Penn Takes Key Conference Game From Previously-Unbeaten South Bend St. Joseph



By Steve Krah

PBR Indiana Correspondent 

MISHAWAKA — Penn handed South Bend St. Joseph its first loss of the 2017 high school baseball season Friday, May 12 in Northern Indiana Conference game. 

The Class 4A No. 20-ranked Kingsmen topped the Class 3A No. 9 Indians 9-6 at Jordan Automotive Field. Penn improved to 17-6 overall and 11-0 in the NIC while visiting St. Joe fell to 16-1 and 9-1.  

With one league game remaining (Monday, May 15 at Mishawaka), the Kingsmen clinched at least a share of conference title. The Indians have two NIC games left — vs. South Bend Washington Monday and at Jimtown Tuesday, May 16

Senior Matt Kominkiewicz drove in three runs with three hits and scored two runs from the No. 2 slot in the Penn lineup Friday. 

“He’s a tough out,” Kingsmen coach Greg Dikos said of the left-handed swinger. “He knows his limitations. When he stays within himself and gets two strikes, he becomes even more dangerous. All he wants to do is put the ball in-play. That’s what makes him so valuable. 

“He has long at-bats and makes the pitcher work.” 

Kingsmen sophomore left-hander Kameron Koch (7 innings, 6 runs, 8 hits, 4 strikeouts, 1 intentional walk) earned the mound victory to move to 4-1. 

“He made a lot of good pitches,” Kominkiewicz said of Koch. “He made kids battle. We knew we had to play great defense behind us and we had the bats.” 

Kominkiewicz notes that many of Penn’s seniors have been playing together for a decade — first with the Granger Cubs travel organization and then the Kingsmen. 

Penn scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning. 

Waite smacked a lead-off single to right field and scored the first run on infield errors on separate plays. 

Kominkiewicz reached base on the first of those fielding miscues, moved to third base on the other one and scored on junior Payton Kerr’s groundout to shortstop. 

The Kingsmen added three more unearned runs in the second frame. 

With two outs, junior Nathan Vargo reached base on by error, stole second base and scored on senior Trevor Waite’s double to left field. 

Kominkiewicz’s single to left to plate Waite, moved to second base on a throwing error on the same play and scored on an infield single to first base by senior Niko Kavadas. 

“We all know when you give Penn that many free bases, they’ll take advantage of it,” St. Joseph coach John Gumpf said. 

But the Indians also did not panic. 

“I wasn’t worried when we were down five,” Gumpf said. “We’ve been down before. Our guys have fought all year and they’ll continue to fight.” 

In the top of the third inning, St. Joseph scored five unearned runs — all with two outs — to forge a 5-5 tie. 

A three-run outfield error on a ball struck by senior Tyler Kleva allowed sophomore Patrick Farrisee (single to left), junior Hunter West (fielder’s choice) and senior Tony Carmola (intentional walk) to score. 

Kleva trotted home when junior Luke Houin socked an 0-1 Koch pitch over the left field fence. 

“That sometimes happens in a game,” Kominkiewicz said. “You’ve got to shake that off and not let it get to your head. You’ve just got to play.” 

Penn took a 6-5 lead in the fourth inning. 

Senior Ryan Lau drew a lead-off walk and stole second base. Two strikeouts later, Kominkiewicz turned an 0-2 pitch into an RBI single to center, plating Lau. 

The Kingsmen lead swelled to 9-5 with a two-run home run by Lynch and two-out infield single by Kominkiewicz in the fifth inning.  

A one-out single to center by Kerr was followed by freshman Ryan Lynch’s blast to left-center off a 1-1 delivery from junior left-hander Michael Dunkelberger. 

Lau singled and later scored from third base on Kominkiewicz’s hit. The inning was kept alive when Waite beat out an infield single to load the bases. 

The Indians scored one run in the top of the sixth to cut the gap to 9-6. 

Haley lashed a one-out single right field. Junior pinch runner Jacob Pipp moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single to center by junior Kerry Zeese. 

Sophomore right-hander Joe Rotkis (1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 strikeout, 0 walks) replaced Dunkelberger (5 innings, 9 runs, 11 hits, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk) on the mound for St. Joe and coaxed an inning-ending double play — second baseman West to shortstop Carmola to first baseman J.R. Haley — in the sixth. 

Kavadas played his second game of the season at shortstop for the Kingsmen. 

“I know it’s late in the seasons to be still figuring it out,” Dikos said. “We’re trying to find our best defense. 

St. Joseph plays Saturday, May 13 against Fort Wayne Dwenger at Huntington University. 

UPCOMING EVENTS

SHOWCASE STATE DATE LOCATION
All-State Prospect I.D IN Jun 6 Grand Park - Westfield, IN
2017 Top Prospect Games IN Jun 13 Indiana University - Bloomington, IN
Summer Prospect Games IN Jun 20 Grand Park - Westfield, IN
Free Future Prospect Camp IN Jun 27 Grand Park - Westfield, IN
Mid-Summer Open, Ft. Wayne IN Jul 11 Carroll High School - Fort Wayne, IN
PBR ProCase - Midwest IN Jul 11 Silver Cross Field - Joliet, IL
Mid-Summer Open, Region IN Jul 18 Hobart High School
Prospect Games at Notre Dame IN Jul 25 University of Notre Dame - Notre Dame, IN
2017 PBR Future Games (Indiana Invite Only) IN Aug 2 Grand Park - Westfield, IN
GPA Games IN Aug 13 Lee Pfund Stadium - Carol Stream, IL