Cathedral Claims City Title, Brebeuf Bags County Crown

Tue May 16, 2017

By Pete Cava

PBR Indiana Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS – Under sunny skies with a slight breeze and temperatures hovering around 80 degrees, the Indianapolis City and Marion County Baseball Championships took place Monday at Victory Field. 

Heritage Christian, ranked third in 1A/2A, took on undefeated 4A No. 2 Cathedral for the City title in the first contest.  In the County championship, it was 4A No. 11 Roncalli versus Brebeuf Jesuit. 

CITY CHAMPIONSHIP – CATHEDRAL 8, HERITAGE CHRISTIAN 3 

The Irish scored five times in the bottom of the sixth en route to their sixth consecutive City crown and the 23rd in school history. 

Senior left-hander Nick Eaton survived a rocky third inning and went the distance for Cathedral (21-0).  The Indiana University recruit struck out nine while allowing seven hits, four of them in the third frame. 

Heritage Christian (16-4) threatened in the top half of the second, loading the bases on a single by Joe Geiger, a walk to Quinn Cobb and Hayden Wynja's base hit to left.  Eaton worked out of the jam when Jadon Ambrose lined out to second baseman Tommy Kafka. 

Cathedral went up 2-0 in the bottom of the frame.  Kevin Flood drew a leadoff walk and when Eaton executed a sacrifice, Eagles starter Jordan Brehm mishandled the ball.  With runners at first and second, Jack Myers hit into a force at third.  Seth Link followed with a shot down the right field line that went for three bases. 

Brehm atoned for his miscue in the top of the third.  Heritage Christian filled the sacks with no outs on singles by Austin Flinn, M.J. Furnish and Austin Crouse, who beat out a bunt.  Brehm then sliced a shot to left-center for a two-base hit that plated two runs.   

Cathedral avoided further damage when Crouse was tagged out by catcher Charlie Gomez on a botched squeeze play and Eaton fanned the next two batters. 

The Irish loaded the bases again in their half of the fourth.  Eaton led off with a line single to right, Jack Myers was hit by a pitch and Evan Thies beat out a bunt.  With the Eagles infield drawn in, Seth grounded to shortstop Jadon Ambrose. Ambrose fired to home to force Ross Kirkpatrick, pinch-running for Eaton.  With the Heritage Christian infield returning to normal depth, Cathedral nine-hole hitter Mack Murphy singled sharply to right for a 3-2 Irish lead. 

Brehm's tour ended in the fifth when Jared Poland led off with a single and Kevin Flood was clipped by a pitch.  After the runners moved up on a balk, Brehm moved to right field and Drew Hilbert came in to pitch.  Hilbert quelled the threat by retiring the next three Cathedral hitters. 

Hilbert's luck ran out in the bottom of the sixth.  Seth Link opened the frame with a bunt single and stole second.  Two outs later, Charlie Gomez ripped a run-scoring single to left. After an intentional walk to Jared Poland, Kevin Flood's drive to center landed for a triple and Cathedral went up 6-2. 

Flood scored on Eaton’s double to the left-center field gap, and Jack Myers’ base hit sent Eaton to third.  That ended Hilbert's night, and junior right-hander Joey Butz came in from the pen. When Butz uncorked a wild pitch, Eaton rolled home for an 8-2 Irish lead. 

Heritage Christian picked up a run in the seventh on a pair of walks, a throwing error that put runners on second and third, and an RBI single by M.J. Furnish. 

After Brehm's third-inning double, Eaton settled down and retired 11 straight batters before giving up a leadoff walk in the seventh to Dakota Muth.  “I felt pretty good,” Eaton said.  “I think I kind of over-threw a little bit in the first few innings. But after that, I settled in and stayed within myself.” 

Eaton helped his own cause with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate.  Poland and Link also contributed two hits apiece. Furnish's 2-for 4 night paced Heritage Christian. 

Does Eaton like pitching at Victory Field?  “Oh, yeah,” replied the lanky 6-foot-3, 195-pounder.  ‘It’s the best.”  Does he hope to return in June for the IHSAA 4A title game?  “That's the plan,” he added. 

Both teams came to Victory Field fresh from wins on Saturday, when Cathedral pummeled Pike 14-2 and Heritage Christian edged Warren Central 7-6. 

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP – BREBEUF JESUIT 5, RONCALLI 0 

John Nierman, thwarted when a previous start at Victory Field was rained out earlier this season, returned Monday night to fire a two-hitter as the Braves (14-13) blanked the Rebels for the Marion County championship. 

Nierman, a senior southpaw, was pitching against Franklin Central on April 28 when a downpour in the second inning forced the cancellation of the Victory Field Classic high school doubleheader. 

Tonight he allowed two hits and three walks with five strikeouts.  “I was just excited for the opportunity,” said Nierman, who is committed to Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn.  “Coach S (Jeremy Sassanella) had us in a great place with our win against Lawrence North last Thursday and that put us in position to win tonight.” 

Nierman said he threw “A lot of fastballs, a lot of sliders.  I only threw one change.  First inning, left it high, and the kid got a single down the line and I didn’t throw any from there on.  But my fastball was really running tonight, really working. They just couldn't hit it, I guess.” 

Nierman walked Hayden Harper to open the contest and Nick Schnell’s one-out single gave Roncalli runners at the corners. Nierman worked out of the fix by getting the next batter to ground into a short-to-second to first double play. 

Colten Panaranto started for the Rebels (14-6-1).  The junior right-hander retired the first nine Brebeuf Jesuit batters before Cam Farren opened the fourth with a base hit.  Farren advanced on Jackson Williams' bunt sacrifice and scored on a single to right by Justin Hensley.  One out later, Bo Richey's base hit gave the Braves runners at first and second.  Panaranto fanned the next batter to end the inning. 

Brebeuf Jesuit added three runs in the top of the sixth.  Cam Farren led off with a single, but was caught stealing.  Panaranto struck out the next batter, but the Braves loaded the bases on a walk to Hensley, Jett McGowan's single and a catcher's interference call with Bo Richey at the plate.  Two runs came in when Sean Swenson bounced a single up the middle. Consecutive walks to Connor Drews and Will Richman extended Brebeuf Jesuit's lead to 4-0. 

The inning ended when Roncalli center fielder Nick Schnell made a fine diving catch to rob Shaine Mitchell of a hit. 

Erik Hommel relieved Panaranto in the top of the seventh.  The sophomore right-hander gave up a run on a two-out single by Bo Richey that brought in Jackson Williams from second base. 

Roncalli’s second hit came in the seventh when Tommy Hansen singled with one away.  Nierman got the next batter on a fly to right and ended the game with a strikeout. 

Cam Farren went 3-for-4 and Bo Richey contributed a pair of singles to the nine-hit attack by Brebeuf Jesuit.  

The Rebels came to Victory Field fresh from Saturday's 17-1 pounding of Hamilton Southeastern, while Brebeuf Jesuit's eight-game win skein ended Saturday with a pair of losses:  8-0 to Andrean and 7-5 to Sullivan.   

After a 3-9 start, the Braves have won 11 of their last 15 contests.  “We came in (to the season) with a lot of high hopes,” said Brebeuf Jesuit coach Jeremy Sassanella.  “It's been a real rollercoaster ride.  At times, we haven't played very good baseball.  Our pitchers that were coming back who threw well for us last year were struggling.  We weren't hitting early. 

“It's kind of interesting, because we then won eight in a row.  Credit to the boys, the team has come around and things are coming together.  The season didn't start the way we wanted.  Twenty-seven games in at 14-and-13 is not necessarily how we drew things up.  But now we're in a good place.  I'm just super proud of the kids.” 

NOTES

 The announced attendance for Monday’ doubleheader was 1,282. 

Cathedral reached the City championship game with a 19-0 quarterfinal win over Shortridge and a 10-0 win over Scecina in the semis.   

Heritage Christian qualified with a 9-0 quarterfinal win over Manual and a 4-1 semifinal triumph over Cardinal Ritter. 

In the County bracket, Brebeuf's path to the title game included a 14-4 win over Pike, a 5-3 defeat of Decatur Central in quarterfinal play, and a 2-1 nail-biter in the semis against Lawrence North.   

Roncalli opened tourney play with a 15-1 romp past Beech Grove, followed by a 5-0 win over North Central in the quarterfinal round and a 3-0 semifinal victory over Perry Meridian. 

Cathedral's Nick Eaton, an IU recruit, will head to Bloomington for next week's Big Ten Tournament. “I'll go down there and say hi,” he said. “They're great guys and I'll be down there to support them.” 

The first game took two hours and two minutes, while the nightcap was played in an hour and 52 minutes.  

Pete Cava is the author of “Tales From the Cubs Dugout” and “Indiana-Born Major League Baseball Players:  A Biographical Dictionary, 1871-2014.”