4A Sectional 8 North Central 8, Fishers 1: Healthy Lozer Tames Tigers





By Pete Cava

PBR Indiana Correspondent

ZIONSVILLE – North Central endured three weather-related delays before defeating Fishers 8-1 Wednesday night in the Class 4A Sectional 8 opener at Zionsville High School.

Mac Lozer started for the Panthers (20-7) and proved emphatically that he’s over the elbow tendinitis that dogged him earlier this year.  The University of Michigan-bound right-hander earned the win, striking out seven over six and one-third innings while giving up one walk and scattering five hits.

The contest, delayed for one-hour and 49 minutes due to wet grounds, was interrupted twice by lightning in the bottom of the fifth inning. 

“We just had to wait and see if the lightning would go away,” said North Central coach Phil McIntyre.  “Mac threw wonderful tonight, bless his heart.  I’m so proud of him.  What we really needed to do is make sure we kept him warm.  Like any pitcher, you sit too long, you stiffen up.”

“It was tough,” admitted Lozer.  “You just had to make sure that you’re warm all the time. I had a heat pad on me.  When they said we could go back out, I just went out to the bullpen and got warm again.”

After Lozer set down Fishers (14-17) on eight pitches in the top of the first, North Central’s bats went to work in the bottom of the frame.  Roman Baisa led off with a single to center. When Andrew Riley followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt, Fishers starter Brandon Yoho pounced on the ball to start a 1-6-3 double play. 

Lozer followed with a single and the next batter, cleanup hitter Gui Earlywine, slammed a 1-1 fastball over the left field fence. 

North Central added two more runs in the second, aided by a pair of Tigers miscues.  Demetrius Webb opened with a bunt single and took second on a wild throw by third baseman Cole Dalton.  After a walk to Jacob Zeller, Fishers coach Matt Cherry brought Nathaniel Rhodes in to pitch and reassigned Yoho to first base.  

Keaton Connor greeted Rhodes with a sac bunt.  Yoho fielded the ball and tried to gun down Webb at third.  But Yoho's throw was wild, and Webb pranced home.  Zeller moved to third on the play and scored on a single by Baisa that extended North Central's lead to 4-0.

The Panthers scored three times in the fifth inning, which looked like it might last longer than a Tolstoy novel.  Lozer led off with a base hit, and Anthony Williams pinch-ran for him.  Earlywine took a breaking pitch off his batting helmet to put runners at first and second.  When Rhodes’ pickoff attempt at first went awry, the speedy Williams raced home and Earlywine moved to third.   Justin Short was hit by a pitch and Jensen Kirch drew an intentional walk. 

As Webb stepped up to the plate with the bases full, lightning flashed in the distance and the umpires waved the players off the field.  Play resumed after a 41-minute hiatus, and Webb bunted home Earlywine to make it 6-0. 

With bases still loaded, Rhodes fanned Zeller and Keaton Conner.  But another streak of lightning cleared the field, this time for 16 minutes.  When the contest re-started, Baisa singled to short to bring in Sam Miller, who was running for Short.

Colin Scher took the mound for Fishers in the sixth, when North Central scored its final run.  Lozer was nicked by a pitch and took second on an infield out.  Short roped a hit to right that sent Lozer to third.  When Kirch blooped a single to center, Lozer strolled home to make it 8-0. 

The Tigers got on the board in the seventh on doubles by Ben Abney and Cory Reed.  That closed the book on Lozer, who left the mound to a standing ovation from the North Central faithful.  Kirch moved over from short and got the next two batters to end the two-hour, 48 minute contest.  “Jensen’s a great pitcher,” said Lozer.  “I’m glad it was him who closed it out.” 

Baisa went 3-for-4 for North Central, while Lozer, Short and Kirch chipped in with two hits apiece.  “He’s a keeper,” McIntyre said of Baisa, the junior center fielder.  “He had a great game.  I’m glad I have one more year with him”. 

Sectional 8 play continues Thursday at Zionsville with a doubleheader.  Hamilton Southeastern meets Westfield at 5:30 p.m. followed by Zionsville versus Carmel.

Semifinals and the championship tilt take place Monday.

Notes:  “I had to handle some adversity,” said Lozer, who was pitching for only the third time since coming back from elbow problems.  In 14-plus innings over those three appearances (against Evansville North, Decatur Central and Fishers) he now has 23 strikeouts. 

NC skipper McIntyre praised host Zionsville’s efforts to get the field in shape.  “I know everybody wanted this game to get played,” he said, “because it would have changed the whole schedule.” 

With North Central’s commencement exercises scheduled for Thursday, a Wednesday cancellation would have moved the NC-Fishers game to Friday, with Thursday’s contests rescheduled for Saturday. 

“Give Zionsville credit for getting this game in tonight,” McIntyre added.  “They worked their butts off to get this game in.”  

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