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Indiana ace leading team toward section title

| Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 11:12 p.m.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Indiana's Sean Thompson delivers a pitch Monday, April 22, 2013, at Greensburg Salem.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Indiana first baseman Zach Schultz takes a pickoff attempt from pitcher Sean Thompson as Greensburg Salem's Sam Nowicki dives back to the bag during a game Monday, April 22, 2013, at Greensburg Salem.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Jaime Fell practices Monday, March 18, 2013, at Frazier.

Indiana right-hander Sean Thompson just finished another pitching gem Monday at Greensburg Salem, a nifty four-hitter with nine strikeouts in a 5-1 victory to help the Indians maintain their one-game lead in Section 2-AAA.

Thompson, who had an ice pack on his shoulder and elbow after his outing, is pleased with the way the team has been playing. Indiana, which has now won seven consecutive games after beating Uniontown Tuesday, improved to 10-2 overall and 6-1 in the section.

“Winning is always fun,” Thompson said after he improved to 4-0. “Coach (Rob) Stossel has done a good job with us, but we've been playing together for quite a while. We anticipated that we'd have a good season.”

Thompson is a big reason why Indiana could be a sleeper when the WPIAL playoffs begin next month.

He has 47 strikeouts in 30 innings and has allowed only one earned run. Monday's run was unearned.

“He's our ace,” Stossel said. “He works hard, takes care of his arm, he knows how to work batters and his mental approach matches his athletic ability. We had him penciled in as our No. 1, and he wants the ball.”

Thompson, who also plays quarterback, was 6-0 last year with a 2.50 ERA.

“My state of mind is a lot better,” Thompson said. “I'm able to keep my head in tough situations.”

Thompson mixes his pitches well and has a good fastball and off-speed pitch.

“He's the best pitcher we've faced in the section,” Greensburg Salem coach Jim Stewart said. “Against a pitcher like him, you have to take advantage of your opportunities, and we didn't.

“They're in the driver's seat with him. They also have another good pitcher, but we haven't seen him.”

Left-hander Danny Clark, also a junior, has pitched well his last two outings, Stossel said. Clark also plays center field and is the team's leadoff hitter.

Clark, Thompson, shortstop Ryan Creps and left fielder Bo Putt are all hitting better then .500. Led by a solid top half of the lineup, Indiana had eight hits Monday.

“I'm not surprised they're doing so well.” Stossel said of his team, which doesn't have a senior starter. “We thought we had a lot of physical ability. They play as a team and are not selfish. They love to play and they want to be here.”

Indiana's only section blemish was a 17-16 loss to Laurel Highlands, when it blew an eight-run lead. After a loss to Hollidaysburg in the Curve Classic in Altoona, Indiana has bounced back.

“We're playing good baseball,” Stossel said.

Stossel returned to coaching this season after a five-year absence. He replaced Mark Morrow after a 10-10 season.

Stossel stepped away from coaching at Homer-Center (2005-07) to spend more time with his four young children. Under Stossel, Homer-Center reached the PIAA Class A title game in 2005, only to lose to Christopher Dock, 6-2.

Stossel said offseason workouts went well, helping ease the transition as the players honed their skills.

“We're committed to excellence,” Stossel said. “The players have bought into what we're doing.”

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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