4A Lafayette Regional: HSE Downs Carroll; Heads to Semi-State

Rich Torres
PBR Indiana Correspondent

LAFAYETTE – The pitching was always there for Class 4A No. 20 Hamilton Southeastern, now the hitting has arrived.

Anchored by their Division-I aces, the Royals’ bats have come to life during the Regional 2 finals on Saturday night and it led to a 6-1 upset victory over No. 11 Carroll.

“It’s huge. I don’t even know the last time this happened at HSE. It was a long time ago,” HSE senior and Akron recruit Greyson Droste said. “This is huge for us because it’s our last season together, and we’ve been playing since we were 8 together, so it’s a special group for sure, and we’re not done yet.”

The Royals used a 10-hit attack with five extra-base hits to upend the Chargers (23-9) and posted 24 hits in the tournament after knocking off Fort Wayne South Side 14-0 by run-rule on five innings during the semifinals.

Droste set the tone for the Royals by driving in the first run of the game with an RBI single in the top of the first inning. The Royals’ cleanup hitter unloaded three innings later with a solo blast over the left-field wall. The longball was his first of the season.

“Droste hit his first home run of the year, so we were a little excited. We knew he was somewhere, and he finally showed it tonight,” HSE senior ace and Ball State recruit Tyler Schweitzer said. “With Cam (Bolling) hitting tonight, he was stellar. I think we finally have a chance to win this thing.”

Bolling finished the day 4-for-6 with four RBI. In the championship game, he had two RBI on consecutive doubles to left field in the fifth and sixth innings.

Droste was 2-for-3 with two RBI and one run. Anthony Eggers went 1-for-3 with an RBI bunt single in the fifth. Cole DeWael was 1-for-3 with an RBI single in the sixth. The Royals strung together a pair of two-run, four-hit frames in the fifth and sixth to build an insurmountable 6-0 lead.

“Just winning is fun. We’re finally hitting the ball, so just us dealing is one more edge that we have,” Schweitzer said. “Our hitters don’t have to worry about having to score this one run right here. This is an insurance run for us because they know we’re going to get the job done.”

Carroll had little success against Schweitzer, who tossed six scoreless innings despite allowing eight hits, including a double to Bryce Ginder (2-for-3). The Chargers best chance at an early run unfolded in the bottom of the first when Ginder reached with a double.

Sebastian Kuhns walked and Micah Fretz singled, but the Royals defense kept them off the board as Ginder tried to score from second. DeWael collected Fretz’s single to center field and fired the ball to home where catcher Jack DeWolf tagged out Ginder on the slide.

The Chargers struck out nine times against Schweitzer and walked twice, but they stranded 10 runners.

“We’re playing a positive belief in ourselves and we’re learning about ourselves all the time,” HSE coach Jeremey Sassanella said. “Some of the big plays we’ve had have been just fantastic.”

Carroll scratched across their lone run in the bottom of the seventh against HSE closer Cole Graverson, a junior, after they put a runner on with an fielding error and loaded the bases following a single by Cam Neidens and a walk drawn by Ginder.

Graverson struck out Jerod Handsoe before a fielder’s choice by Kuhns drove in Jaycob McCullough from third base. A fly ball to left field ended the inning and secure HSE’s first regional title since 2004.

“Right now, we’re just happy to have this one,” Bolling said.

The Royals will compete at either the Plymouth or Kokomo Semistate next against the winner of No. 15 Lake Central and No. 19 Mishawaka who will play in the LaPorte Regional championship on Monday at 6 p.m.