The recent history of the Central Catholic-Delphi baseball rivalry follows two storylines.
Either the Knights win easily, or they rally in the seventh to stun the Oracles.
When Delphi routed Rensselaer 16-3 in Thursday’s first round of the Class 2A Central Catholic Sectional, it ensured one more shot at its nemesis. The third-ranked Knights earlier defeated North Judson 11-0 in five innings in the tournament opener at Leming Field.
“Definitely, as a senior, it’s extra motivation,” said Delphi pitcher and shortstop Brent Hawn, who will take the mound Saturday against the Knights. “We can beat them — we know we can. We’re good enough. We have the bats. We have the pitching.”
Defending sectional champion Central Catholic won its 17th straight sectional game on Thursday. The Knights, who have won six straight sectional titles including their previous tenure in Class A, expect a challenge.
“Brent’s a great pitcher and he’ll bring his best, and we’ve just got to be ready to play,” said CC junior Jackson Anthrop, who scored two runs, drove in two more and pitched two shutout innings Thursday. “He keeps his composure, it’s tough to get to him, and he has a really good breaking ball.”
Central Catholic swept the regular season series from the Oracles, winning 13-2 in Delphi on May 5 and 4-3 at Leming Field the next day. Despite out-hitting Delphi 11-5 in the second game, the Knights needed Ben Metzinger’s walk-off infield single in the seventh to win.
Those are too-familiar outcomes for the Oracles, who lost to CC 11-1 at home in last season’s sectional semifinals. The Knights had won 3-2 and 7-4 in the regular season. Both of those games were also decided in the seventh.
“Last game we played, we should have won in the bottom of the seventh,” said Delphi senior Mason Lane, who scattered six hits in Thursday’s complete-game victory. “We learned some things, and we’ve gotten better. It will be a good game.”
Central Catholic coach Tim Bordenet either Dylan Kiracofe, who has not faced Delphi, or Nat Wiercioch will start Saturday. Wiercioch allowed one earned run and struck out 12 in a complete-game victory over the Oracles in the second meeting.
Hawn was scheduled to pitch at CC this season, but came down with the flu.
“Every time he pitches, we get a pretty good game going,” said CC senior infielder Anthony Berumen, who drove in four runs on a 3-for-3 day. “It’s a battle. We’ve got to come out early with our bats.”
Delphi, which outscored Rensselaer 28-9 in two regular-season victories, stranded six runners in scoring position over Thursday’s first three innings. Meanwhile, the Bombers built a 3-1 lead.
But Rensselear committed two of its five errors in the fourth to let the Oracles take the lead. Delphi then sent 12 men to the plate in a seven-run fifth, highlighted by Adam Zink’s two-run double.
“We’re on a little winning grind right here, and no matter what’s happened, we’ve always found a way to come through,” said Hawn, whose grand slam in the seventh immediately preceded Blaine Walters’ solo home run. “The coaches delivered a message that has really connected to us.”
Central Catholic set up no such drama, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the first against North Judson. Jackson Anthrop and Luke Schrader had two-run singles in the inning. Berumen added a three-run double in the second inning.
Anthrop, Noah Richardson, Jack Hudson and Sam Milazzo combined on the truncated two-hit shutout.