New Palestine High School
Baseball walks off spot in sectional title game
By Andrew Smith | May 27, 2023 6:30 PM
With two outs in the seventh and nobody on base, it appeared the New Palestine baseball team would be headed for extra innings in its sectional semifinal game against Pendleton Heights.
But Nic Deering worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch, bringing slugger Wes Stiller to the plate. Stiller then drove a 1-0 pitch over the centerfielder's head. Deering scampered home from first base before the throw could come home, giving the Dragons a 1-0 victory over Pendleton Heights.
The Dragons advance to face host Mt. Vernon at noon Monday in the sectional championship game.
The game was a pitcher's duel throughout, as Michael Thorpe pitched a gem, allowing three hits and walking none in a complete-game victory. PH's Spencer Leppink pitched out of multiple jams to match Thorpe. Each pitcher allowed just three hits.
Before Stiller's game-winning hit, the Arabians had taken the bat out of his hands. He saw four pitches out of the strike zone in the first inning - being plunked by the fourth - and was issued intentional walks in his next two plate appearances with runners on and first base open.
After the walk to Deering, the Arabians did not want to put the winning run in scoring position, so Leppink had to pitch to Stiller, and he delivered.
The Dragons had multiple threats in the game. They left two runners on base in the first after a walk and a hit batter with two outs, left a runner in scoring position in the second and two more in the third after Blaine Nunnally delivered the Dragons' first hit of the game. After a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk to Stiller, the Arabians were able to get out of the threat with a doubleplay.
In the fifth inning, the Dragons loaded the bases on an infield single by Ben Morwick, who moved to second on a throwing error. With two outs, Stiller was intentionally walked and Jacob Morris reached on an error. But a flyout to left ended the threat. In the sixth, the Dragons had a runner on third with none out, but the runner was picked off.
The Dragons had baserunners in all seven innings.
Meanwhile, PH never had a runner pass second base. After surrendering a first-inning single, Thorpe retired eight straight Arabians. In the fourth, a hit batter was erased by a doubleplay. A two-out bloop double by Nate Gilmet marked PH's best threat of the day, but Thorpe got the next batter to fly out after a long at-bat. In the sixth, PH had a leadoff single, but Thorpe immediately picked off the runner and didn't allow a baserunner the rest of the game.
With the victory, the Dragons take a 21-9 record into the title game against MV (22-7). The Dragons will be seeking their second straight sectional championship and 18th overall.