It was evident from the first inning that there was a lot on the line Friday night for Central Catholic’s second-ranked Class A baseball team.
With No. 1 Frontier having lost to Delphi on Wednesday, and with Delphi in a position to share the Hoosier Conference championship with CC if the Knights lost at West Lafayette, the four-time reigning state champions created no drama in an 8-1 victory against the Red Devils at Bob Friend Field.
First baseman Ryan DeBoy was 3-for-3 with three RBIs, third baseman Andrew Hubertz was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI and shortstop Jake Churchill was 3-for-5 with a pair of runs. Churchill also pitched five shutout innings in relief of starter Lucas Richardson.
The Knights (22-5) finished 11-1 in Hoosier Conference action, winning the league title for a second consecutive season after sharing it with West Lafayette in 2012. Delphi finished second at 10-2, including Friday night’s 5-1 victory against Rensselaer.
When the new Class A poll is released this week, CC likely will be No. 1 as it begins its quest for a fifth consecutive state championship. The Knights took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first against WL starter and loser Brian Bangs, then broke this one open with a three-run third and a three-run fifth. The Red Devils (11-9) finish 8-4 in the conference.
“We talked that we had four conference games this week, and our goal was to get better each game,” Churchill said. “Tonight, we executed and everyone did their job. We ran the bases extremely well, and everyone fielded the ball well. It all came together for us this week.”
Churchill (2-0) allowed only two hits and walked one.
“This is my first year pitching in a long time,” Churchill said. “Our pitching coach told me to get in there and throw strikes. I’m not going to strike out a bunch of people. I have so much confidence in my defense to make plays.”
DeBoy’s two-run double in the third helped stake CC to a 4-1 lead, and his run-scoring single in the fifth broke the game open.
“Coach has talked for the past couple of weeks that we have a lot of championships in front of us,” DeBoy said. “Tonight was the next one on the list. Right now, being No. 1 doesn’t matter. It just matters when we play (Frontier) and whoever comes out on top.”
CC coach Tim Bordenet liked the way DeBoy and Churchill played Friday night.
“The best motivation we have is that our guys are feeling confident right now,” Bordenet said. “We’re swinging the bats well, and our pitchers are doing a nice job. We also have been playing great defense. It’s all coming together at the right time.”
WL coach Joel Strode said it’s easy to understand why CC wins.
“The big thing whenever you play them is that they know how to win,” Strode said. “If you make a mistake, they make you pay for it.”