TERRE HAUTE – A competitor to the core, Braden Giroux wasn’t satisfied with one exhibition victory.
The McCutcheon graduate wanted two.
Giroux went 2-for-5, also drawing three walks, scoring four times and stealing a base as the North swept a doubleheader against the South at Indiana State University’s Bob Warn Field on Friday.
The North’s two victories to open the three-game North/South All-Star series snapped a six-game losing streak to the South and assures the North its first series victory since 2012.
“It’s nice to end their winning streak like that,” Giroux said.
The North, victorious 10-6 in Game 1 and 11-8 in the nightcap, goes for its first series sweep since 2009 in Sunday’s wooden bat game that begins at 1 p.m.
For Giroux and Central Catholic’s Dylan Kiracofe, the all-star showcase not only gave them a chance to see quality competition before they move on to play college baseball, it reunited the longtime teammates who’d been on a two-year hiatus.
Kiracofe and Giroux were teammates through their sophomore year. Kiracofe transferred to CC his junior year.
Giroux played the entire series opener in left field. Kiracofe came off the bench to play third base and immediately felt at ease with his old teammate behind him.
“I think the thing about it is this brought back freshman and sophomore year, playing next to him in the outfield,” Kiracofe said. “Taking a couple years off kind of brought back those memories we had at McCutcheon.”
Frankfort’s Leo Lopez was credited with the Game 1 victory despite a rough outing as all six South runs came off local pitchers.
Spotted a 6-3 lead, the Hot Dog hurler allowed four hits in a three-run seventh. Garrett’s Dillin Diehm singled in Valparaiso’s Sammy Miller, putting Lopez back in line for the win.
Harrison ace Matt McConnell was tabbed with three runs in the fourth after tossing a perfect third.
“Everyone here is a really good athlete and it shows,” McConnell said. “You make a mistake and it really shows. You make a mistakes, they score three runs. Same with them. They make an error and we score three runs. You’ve really got to be on top of your game.”
The North prevailed with 18 hits in Game 1, along with the defense of Giroux and Kiracofe.
Giroux recorded three straight putouts, including back-to-back beauties with two runners in scoring position in the fifth and the North nursing a 4-3 lead.
Showing his range, Giroux tracked down Cale Hall’s fly to the left-center field fence for the second out of the fifth, then came blazing in on a shallow liner to snag the third out.
Giroux also got a bird’s eye view from left field of Kiracofe’s web gem at third base. Kiracofe made a sliding stab with two outs in the eighth, then showed off his arm by firing a one-hopper across the diamond in time for the out.
“It was cool to see Dylan play like that at third,” Giroux said of his old outfield mate. “I am used to seeing him make plays like that in center or left.”
North White’s Cole Frybort entered the opener as the designated hitter and was the starting catcher for Game 2.
Friday’s two victories assures the area’s five all-stars of ending their high school careers as winners as they embark on the next steps in their baseball careers.
“This is as close to college ball as you are going to get,” Giroux said. “Most everybody is committed. It is pretty close to what you are going to see at the next level.”