Prep Baseball Report

No. 7 Kingsmen Bust Loose to Take 'Border War' Game from Colonials

By Steve Krah

PBR Indiana Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — This “border” battle goes to Penn.

A “Border Wars” traveling trophy was created in 2016 to be presented to the winner of the high school baseball clash between neighbors and Northern Indiana Conference rivals.

Penn (10-3, 6-0) beat South Bend Clay 14-2 in five innings Monday, April 25 at Clay Field to earn the right to take the prize back to its campus.

The host Colonials, which were coming off 11-1 and 35-0 wins against Gary West Side Saturday, April 23, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning against the Kingsmen as senior Keiji Parkhurst socked a 1-1 pitch from right-hander Niko Kavadas to left-center field for a two-run home run.

The homer — the first of the season for Clay (6-2, 3-2) — also drove  in junior Michael Payne (on base by error).

The Kingsmen, coming off 4-0 and 3-0 losses at Lake Central Saturday, were held off the scoreboard for the first three innings by Colonials senior left-hander Nic Conner (3 1/3 innings, 7 runs, 9 hits, 3 strikeouts, 0 walks) before busting loose in the top of the fourth.

“We had runners in scoring position in the first and second innings and he struck out our No. 3 and 4 hitters (Kavadas and Metcalf) to get out of the first,” Penn coach Greg Dikos, who also saw his team strand two runners in the second. “We finally got to him. We were taking way too many fastballs and we just started getting a little more aggressive at the plate.”

The Kingsmen sent 17 batters to the plate while scoring 11 runs and piling up 10 hits — two each by senior Brandon Stesiak (home run, RBI double), junior Nolan Metcalf (double, single) and senior Ryan Herman (two singles, the first for a pair of RBI).

“They shellshocked us,” Clay coach Joel Reinebold said. “This is a veteran team and it shouldn’t have happened.”

Stesiak’s dinger came off senior right-hander Colin Greve, who spelled Conner (who transferred from Penn to Clay). 

In addition, the Kingsmen saw RBI doubles ring off the bats of senior Skylar Szynski and senior Luke Schneider in the fourth while junior Matt Kominkiewicz contributed a single and sacrifice fly and junior Niko Kavadas an RBI single.

Penn won by the 10-run rule with three more tallies in the fifth inning. 

Kavadas belted a solo homer and Stesiak a two-run shot — both off senior right-handed knuckleballer Jacob Downs. Both now have a pair of roundtrips on the season. 

A two-homer day would have also been enjoyed by Kavadas Monday, but a balk was called and a ball he belted over the fence in the fourth was not allowed.

The Kingsmen’s 16th hit — a single — was credited to senior Bobby Haluska.

Kavadas (5 innings, 3 runs, 4 hits, 5 strikeouts, 2 walks) was the winning pitcher. Parkhurst also had a single in the third inning. Clay’s other hits were credited to senior Carlos Oritz (second-inning single) Greve (fourth-inning single).

“He had a nice cutter. It drops off the table,” Dikos said of Kavadas. “It is a nasty pitch when he’s throwing it for a strike.”

Turning a double play behind Kavadas to end the Clay third were third baseman Herman to second baseman Kominkiewicz and junior first baseman Ryan Lau.

“We have four more games this week,” Reinebold said. “We’ll see what kind of competitors we have. “

Clay is scheduled to play at Washington Township 6 p.m. (EST) Tuesday, April 26. In a schedule change, South Bend Washington plays at Penn at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 28.