Keegan Watson tied the game with a long solo homer in the sixth, then drove in the eventual winning run in the seventh to lead New Palestine to a 3-2 victory over Chatard in the semifinals of the Class 3A Chatard baseball sectional.
The Dragons (19-11) will face either Brebeuf or Guerin Catholic in Monday’s 5 p.m. sectional final at Chatard.
It took just two pitches for NP to take a 1-0 lead. Andy Edwards led off the game with a base hit to left, and then advanced to third when the ball skipped past the outfielder. On the next pitch, Wes McBride brought him home with an RBI groundout.
Zach Lovell cruised through the first four innings, allowing one Chatard baserunner – a second-inning walk. The Dragons had doubles from Braden Roberts in the fourth and Tyler Woodcock in the fifth, and also advanced Woodcock to third in the third inning, but couldn’t push across an insurance run.
In the fifth, Chatard took the lead on a one-out hit batter and a sacrifice bunt that induced a wild throw. With runners on second and third, Tyler Woodcock snared a line drive, but the next batter grounded up the middle for an infield hit. Two runs scored on the play when the ball was bobbled, putting the Trojans up 2-1 after five.
Watson made sure Chatard’s lead was short-lived, blasting the first pitch of the sixth inning over the wall in left-center for his second homer of the season, tying the game at 2-2. The Dragons nearly took the lead, loading the bases on a double by Evan Hickman, a single by Cody Chandler and an intentional walk to Lovell. With one out, Logan Gilvin hit an apparent sacrifice fly to left, but the runner was ruled out when the Trojans appealed the play at third and the umpires ruled he left the bag early, ending the inning.
Lovell seized momentum back for the Dragons, striking out the side in the sixth, and then NP seized the lead in the seventh. Woodcock led off with a sharp single to center. Edwards sacrificed him to second. McBride moved the runner to third with an infield hit, and Watson hit a sharp liner to right that was snared, but Woodcock tagged and slid through the catcher’s legs and touched home before he could apply the tag, giving the Dragons a 3-2 edge.
Lovell then induced a flyout, a popup to catcher Hickman, and a lineout to James Crumlin in left to end the game.
Lovell (4-4) pitched a gem, allowing two hits, no earned runs and striking out 10. He had five perfect innings. Nick Casey was strong on the mound for Chatard, scattering eight hits and two earned runs in seven innings.
The Dragons had eight hits. Edwards was 1-2 with a run and two sacrifices. Watson was 1-3 with a homer, two RBI and a sacrifice fly. Hickman was 1-4 with a double. Chandler was 1-3. Roberts was 1-3 with a double. Woodcock was 2-2 with a double, a run and a hit batter.
The Dragons will be seeking their 16th sectional championship on Monday, including their second straight and fourth in six years.