The New Palestine baseball team rallied from a two-run deficit to take the lead, but Cathedral was able to match it, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh to beat the Dragons 5-3 in the Class 4A Warren Central sectional championship game.
The twin rallies concluded a sectional in which both of the championship-game contestants had rallied from seventh-inning deficits in the semifinals to get to Monday’s title game.
The Dragons finish their season 22-7, having won the Hoosier Heritage Conference championship.
The Dragons rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the sixth. They had one hit through five innings, but Grant Wiegand ignited a rally with a one-out single. Nick Rusche walked to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. With two outs, Jack Walker and Jacob Garrison each hit two-strike pitches for singles to tie the game. A single by Cameron Pitzer loaded the bases.
After fouling off several pitches, Jacob Bain brought in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded walk. A grounder on a close play ended the inning to limit the threat, but the three-run, four-hit frame got the Dragons three outs from a sectional title.
Cathedral responded with three runs in the seventh. Jared Poland tied the game with a homer to left. An infield hit followed. After an errant pickoff allowed the go-ahead run to move to third. NP starter Jacob Garrison got the next two outs, including a strikeout. But he hit his IHSAA-mandated 120-pitch limit and had to be lifted. After a walk and a hit batter, Cathedral’s Mitch Bertrand followed with a two-run single on a 3-2 pitch to center to plate the eventual winning runs.
Wiegand again had a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, but a popout and a grounder to short ended the Dragons’ season.
Cathedral scored its five runs on 10 hits. The Dragons had six hits, with four coming in the three-run sixth. Wiegand and Pitzer had two hits each.
Garrison (6-1) battled through 6 2/3 innings, scattering eight hits and four runs. He struck out four, pitching around traffic much of the game. He induced a doubleplay to end the first scoreless after the Irish led off with back-to-back singles. In the third, he pitched around two walks. Cathedral got single runs in the fourth and fifth, with leadoff walks leading to RBI singles, but Garrison limited the scoring by stranding two each inning. After allowing the homer and the single, he induced back-to-back outs with the go-ahead run on third in the seventh before yielding to Pitzer.
The Dragons’ season ends with 22 wins, a conference championship and a school record-tying 16-game winning streak. NP was as high as No. 2 in the IHSBCA Class 4A poll, and finished the season at No. 7. NP graduates 10 seniors – Myles Kost, Ian Tolle, Tyler Swain, Cameron Espich, Dylan Casner, Tyler Young, Garrison, Rusche, Pitzer and Kyle Gardner. Kost (Trine), Rusche (Taylor), Garrison (Olney Central), Pitzer (Huntington) and Gardner (Anderson) have all signed to play college baseball.