RABBIT REVIEW WEEK 1: WELCOME TO THE NORTHWOODS LEAGUE

New Kokomo Jackrabbits second baseman Dylan Dohanos. (SJ photo/William Gibson)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – For the fifth consecutive summer, the Kokomo Jackrabbits will call Municipal Stadium home for the next two months. But new this year is the squads move from the Prospect League to the more competitive, and much-larger, Northwoods League. After one week of play, the Jackrabbits are proving that they are competitive in the Great Lakes East Division with a 3-4 record against division competition.

The Rabbits opened the 2019 campaign on the road against the Madison Mallards, which averages more than 6,000 fans a game, dropping a pair of games 11-1 and 7-2. They returned to the friendly confines of Municipal Stadium and split a pair of series with the Kenosha Kingfish and Rockford Rivets.

Against Kenosha, the Jackrabbits dropped game one 8-7 in 11 innings before winning its first-ever game in the Northwoods League with a thrilling 4-3 victory. The Kingfish led 3-0 going into the bottom of the sixth, but the Rabbits struck for a pair. Down 3-2 after seven, Kokomo went to a small ball attack to take the lead courtesy of a pair of sacrifice bunts from Ethan Gallagher and Austin Elder. Leading 4-3 with the tying run on second, right fielder Chase Keng sealed the win with a sensational diving catch in foul territory near the brick wall.

The Jackrabbits second win came in walk-off fashion last Sunday afternoon. Rockford struck first with three in the first only to see Kokomo score two in the bottom of the inning courtesy of singles from Logan Jarvis and Evan Albrecht and a two-run double from Elder. An RBI single from Jack Kraus scored Jeff Timko in the sixth to tie the game at three. The Rivets countered with two in the top of the seventh. Kokomo scored in the bottom of the seventh on a Ryan Layne triple followed by a Jarvis single.

Trailing 5-4 going to the bottom of the ninth, Denzel Clarke led the inning off with a walk only to see the next two Rabbits strike out. Albrecht followed with a walk and Clarke tied the game off a Keng single. The Rivets then brought in Hunter Keim to shut the door, but his second pitch bounced away from the catcher and Albrecht scored with the rare wild pitch walk-off to win.

Kokomo is back in action at Municipal Stadium for a pair of games against Kenosha on June 5-6 (7:05 p.m. both days). After a four-game road trip, the Traverse City Pit Spitters makes its first visit to Kokomo for a four-game series starting on June 11.

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TAYSON PARKER AND QUINCY ARMSTRONG EARN IHSAA MEDALS AT THE STATE TRACK FINALS

Northwestern junior Tayson Parker accepts his state runners-up medal in the long jump. (Photo provided)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

KOKOMO, Ind. – At the 116th Annual IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals, Northwestern junior Tayson Parker stood on the podium three times to lead all Howard County student-athletes. Kokomo’s Quincy Armstrong also earned a state finals medal as the local area was well represented on the state stage at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Parker’s best effort came in the long jump, where he earned a state runners-up medal one year after placing fifth at the state finals. His jump of 23-10 was just short of state champion Thomas Pierce of Brownsburg, who had a 23-11.5 effort.

But Parker’s day was not done. He placed fourth in the 200-meter run with a time of 21.76 after clocking a 21.42 in the preliminary races. The prelim time was a Northwestern school record. His day was not complete, though, as he also earned a sixth-place medal after running 10.88 in the 100-meter dash (10.78 in the prelims). Also, for Northwestern, junior Evan Gaylor placed 24th in the shot put with a throw of 46-10.75

For Kokomo, Armstrong took home a fourth-place medal with a time of 38.61 in the 300-meter hurdles. The junior placed 12th in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.98. Kokomo senior Steven Edward earned a 13th place finish in the 100 dash with a time of 10.96. The Wildkats foursome of Chris Thomas, Noa Wainscott, Andra Nash and Edwards set a personal record with a time of 43.11 to place 18th in the 400-meter dash. Senior Julian Wallace placed 26th in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:03.84.

North Central won the boys state title with 42 points, one point more that state runners-up Pike. Northwestern placed a respectable 11th with 18 points while Kokomo was 42nd with six points.

On the girls side, Northwestern’s Joan Easter finished 20th in the long jump (16-8.25) while teammate Makala Pfefferkorn was 21st (16-7.75). Pfefferkorn also placed 25th in the 100-meter hurdles (16.35) and 26th in the 300-meter hurdles (48.5).

Former Kokomo Lady Wildkat runner Tionna Brown, the defending state champion in the 200-meter dash, placed seventh this year while running for Fort Wayne Northrop (24.58). She earned a state runners-up medal in the 100-meter dash (11.9) and an eighth-place medal as a member of the 400-meter relay team.

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SIMON PAGENAUD WINS THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500

SImon Pagenaud passed Alexander Rossi late in the race to capture his first Indianapolis 500. (SJ photo/Douglas Hockney)

INDIANAPOLIS – Simon Pagenaud completed his May mission with the biggest win of his racing life, capturing the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge in a duel for the ages and extending Team Penske’s dominance in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Pagenaud edged Alexander Rossi by 0.2086 of a second following a thrilling clash over the final 14 laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that had the crowd at the world’s largest single-day sporting event on its feet and screaming with excitement. It was the seventh-closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history.

“It’s amazing. It’s another dream come true, and the biggest dream of my life come true,” said Pagenaud, the 35-year-old native of Montmorillon, France. “It’s hard to fathom, really. It’s really hard to process it right now, but I’m just filled with a lot of joy.”

Pagenaud and Rossi swapped the lead five times in the closing laps, the last when Pagenaud roared his yellow No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet outside of and past Rossi’s No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda heading into Turn 3 on the 199th of 200 laps around the famous 2.5-mile oval.

From there, Pagenaud wasn’t to be denied in collecting his first Indy 500 triumph and 13th career NTT IndyCar Series victory. On the heels of his win May 11 in the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course, Pagenaud became the first driver to win more than one NTT IndyCar Series race this season and second Team Penske pilot to win both IMS races in the same year – following Will Power in 2018.

“I drove really spirited today, but it’s just incredible,” Pagenaud said. “I can’t take all the credit because I think it showed I had the best car out there.

“The car was just on rails; the yellows came out perfectly. The stars are aligned. … It’s pretty amazing.”

Pagenaud, the 2016 NTT IndyCar Series champion, also pushed to 18 the number of Indianapolis 500 wins for team owner Roger Penske. It’s a total 13 more than the next nearest owner.

Pagenaud becomes the fifth driver born in France to win the Indianapolis 500 and first since former Team Penske driver Gil de Ferran in 2003.

“Simon wasn’t going to be beat today,” Penske said. “He raced clean, and that’s what I have to say about Rossi also. The two of them for the laps that they ran side by side was as good of racing as you’ve ever seen here.”

With double race points available Sunday, Pagenaud also vaulted into the series championship lead by a single point over teammate Josef Newgarden.

Rossi, the 2016 Indy 500 winner as a rookie, overcame two lengthy pit stops for refueling issues, charging back from mid-pack to contend for the win. The Andretti Autosport driver was in first place on the final race restart on Lap 187, following an incident involving six cars that included an 18-minute red-flag stoppage, but Pagenaud bolted ahead by the time they’d reached the iconic yard of bricks at the start/finish line to complete the lap.

The duo exchanged the lead twice on Lap 189 before Rossi swept back in front on Lap 198 heading into Turn 1. On the ensuing lap, Pagenaud made a similar outside pass, this time going into Turn 3, to take the lead for good. Rossi attempted several overtakes over the last one-plus laps but was thwarted each time. Still, his second-place finish marked the Californian’s fourth top-seven Indy 500 result in as many tries.

“We were flat in that final lap coming to the flag – we just didn’t have enough,” Rossi said. “You can’t take anything away from the (No.) 22 guys. They were on pole, they led a lot of laps, did a good job and had a fast race car. 

“I think the NAPA car was superior if you look at what we were able to do in traffic. I don’t think anyone else was doing that. It’s really disappointing. I thought there was a period of time there where we were going to get the win.”

Takuma Sato, the 2017 Indy 500 winner, recovered from pit-stop issues of his own, going down a lap early before recovering to finish third in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. It was just his second top-10 finish in his 10th Indianapolis 500.

“My race, (at) one stage it looked really tough,” Sato said. “We got some little issues after the first pit stop, so we had to come back.

“I think it’s still great result to the team, especially considering we were a lap down in 31st. I think it was great.”

Newgarden placed fourth in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Nitro Plus Team Penske Chevrolet, his fifth top-four finish in six races this season. Power finished fifth in his effort to become the first back-to-back Indianapolis 500 winner since Helio Castroneves in 2001-02.

Santino Ferrucci was the highest-finishing rookie, taking seventh place in the No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.

The race featured 29 lead changes among 10 drivers. Pagenaud led 116 laps – the most in the race since Dario Franchitti led 155 laps in his 2010 win – in becoming the first Indy 500 pole sitter to go on and win since Castroneves in 2009.

There were five caution periods for 29 laps, including the Lap 178 incident involving Sebastien Bourdais, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Felix Rosenqvist, Charlie Kimball and Zach Veach. It began when the cars of Bourdais and Rahal made contact in Turn 3, with the others collected in the aftermath. All the drivers were checked and released from the IU Health Emergency Medical Center at the track, though Veach will undergo further examination for soreness in his right knee. The race was red-flagged for 18 minutes to allow the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team and track workers to clean the debris.

Crewman Chris Minot was taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital for further evaluation of a leg injury after he was struck in a pit-lane incident involving his driver, Jordan King, in the No. 42 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. 

The NTT IndyCar Series returns to action May 31-June 2 with the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, the only doubleheader weekend on the 2019 schedule. The races airs live on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network at 3 p.m. ET both Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2.

Courtesy of the NTT IndyCar Series

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