a rough first inning, Bruley settled in.
He went six innings and allowed seven hits and struck out five.
The win moved Ashwaubenon to 10-3 overall and 9-2 in the Fox River Classic Conference.
The Jaguars are tied for second with De Pere in the conference standings.
Bay Port (10-1) has a one-game lead at the top.
“We’ve got big games coming up toward the end of the season, but so do all the top teams in the conference,” Krueger said. “We’re all playing each other those last couple weeks.”
Staying in the mix for the conference title gives the Ashwaubenon players extra motivation to play well each time they hit the diamond.
“It keeps us all trying and practicing hard,” Crowley said. “It was an important game.”