Hamilton Southeastern, Westfield Reach Semis in 4A Sectional 8





By Pete Cava

PBR Indiana Correspondent

It'll be Fishers taking on Noblesville and Hamilton Southeastern vs. Westfield in the semifinals of the Class 4A Sectional #8 Monday at Noblesville. 

In Thursday's doubleheader at Dunker Field, Hamilton SE advanced with a  2-0 win over Zionsville while Westfield pummeled North Central 13-3 in the second contest. 

On Wednesday, Fishers beat Carmel 7-4 while host Noblesville had a bye. 

Noblesville and Fishers meet at 10:00 a.m. Monday, while the Westfield Hamilton SE game is set for 12:30 p.m. 

The winners square off for the Sectional 8 title at 7:30 p.m. 

HAMILTON SOUTHEASTERN 2, ZIONSVILLE 0

Royals right-handers Bryan Roberts and Brendan Burns combined on a six-hitter as the Royals blanked the Eagles in the lid-lifter. 

“The guys came to play,” said HSE coach Scott Henson. “We had a plan going in, and the guys executed it real well.  We were expecting to see (Grant) Sloan, and then we saw (Ben) Kocher. Kocher and Sloan pitch kind of the same way. We went into it, looked to sit on fastballs, and really just executed to get the runs we needed. We knew we'd get good pitching out of Bryan Roberts, and we had Brendan Burns in the pen.” 

Roberts started for HSE and survived a first-inning jam when Zionsville (16-13) had a runner on third with one out. Travis Tokarek opened the game with a base hit, and Nathan Valle pinch-ran for the Eagles catcher. With one out and Glen Collier at bat, a pickoff attempt by Roberts was wild and Valle took third on the error. Roberts got out of the dilemma by fanning Collier and Grant Sloan. 

Hamilton SE (12-16) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Burns drew a one-out walk and went to second when Kocher, who started for Zionsville, drilled designated hitter Jack Casey. Kocher got Carter Poiry on a called third strike, but Erik DeWael followed with a base hit to center that plated Burns. 

Kocher gave way to left-hander Kellan Elsbury in the third, when HSE put another run on the board.  Gantt and Gorski opened with back-to-back singles. Elsbury whiffed Aaron McGee, but Gantt scored from second on Alex Woodcock's single to left. 

Zionsville coach Jered Moore said the decision to pull Kocher was made before the game. “We had only planned to throw him three innings at most,” Moore said. “We were looking at (the semifinals) Monday, if we got there. In that situation, we pre-determined we were going to have either Ben or Grant (Sloan). Neither one had been extended lately, so we were going to have them throw three or four innings, anyway.” 

Robert Wagner replaced Elsbury, and the right-hander fanned Casey for the second out. With a 1-1 count on Poiry, Wagner's next pitch got past Tokarek. But the Zionsville backstop quickly corralled the ball and threw to Wagner, who slapped a tag on Gorski at the plate to end the inning. 

Roberts' night ended in the top of the sixth, after consecutive singles by Evan Miiller and Jack Pilcher gave Zionsville runners at first and second. Burns moved from right field to the mound and ended the threat by striking out the next two batters. 

“I was just trying to throw strikes out there, and do the best I can,” said Roberts, who relied on a cut fastball. “I was really going to the cutter a lot – first pitch, and to strike guys out.” 

Roberts logged five strikeouts on the night, while Burns fanned three in one and two-thirds scoreless innings. 

Sloan, the fourth Eagles pitcher, threw three shutout innings and allowed one hit. 

Erik DeWael was brilliant on defense for HSE. The senior third sacker turned in web gems in the fourth and fifth innings to stave off runs. 

Coach Henson will hold off on choosing his starting pitcher for Monday's semifinal. “We have four days rest,” said Henson. “We have practice Saturday, and I'll talk to both of them (Roberts and Burns) and see who feels best. It could be Burns, it could be Roberts. I'm not sure.” 

Zionsville's Moore hopes to add more punch to a strong Eagles pitching staff next year. “We have a lot of young guys,” he said, “and the core of our pitchers is coming back. Now we just have to have some offense to go with it.” 

The contest, played under mostly sunny skies, took one hour and 50 minutes. 

WESTFIELD 13, NORTH CENTRAL 3

In the second contest, Westfield batted around in the bottom of the first. When the inning was over, North Central's chances for extending its season were in jeopardy. 

Jake Dietz started the onslaught for the Shamrocks with a leadoff double. After a base on balls to Alec Nelson, Bailey Partlow slammed a 1-0 delivery over the wall in left center. “I think it was a fastball, right down the middle” said Partlow, who wound up with four runs batted in. “He left it up over the plate and I got a good piece of it.” 

Cole McCrary followed with a base hit, and went to second when Panthers starter Alan Lozer grazed Nick Ferrer's left arm.  Lozer struck out the next batter, but Jackson Freed smacked a ground rule double to left that plated Ferrer and gave the Shamrocks a 5-0 lead. 

Lozer gave way to sophomore George Henss, who quelled the uprising by picking off Freed and retiring Milo Beam on a fly ball. 

The Panthers (12-15) made it 5-1 in the top of the second. Lozer, who remained in the game at second base, singled and took third on Lance Howard's double, and then scored on Roman Baisa's base hit. 

The Shamrocks (16-11) got the run back in the bottom of the frame. Jake Dietz singled, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and came in on Partlow's sacrifice fly. 

Jacob Robinson, who started the game as Westfield's designated hitter, relieved Luke Dietz in the third. Brian Butchee greeted the junior right-hander with a double – his second of the night – and went to third on a wild pitch. Josh Matthews' infield single scored Butchee for a 6-2 score. 

Westfield made it 7-2 in the fifth when Robinson reached second on a throwing error and scored on Nelson's two-out single. 

Phil McIntyre's scrappy Panthers added another run in the sixth. Alex Snider greeted Jake Dietz – the third Shamrocks pitcher – with a two-base hit. A wild pitch and a walk to Matthews put runners at the corners, and when Lozer ripped a single to left, NC cut the deficit to 7-3. 

The game ended on the mercy rule in the bottom of the sixth when the Rocks scored six runs off Henss and two more Panthers relievers, Devon Williams and Allbry Major. Westfield did it without a hit, benefiting from a pair of errors, four wild pitches, four walks, and a hit batsman. 

The game lasted two hours, ten minutes. 

“Getting five in the first was big,” said Westfield skipper Ryan Bunnell. “When you get three runs after the first three at-bats, it takes a little bit of the edge off. 

”We came in knowing that we wanted to try and split the game between our three guys (Luke Dietz, Robinson and Jake Dietz),” he added, “and we wanted to keep our pitch count down, so we could come back on three days rest. We wanted everybody fresh for Monday. When you do that, you're gambling a little bit.  But we feel like our top three guys are good, so we didn't think it was a big gamble.” 

Bunnell plans to go with Luke Dietz Monday against Hamilton SE, and will start either Jake Dietz or Robinson if the Rocks advance to the championship game.

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