4A State Championship: Top-Ranked Fishers Edges Cathedral for Program's First Title

Steve Krah
PBR Indiana Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — It was hyped as a showdown between central Indiana high school baseball powerhouses and it did not disappoint.

Top-ranked Fishers outlasted Indianapolis Cathedral 4-3 Friday, June 15 in the IHSAA Class 4A state championship.

The Tigers (29-7) bested the Irish (23-9-1) before 4,308 at Victory Field in Indianapolis. The two schools are located about 20 minutes apart.

“Our guys literally do not know how to quit,” said 12th-year Fishers head coach Matt Cherry after the program’s first state title. “It’s a testament to their families, our community, the teachers in our building, teaching them to be tough.

“Our guys want to win so much. They don’t care who gets the credit.”

Senior Ben Burton drove in two runs while L.V. Phillips Mental Attitude Award-winning senior Matt Wolff was on-base four times for the Tigers.

“I’m pretty much the energy of the whole team,” said Burton. “When I produce something, the whole dugout’s up and going.

“The No. 9 hole is the best spot to hit because it produces the most energy. We had huge, high expectations. I’m just glad we could fulfill them.”

Cherry has watched Burton go through a position change — he was in left field Friday — and keep getting things done.

“(Burton) has been awesome,” said Cherry. “He’s gotten big hit after big hit this season.”

Fishers used two senior pitchers — right-hander Luke Albright (9-2; 5

1/3 innings, 3 runs, 3 hits, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts) and left-hander Grant Richardson (second save; 1 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts).

“Luke’s been a bulldog for three seasons,” said Cherry. “He just competes. He’s our hardest worker. This tournament run, we gave guys Monday off and he’d come in and get ready for his next start. He’s a workhorse, the guy you want on the mound in the state championship game.

“Grant came in from the left side throwing hard with his big curveball.”

The Irish employed three right-handers — senior Jared Poland (5-4; 4

2/3 innings, 4 runs, 4 hits, 6 walks, 2 strikeouts) and juniors Mitch Bertrand (1/3 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 0 strikeouts) and Derek Haslett (2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 walks, 0 strikeouts).

Cathedral, the designated home team, left runners at first and second base in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Richardson struck out Bertrand.

Junior Bo Sanders was hit by a pitch and moved to second base on a passed ball.

Senior lead-off man Mack Murphy drew a walk.

Poland, a University of Louisville commit and Boston Red Sox selection in the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, popped out to senior shortstop Craig Yoho for the second out.

“They kind of pitched around him the first few times,” said second-year Cathedral head coach Ed Freje. “They had to go after him at the end and Jared just missed it.

“We had some (offensive) opportunities in the last two innings and just didn’t get it done when we needed to.”

Senior Collin Greene flied out to junior center fielder J.J. Woolwine for the championship-clinching out.

Fishers left a runner at second base against Haslett in the top of scoreless seventh.

With two outs, Wolff cracked a double to right field. After a walk, Haslett got a fly ball for the third out.

The Irish left the bases loaded in a score-free sixth.

Poland led off with a single to center and stole second base and third base.

Albright walked junior Cole Vassilo with his 101st and final pitch of the contest and was spelled on the mound by Richardson.

A wild pitch allowed junior pinch runner Carson Caito to move up to second base.

Richardson fanned senior Evan Uhland, who slugged the game-winning home run as Cathedral beat Penn 4-3 in eight innings in the 2017 4A state championship game, for the second out.

Junior Peyton Schofield walked to fill the sacks.

Richardson whiffed senior Alex Scherer to close the inning.

Fishers stranded a runner at second base in a scoreless sixth.

Senior Jack Roudebush walked against Bertrand, who was then relieved by Haslett. A sacrifice bunt by Burton pushed pinch runner Caito (running for Roudebush) to second base. But that’s as far as he got as Haslett got a fly-out and pop-out to end the Fishers threat.

The Irish cut the gap to 4-3 with one run in the fifth.

The first hit off Albright — a sharp single into left field by Schofield — led off the inning. Scherer’s sacrifice bunt moved to Schofield to second base.

After Bertrand’s one-out walk, No. 9 batter Sanders lashed an RBI single into left to drive in Schofield. Sanders was thrown out — left fielder Burton to shortstop Yoho to sophomore second baseman Nick Lukac — trying to stretch the hit into a double.

Albright turned comebacker to the mound into the third out and stranded courtesy runner Caito (running for Bertrand) at third base.

The Tigers scored one run against Poland in the top of the fifth for a 4-2 advantage.

Richardson blooped a two-out double down the line in left and went to third base on an error.

Junior Kiel Brenczewski walked and sophomore courtesy runner Colin Shelton stole second base. Wolff walked to load the bases.

On Poland’s 101st and final pitch of the night, senior Alex Jamieson walked with the bases load to force in Richardson.

Bertrand then replaced Poland on the mound for Cathedral. With one pitch, sidearmer Bertrand got out of the jam by getting a fly-out to center.

The Irish scored another run against Albright without a hit in the bottom of the fourth to pull within 3-2.

Poland led off with a walk. Courtesy runner Caito stole second base, moved to third base on Greene’s groundout and scored on Vassilo’s sacrifice fly to left.

“Caito made some things happen with no hits,” said Freje. “We were able to scratch a couple runs across.”

Albright had 63 pitches through four innings.

Poland retired the side in order in a scoreless Fishers fourth with a fly-out and two groundouts.

Cathedral went down in succession in the bottom of a score-free third with a called third strike and two fly-outs.

Albright came through his first three frames with 38 pitches.

In a scoreless Tigers third, Fishers left a runner on second base.

With two outs, Wolff walked and stole second base before Poland coaxed a fly ball for the third out. The Irish hurler ran his pitch count to 68.

Albright set Cathedral down 1-2-3 with two groundouts and a pop-up in the bottom of the second.

Fishers tallied three two-out runs against Poland in the top of the second to take a 3-1 lead.

“We talk about answering back when we get punch in the mouth,” said Cherry. “Our guys have done it all year.

“It’s been their M.O.”

With the load bases and two outs, Burton rapped a full-count pitch to left for a two-run double, plating Wolff (who singled to center) and Lukac (who walked).

Roudebush (who reached by walk) was driven in with the third run on a single to right by Woolwine.

The inning ended when Cathedral right fielder made a diving catch to take a hit away from Yoho.

Cathedral scored the game’s first run — an unearned one — against Albright in the bottom of the first.

With one out, Poland walked. Courtesy runner Caito went from first to home on the same play. He stole second base, moved to third base on a throwing error and scored on another overthrow.

The Tigers went down in order against Poland with a fly-out, foul pop and strikeout in the top of a scoreless first.

Fishers had advanced to the state championship game by winning the Noblesville Sectional, Lafayette Jeff Regional and Plymouth Semistate.

The Irish reigned at the Warren Central Sectional, Decatur Central Regional and Plainfield Semistate.

Freje put the night and the season into perspective.

“It’s remarkable to get back here,” said Freje. “I’m really happy for our guys having the opportunity to go back-to-back. Give Fishers a ton of credit. From start to finish this season, they’ve been right there and they capped it off.”