Photo provided by Joe Boswell 
(From left) Crawfordsville seniors Andrew Swart, Mitchell Ray, Jason Spurlock, Cameron Hobson, Blake Harris, Cody Dowell and Justin Wright show off the Class 3A State championship trophy.
Photo provided by Joe Boswell
(From left) Crawfordsville seniors Andrew Swart, Mitchell Ray, Jason Spurlock, Cameron Hobson, Blake Harris, Cody Dowell and Justin Wright show off the Class 3A State championship trophy.
INDIANAPOLIS - After catching Crawfordsville High School baseball team's 17th and final strikeout, senior Mitchell Ray hung onto the ball, nestling it in the top of his glove.

He jumped up, took two steps past home plate and then made eye contact with sophomore pitcher Steven Rice.

He was ready for the celebration, for the pile-on, for the excitement after they had made Indiana High School Athletic Association State championship title history.

Crawfordsville senior pitcher Cameron Hobson and Rice combined to strike out 17 batters as the Class 3A No. 5 Athenians scored a 5-1 IHSAA Class 3A State championship game victory Saturday over Mishawaka Marian at Victory Field in Indianapolis.

After Rice notched the game-winning strikeout, he and Ray raced to each other halfway between the pitcher's mound and home plate, jumped, chest-bumped and then fell to the ground, as the rest of the Athenians leapt on top of them.

"It's unexplainable," Rice said. "We had a great game out of Cameron. His pitching was amazing. The seniors deserved this game. They've been working for this since eighth grade. It's just awesome."

Crawfordsville (31-4) finished its season on a 17-game winning streak and won the school's and Montgomery County's first IHSAA State baseball title. Crawfordsville coach John Froedge also earned his first championshp in 27 years.

It's the Athenians' first State team title since 1975 overall (girls tennis) and first boys team State title since 1956 (boys golf).

Ranked as pre-season No. 1 in the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association poll, the Athenians finished the season right where they started - on top.

"On March 10th, I posted the (preseason) poll and a practice plan and the first thing I typed was 'the real number one team is the last team standing at Victory Field," Froedge said.

Crawfordsville's pitching staff mowed down batter after batter after batter Saturday.

Hobson pitched five innings and then to one batter in the sixth, tying an IHSAA Class 3A State championship game record with 11 strikeouts - including seven in the first three innings He tied the Class 3A record of 11 strikeouts set by Jasper's Heath Uppencamp in the 1998 State title game against Westfield.

Hobson struck out three batters each in the top of the second and fifth innings.

Rice added more pitching punch - striking out six batters - in the final two innings. Over the last two weeks, at the Jasper Semistate and State finals, 12 of his 13 outs have been via strikeout.

"I thought I could have gone longer but maybe not," said Hobson, who allowed only three hits and gave up one earned run. "But Steven, he's a good bet to go with."

So was Froedge's small-ball offense.

Crawfordsville manufactured all five of its runs by playing small ball.

Senior Mitchell Ray hit an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning, while senior Justin Wright added an RBI single in the second.

Junior Brett McKinney added an RBI flyout in the bottom of the fourth inning to give Crawfordsville a 3-0 lead.

Mishawaka Marian's Mike Karason hit an RBI single in the top of the fifth cut the lead to 3-1.

But Crawfordsville answered with one more short-game scoring outburst in the bottom of the sixth.

After Hobson hit a triple to the centerfield warning track, junior Brett Linn had an RBI on a suicide squeeze and McKinney hit an RBI single pushing the lead to 5-1.

McKinney finished with a team-high two RBI, while Ray and Wright each added one.

Linn also stole a Class 3A State championship game record three bases and the Athenians finished with a Class 3A State finals game record with four total stolen bases.

"You just live for this," McKinney said. "It's an awesome feeling - to be one of the four teams in the state that didn't finish their season with a loss. This is the first time in (more than) 50 years Crawfordsville has won a State championship trophy. It's indescribable. I get goosebumps and down. It's awesome."

Senior first baseman/pitcher Andrew Swart and the Athenians' other six seniors have worked for this goal since seventh-grade, when they joined together on Crawfordsville's middle school summer league team with assistant coach Rhett Welliever.

They finally reached their goal. And they finally had their moment.

"We performed all year and all the guys knew this was their last game," Swart said. "We came out and played with our hearts and let the game happened and turned it on like I thought we would."