The New Palestine baseball team clinched its 11th Hoosier Heritage Conference championship Friday, beating Pendleton Heights 8-1 in the second game of their doubleheader.
In the first game, a furious late-inning Dragon rally fell short in a 9-7 loss.
The victory, coupled with New Castle’s doubleheader split against Shelbyville, gave the Dragons the outright HHC championship. NP is now 11-1 in conference play with two games left, while second-place New Castle is 8-4. The two teams meet next Friday at NPHS.
The Dragons are now 19-4 overall and snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory.
In the second game, Dragon pitchers threw a gem, striking out 17 batters and allowing just three hits.
Starter Jack Walker (6-0) fanned 14 in five innings – allowing only four balls to be put into play. He allowed three hits and one earned run. Cameron Pitzer pitched two hitless innings to record his third save.
The Dragons and Arabians each traded runs in the first inning. NP jumped ahead with single runs in the third and fifth before breaking it open with five runs on two hits in the seventh, doing its damage with seven hits against four Arabian pitchers. The Dragons scored their eight runs on seven hits and five walks.
Walker also led the Dragons offensively, going 2-for-3 with two doubles and three RBI. Colby Jenkins and Nick Rusche each had two hits, two runs and an RBI. Myles Kost had a single and a run.
The Dragons dropped the opener 9-7 despite a late rally, suffering their first conference loss. PH used a five-run fourth inning to jump ahead 9-1 in the opener. The Arabians had single runs in the first and fifth and two in the second. NP answered with a five-run fifth and scored a run in the seventh, but the rally fell short.
Brendan Tabor and Rusche both had two hits and two RBI. Tabor hit one of the Dragons’ four doubles, while Rusche hit a triple. Walker had a single, a double and a run. Myles Kost had two hits, including a double, and an RBI. Luke Greene hit a two-run double. Jacob Bain and Grant Wiegand also had two hits each.
Cameron Espich (4-1) struck out six over three innings, but took the loss, surrendering 10 hits. Jaden Jaques scattered four hits and allowed one unearned run in the final four innings. PH outhit the Dragons 14-13.
The conference championship is the 11th the Dragons have won in the Hoosier Heritage Conference. NP won nine straight titles from 2004-12 – six outright. NP has since won titles in 2016 and now 2018.
NP is next in action Wednesday at home against Roncalli, with the first pitch slated for 5 p.m.