Brent Hawn’s skill set has established the Delphi sophomore as one of the most talented high school players in the Lafayette area.
However, it was the shortstop/relief pitcher’s understanding of situational baseball that pushed the sixth-ranked Oracles into the Class 2A Wabash Regional championship game.
With Delphi leading Alexandria 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth Monday night at Chris Rood Field, the Tigers (19-13) had runners at second and third with one out and right fielder Cory Allen at the plate. Allen hit a routine grounder to short, but instead of making a risky throw to the plate and potentially creating a big inning, Hawn calmly threw Allen out at first base and allowed the tying run to cross the plate.
Oracle starting and winning pitcher Jason Sterrett struck out the No. 9 hitter to retire the side, and Delphi scored the winning run in the top of the seventh in a 4-3 victory. The Oracles (23-6) now will play reigning Class 2A state champion Northfield (27-3) in Tuesday’s 7 p.m. title game.
Northfield defeated Lapel 8-5 in Monday night’s other semifinal.
“I’ve been playing baseball since I was 6,” Hawn said of his heady play at shortstop. “I was always taught that way. If you don’t get a good read on that ball, and you see the runner breaking for the plate and know you don’t have a chance to get him, you go ahead and get the sure out at first.
“You don’t want to give up extra runs. You have to limit the damage there and not give up two runs, which would have put us down going into the last inning.”
Hawn replaced Sterrett (8-1) on the mound for the bottom of the seventh and retired the Tigers in order with a pair of strikeouts and an easy grounder to short to earn his sixth save this season.
“That role is my favorite position to be in,” Hawn said of closing. “The adrenaline is pumping in that situation. My team always gets me ahead in the seventh. So, it’s my job to get it done. I love closing it out, as I have done all year.”
Delphi coach Kerry Yoder appreciates the knowledge with which Hawn plays baseball.
“That play in the sixth is huge,” Yoder said. “If Brent doesn’t get an out there, and they score a run, the momentum really gets going for them. In a situation like that, you have to at least come away from it with an out. Brent did a nice job of recognizing that we weren’t going to get the runner at home. He made the adjustment, made the throw to first and got the out.
“Then, their next guy struck out. We came out of there with a tie ballgame. Both teams had tough pitchers on the mound, and each kept chipping away. Luckily, we came back and got a run in the seventh. In the bottom of the seventh, Brent is a kid that loves that situation. In crunch time, he wants the ball in his hand. Brent doesn’t get rattled. We did the little stuff tonight and made the plays when we had to make them.”
Delphi scored the winning run in the top of the seventh when pinch runner Mason Lane, another sophomore, knocked the ball out of catcher Braden Warren’s glove on a throw to the plate following Ricky Windell’s bloop single to right with one out. That pinned the loss on starter and loser Blaize Kelly (8-1), who entered with 75 strikeouts and a 0.67 earned run average.
“I knew it was going to be close when I took off,” Lane said of the play at the plate. “When I slid, I thought I was out. Then I saw the ball, and I touched home. It just trickled away out of his glove as he tagged me. It just fell out.
“When the ball left the bat, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be fair or foul, so I kind of hesitated. I took off once I realized it was fair. I just got it done.”
Windell and sophomore right fielder Garrett Bean each had two hits to pace the Delphi attack. Sterrett and Hawn combined to limit Alexandria to two hits, although Sterrett walked six.