From one “senior moment” to another, the baseball semifinals are set for Monday’s IHSAA Class 2A Sectional 41.
Several pitches were fouled off by Eastern Hancock’s No. 3 hitter; the tying run slowly made its way around the bases and was just 90 feet away.
Eli Callahan finally caught Cole Fout looking for a strike three call, sending Centerville to a 3-2 victory and on to Monday’s IHSAA Class 2A Sectional 41 baseball semifinals at Centerville.
“The Fout kid is just an awesome hitter,” Centerville coach Tracey Crull said after a long, exciting Thursday of baseball finally came to an end. “I went out there and talked to Eli and said, ‘Hey, what do you think, you want to put him on, you want to pitch to him?’ He said, ‘Coach, let me pitch to him.’ I said, ‘You’re the senior,’ and he took care of it. That’s what seniors do. It’s a senior moment, and our seniors stepped up and had just a senior performance.”
Another senior moment sent the reigning-champion Hagerstown Tigers to a second straight title game.
Hagerstown senior Bryan Mathews completed a comeback in Thursday’s first game, blasting a walk-off home run to help the Tigers defeat arch-rival Union County 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh.
Mathews also earned the victory on the mound, striking out four after an early 4-0 deficit.
“We knew (Union County pitcher Gehrig) Shepler’s going to throw a lot of curveballs and we just had to stay on it and get the fastball when we had a chance,” Hagerstown coach Brad Catey said was the key to the comeback. ” … We just had big guys come up in big moments, and they never had any quit.”
Northeastern plays Knightstown at 10 a.m. Monday, while Hagerstown and Centerville square off at 1 p.m.
The championship game is scheduled for 8 that night.
The Tigers are the reigning champions, while Centerville’s last sectional title came in 2011, Northeastern’s in 2004 and Knightstown’s in 1981.
In regular-season meetings, Northeastern outlasted Knightstown 11-10 and Hagerstown beat Centerville 7-5.
“This is the closest sectional field I’ve been a part of, and anybody in this field can win this sectional,” Crull said. “I think you saw, just from the ballgames (Thursday). If you want to see some good baseball, come out here Monday.”
Northeastern and Hagerstown are this year’s co-Tri-Eastern Conference champions, while Northeastern owns two victories over the Tigers, both 4-0 and both of which ended long streaks for Hagerstown.
The first ended a 17-game winning streak against TEC opponents. The second ended Hagerstown’s three-year reign as Wayne County tournament champion.
Northeastern and Centerville have gone to extra innings twice this year, with Northeastern winning the TEC meeting 4-2 in eight innings and winning 8-7 in a nine-inning county meeting.
Hagerstown has eight sectional titles, the most among teams in the field, while Centerville has seven, Union County six, Northeastern four, Knightstown three, Lincoln two and Eastern Hancock one.
The Panthers drew the bye and Northeastern defeated Lincoln 13-3 in Wednesday’s opening round.
“That’s what we’ve been working for all year,” said Callahan, who was a freshman the last time Centerville won a sectional. “That’s what we’ve been working for since that sectional title, so it’d mean the world.
” … We’re looking forward to it.”