Pioneers' walk-off bunt the difference in first championship appearance
INDIANAPOLIS — The Providence High School baseball team used one of its favorite plays — the suicide squeeze — to claim its first-ever state championship in a 7-6 win over top-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic Saturday at Victory Field.
With the bases loaded, senior Jay Lorenz placed a perfect bunt on a 2-1 count and fellow senior, Jake Katchur, raced home as the winning run.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Lorenz said. “We work on bunting in every practice. I was just too excited running down to first base.”
As Katchur scored, the entire team mobbed him at the plate in a long-awaited dog pile.
“I had the confidence in Jay (Lorenz) to get that bunt down,” Katchur said. “No matter what, I was going to score. Dog piles are rough but they’re worth it. This is the last game of my life, and I couldn’t ask to go out in a better way.”
The Pioneers (27-3) won their first appearance in a state title game. LCC (33-2), a seven-time state champion in Class A, finished second for the second straight year.
“It’s like the best day I’ve had in a long, long time because I get to share it with the best kids in the whole wide world,” said Providence coach Scott Hornung. “It’s just a pleasure to spend time with them and coach them.”
Hornung said the Pioneers didn’t use the squeeze much during the regular season but employed it at the sectional, regional and semi-state.
“It’s something I had in my head on the bus ride up here,” he said. “I love to make the call, but you have to have the right people in the right situation. … I had a great bunter up and a great base runner.”
In a game of swings, the Pioneers let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers in the bottom of the first inning as Bret Aria drew a walk to start and Jake Lewis singled to center field.
After a wild pitch by LCC’s Jackson Anthrop, the Pioneers had runners at second and third.
Then Tim Borden popped out to third and Tre Watson flew out to short right. Aria tried to steal on Watson’s out but was gunned down at the plate.
The Pioneers shook it off and scored the game’s first run as Parker Graf led off with a double to the left-field corner, stole third base and scored on a two-out infield single by Lorenz.
The first four batters reached for the Knights in the top of the fourth on a double, two singles and an error by Graf, who booted a dribbler to second. Luke Schrader, who led off the inning with a double down the left-field line, scored on Graf’s error. Then Coy Cronk singled in Anthony Bergen. On the Cronk single, Lorenz threw past third and Lovell scored giving LCC a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Pioneers came up with their own outburst.
With one out, Joe Wilkinson drew a walk and then Lorenz and Juston Betz reached on infield hits to load the bases. At the top of the lineup, Aria drew a walk and then Lewis ripped a stand-up triple to the wall in center field, scoring three runs.
With Lewis at third base, the Pioneers scored their fifth run of the inning as Borden placed a suicide squeeze bunt.
“Those runs are just too precious at third base,” Hornung said.
The Knights came back with three runs in the top of the sixth inning as Providence walked three. After LCC’s Berumen drew a walk to force home a run, Lovell hit a grounder to second.
Providence got the force at second base but the throw to first went past the bag and two runs scored for the Knights as Tyler Powers and Schrader crossed the plate.
NOTE: Providence’s Watson won the Mental Attitude Award.