ELLETTSVILLE – Connor Thummel sure looked right at home.
That should not be such a surprise for a senior. Then consider it had been 11 months since he’d been on his own mound, facing down enemy batters. Even when he had pitched last May, it took a lot of work to get his arm ready to go after an injury.
“I was doing (physical therapy the last month of the seaosn just to be able to play in a game, let alone throw,” Thummel said.
This spring, unfavorable weather meant Edgewood’s baseball team has held just two practices on its own diamond. He missed the first three games waiting to get enough practices in, so he had pitched just once, last week at Bloomington South.
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Wednesday’s long-awaited home opener and Western Indiana Conference lid-lifter was rained out then rescheduled for a sunny but blustery Thursday. Finally. But Thummel looked anything but anxious, dominating is more like it, in the shocking 17-1, five-inning rout of Indian Creek.
“Definitely super eager,” Thummel said. “It was tough watching the team play. I had to just sit there and wait for my chance to get in.
“Against South, it was my first game, so I had to get the nerves out pretty much. For this game, I got to show out. It was just fun to get back in it.”
A now healthy Thummel fired a one-hitter over four innings and also got in no the 14-hit fireworks at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a home run and seven RBI. The Mustangs (2-4, 1-0) piled up 13 runs in the second and third innings to make his mound work pressure free.
“Good pitching performance by Connor,” Edgewood coach Bob Jones said. “I thought today, over his other performance, he walked the first kid on five pitches, then he adjusted.
“They’ve never pitched off this mound this year. Even in practice. He had the ball down in the zone. Last time, he had the ball up, but he got away with it.”
Swing and a miss
Thummel struck out eight and worked out of two jams.
He walked the leadoff hitter, who stole second and went to third on a ground out. The next batter bounced to third but Carson Druckrey did not throw across the diamond. He came home instead and got the runner hung up and into a rundown.
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In the fourth, Indian Creek (4-4, 1-1) had a single and double with one out, but Thummel fanned the next two batters to end the inning, giving way to Jacob Boggs to close it out.
Edgewood picked off another hesitant runner between third and home to end it.
“All around good play by our kids,” Jones said. “Hitting the cut-off man is something we talk about. We tell the kids there’s a good chance you can do more with that than throwing all the way to the plate.”
Drawing an ace
With Luke Hayden’s graduation and ascension to Indiana University, the Mustangs needed a new ace and Thummel (1-1) could be one of the answers.
“Against harder teams, I’ve already had to step up and throw in year past,” said Thummel, 4-2 with a 2.39 ERA last year while batting .312. “So it’s not really out of my element to have to step up to the plate. As a senior, it’s my obligation to take that role and do well.
“It’s not really out of anyone’s element. I’m sure anyone in the pitching staff could come out and do what they’re supposed to do.”
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Thummel has a variety of pitches, two fastballs, a curve, slider and changeup, but focus is the key.
“Just blocking out the fans really,” Thummel said. “Just throwing the ball to the glove. Just taking practice seriously and coming out and being able to perform how you practice definitely helps.”
Big bat bust out
Edgewood set a season high for hits, getting at least one from eight players.
Leadoff man Cam Ingalls went 2-for-2, scoring three times, Brayden Ault broke the game open with a bases clearing double in the second inning for a 7-0 lead after starter Nolan Ankney had already been chased.
Lefty Mack Headdy, filling in in right for his brother Gabe, went 3-for-3 in the No. 8 spot, making like Rod Carew with three singles in between short and third.
“You do not have to swing hard,” Jones said. “Just put it out there.”
Ziggy Teran, coming off a complete game win over Terre Haute North on Tuesday, smacked his first and the last first homer of the season. It was a two-run shot in a seven-run third that made it 14-0.
Thummel capped things off with his first career homer, a three-run blast that rode the breeze over the fence in left center.
“No, I thought it was a lineout for sure,” Thummel said. “I wasn’t even looking at it. Just put the bat out.”
Edgewood will head to Bedford North Lawrence looking to get on the kind of roll it did last year after a 3-5 start.
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“We’ve been playing bigger schools and seeing some decent pitching,” Jones said. “I was shocked. (Indian Creek was) behind Sullivan (on Tuesday) and came back and won, 7-3, which kind of scared me.”
But it was Thummel turned out to be the most frightening thing on the field, giving his team a big lift.
“For sure brought up the morale of the team,” Thummel said. “Start off 0-4, you just need a win.”
Contact Jim Gordillo at email@example.com and follow on Twitter @JimGordillo.
EDGEWOOD 17, INDIAN CREEK 1
Indian Creek (4-4, 1-1 WIC) 000 01— 1 4 2
Edgewood (2-4, 1-0) 167 3x — 17 14 0
W: Connor Thummel (1-1). L: Nolan Ankney (2-2). 2B: Arjun Lothe (IC), Brayden Ault (E). HR: Ziggy Taran (E), Thummel (E).