3A Griffith Regional: Andean, South Bend St. Joseph to Clash in Regional Final


Steve Krah
PBR Indiana Correspondent

GRIFFITH — Two of the top three teams in IHSAA Class 3A will have to wait to play for a regional baseball championship.

Rainy weather kept the final of the Griffith Regional between No. 1 Andrean (33-1) and No. 3 South Bend St. Joseph (22-3) from being played Saturday, June 1. That contest will instead be played at 11 a.m. CST Monday, June 3.

In Saturday’s semifinals, St. Joseph beat Western 12-4 and Andrean blanked No. 6 Griffith 11-0 in five innings.

Semifinals

South Bend St. Joseph 12, Western 4

The Indians built a 10-0 lead in the first three innings and beat the Panthers (19-8). 

“There was only one inning where we didn’t score runs,” said St. Joseph coach John Gumpf. “If you can get a lead and continue to score runs every inning, that helps. “Their pitchers were struggling with strikes. We got guys on and got some big hits. We had a good approach at the plate today.”

Senior right-hander Michael Schroeder put Western away 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh with a pop-out and two strikeouts.

The Indians scored one run against senior right-hander Jeremiah Hayes in the bottom of the sixth and led 12-4. 

Senior Noah Hickey drew a lead-off walk and later scored on senior Patrick Farrisee’s sacrifice fly to left.

Schreoder retired the side in order against Western in the sixth with a groundout, strikeout and line-out.

St. Joseph tallied one run against Hayes in the bottom of the fifth Senior Nick Dolniak walked and scored on junior Brady Gumpf’s single to left. 

Freshman right-hander Parker Dean relieved Hayes and retired three of the four batters he faced.

Schroeder spelled sophomore right-hander Kyle Tupper on the mound for St. Joseph to open the Western fifth. 

Senior Noah Sanders smacked a two-out single to center but was left at first base when St. Joseph catcher Gumpf threw out Western senior Kitchel Gifford trying to reach on a bunt. The Indians left a runner at second base against Hayes during a score-free fourth. Junior Nathaniel Garcia was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a wild pitch. Hayes fanned the last three batters.

The Panthers sent nine hitters to the plate and produced four runs in the top of the fourth to cut the gap to 10-4.

The inning began with Tupper relieving senior right-hander Joe Rotkis for St. Joseph.

“We got Joe out of there only because we were up 10,” said Gumpf, whose starter allowed three hits with four strikeouts and two walks over 70 pitches in three innings. “He was going to take us. I figured we’d save him a little bit.”

Junior Collin Rassel led off with a walk and sophomore Braeden Bryant followed with a single to center. Both scored on Gifford’s single to left.

Junior Conner Linn’s one-out single drove in Sanders (infield single). Freshman Parker Shelton’s two-out single to left knocked in Gifford. 

St. Joseph pushed its advantage to 10-0 with four runs in the bottom of the third.

The first three batters — Garcia (on by error), Hickey (single to right) and junior Caleb Hlade (bunt single) — reached against junior right-hander McCauley before Hayes took the mound in relief.

Garcia scored on a Hayes wild pitch.

Hickey came home on Dolniak’s sacrifice fly to center.

Hlade scored run on Gumpf’s single to center.

Rotkis plated Farrisee (walk) with the 10th run a single to right.

Western left the bases loaded against Rotkis in the top of a scoreless third.

Gifford led off with walk, junior Kace Howard was hit by a pitch and Shelton walked before Rotkis got a strikeout and groundout for the second and third outs.

The Indians tallied two runs against junior right-hander Matt McCauley in the bottom of the second for a 6-0 lead. 

Dolniak drew a one-out walk, Gumpf was intentionally walked and both crossed the plate on senior Mitchell Coleman’s two-out double to right.

The Panthers stranded runners at first and second against Rotkis in the top of a score-free second.

Rassel reached on a two-out infield single and Bryant walked. The first and third outs were strikeouts with a groundout in the middle.

St. Joseph scored the game’s first four runs against senior right-hander Gavin White in the bottom of the first.

Farrisee drew a lead-off walk and later scored on Coleman’s sacrifice fly to center field.

Dolniak was hit by a pitch, Rotkis and senior A.J. Klimek walked and all three scored on Garcia’s triple to left.

Following Garcia’s three-bagger, senior right-hander Gavin White was relieved by McCauley who got an inning-ending groundout.

Western left a runner at second base against Rotkis in a scoreless top of the first.

Junior Donavan Shepherd rapped a one-out single to left and stole second base.

Panthers coach Ryan Berryman decided not to use junior ace Linn (a University of Cincinnati verbal commit) on the mound because of a sore arm.

“Gavin White has been very good pitcher and a bulldog for us this year, but our best pitcher is Conner Linn the lefty and he’s sore.”

The sectional being extended to Tuesday did not help Linn’s recovery.

“Conner does not bounce back as well as he’d like,” said Berryman. “He usually goes once a week. “(All our pitchers) were behind (in the count). (St. Joseph) did a great job of jumping out on us. All the walks, hit batsman and you mix in some hits and that’s losing baseball.”

Andrean 11, Griffith 0 (5 Innings)

Led by sophomore Charlie Jones, junior Tyler Nelson and senior Joel Holtcamp with two each, the 59ers piled up 12 hits in beating the Panthers (22-6) by the mercy rule. 

“We probably didn’t square up five balls in three games in the sectional and came out here against better pitching and better competition and we squared up 10 balls,” said Andrean coach Dave Pishkur. “We hit a lot of balls hard today. We didn’t strike out. We took advantage of situations.”

Holtcamp and sophomore Michael Jarek drove in three runs apiece while Jones and Nelson scored two each.

Right-handers Michael Doolin and Holtcamp combined on the abbreviated one-hit shutout. Senior Doolin gave up one hit with three strikeouts and 26 pitches in the first three frames and Holtcamp finished up.

Griffith went down in order against Holtcamp in the top of the fifth with a strikeout, fly-out and groundout.

The 59ers took a 11-0 lead with three runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Nelson and Doolin both singled to right before senior right-hander Johnny Maynard relieved senior right-hander Cody Wilkins on the mound or Griffith.

Jarek singled to left to plate Nelson.

Holtcamp singled to left to drive in freshman pinch runner Robert Balentine (running for Doolin) and Jarek.

Holtcamp relieved Doolin to open the Panther fourth.

Seniors A.J. Wright and Bubba Davenport walked but Holtcamp recorded two strikeouts and a fly-out in a scoreless stanza.

Andrean used seven hits to score seven runs against senior right-hander Kyle Iwinski in the bottom of the third for an 8-0 lead.

Jones singled to right and junior Jake Mullen was hit by pitch and both scored on Nelson’s single to left.

Jarek’s single to left drove in Nelson and Doolin (single to left).

Jarek scored on Holtcamp’s double to center.

Holtcamp trotted home on senior Matt Lelito’s single to left.

Lelito crossed the plate on junior Mason Sannito’s double to right.

Griffith went down in order against Doolin in the top of the third with two groundouts and a caught-looking strikeout. Doolin had 10 pitches in the frame and 26 for the first three innings.

It took Iwinski five pitches to put the 59ers away with three groundouts in the bottom of the second.

Doolin sent the Panthers down 1-2-3 in the top of the second with two groundouts and a strikeout.

Andrean scored the game’s first run against Iwinski in the bottom of the first.

Jones lashed a lead-off double to right, went to third base on Nelson’s groundout and scored on Doolin’s sacrifice fly to right.

Griffith led a runner at second base in a scoreless top of the first.

A.J. Wright dropped in a one-out double against Doolin, who got a strikeout and pop-out to close out the frame.

“They hit the ball,” said Panthers coach Brian Jennings. “We didn’t embarrass ourselves. “We had nothing to lose. The pressure was on them. They are the defending state champs. They are the team that needs to finish it off. “I’m proud of our kids. We had a great season.”

Griffith made it to the regional after winning an eighth straight sectional title.

“Our seniors understand the expectation here every year,” said Jennings. “You don’t want to be the senior class that broke the streak.

“There’s only 64 teams that win a (sectional) trophy every year in Indiana. This program is tradition-rich and a hometown team. I’m proud of it.”

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