Boone Grove Knocks Off Top Ranked LCC to Advance to 2A State Championship

Rich Torres
PBR Indiana Correspondent

PLYMOUTH -- Ty Bothwell didn't mind the scrapes on his hands. Class 2A Boone Grove's ace wore each one proudly after pitching a complete-game four-hitter during the Plymouth Semistate at Bill Nixon Field on Saturday afternoon.

Caught near the bottom of the Wolves' celebratory dogpile after Boone Grove knocked off top-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic 1-0, the minor scuffs from random spikes meant one more week of baseball, one more road trip, one more game to make history. This time at Victory Field in Indianapolis. 

"It will be fun," Bothwell remarked on the Wolves' final destination set for next weekend versus No. 9 Southridge. "Playing on a nice field, playing against another good team, it will be an all-around fun day."

This postseason, there has hardly been a dull moment for the Wolves, who are now advancing to the program's first-ever state championship game appearance. 

Claiming the team's 13th sectional title all time, followed by its seventh regional overall -- and first since 2007-08 -- Bothwell's gem at Centennial Park secured a first semistate championship for a program unfazed by big moments. 

Win No. 20 on the season meant another upset for the giant-slaying Wolves (20-5), who continue to turn the 2A state rankings on its head at each step. 

At the Whiting Regional, Boone Grove eliminated No. 2 South Adams 1-0 in 10 innings to punch their semistate ticket. Against the seven-time state champion Knights, Bothwell and the Wolves struck again, needing only one hit. 

"In the fall, our goal was State 2018," Boone Grove head coach Patrick Antone said. "We knew what we were trying to do, stayed focused through all the ups and downs this year and was able to come out and focus on one game at a time, one pitch at a time and compete. That's the biggest thing. Compete." 

Bothwell, an Indiana commit, was locked in against the Knights, who had won 13 straight games entering Saturday in search of a record-setting 10th state championship game appearance. 

The left-hander struck out 13, walked two and allowed no more than one hit per inning against 30 batters faced while stranding nine runners, including five in scoring position. 

"That's low for him," Antone commented on Bothwell's strikeout tally.

"He's been a machine this year. He's gone out there and done more than we could ever ask of him. He's been a huge piece of the puzzle." 

Tanner Barron was the offensive catalyst during the Wolves' latest victory, dropping a flare into shallow center field in the top of the fourth to drive in the team's lone run. 

Boone Grove led off the inning with a five-pitch walk by Austin LeMar before Barron connected with two outs against Knights' starter Jake Marin. 

"Pressure is always something you put on yourself, so I just blocked out the crowd and everything, and I just pictured me and the pitcher,"

Barron said. "I knew I had to hit something hard, and obviously, I tried to put something in play, and it ended up working out. We had a fast guy on base, so I just wanted to put something over the infield's heads." 

LeMar motored in from second base after moving up with a stolen base.

Marin, however, was tough to crack otherwise, limiting the Wolves to six base runners through seven innings. The lefty struck out nine and walked four with a hit batter and one hit allowed. 

Marin overcame a pair of walks in the top of the first with a strikeout and a groundout while runners stood frozen on second and third. The Wolves only had one other runner reach second base in Taylor Piazza, who was picked off for the third out in the top of the third. 

"In the regional last week, it was pretty much the same thing," Antone said. "We're kind of getting used to it, but hopefully, that's not the case next week. We'd like to have a few more. The deeper you go into the tournament the better pitchers you're going to face, and a lot of times one run will do it, so you just have to find a way to get that one run across." 

One was enough for Bothwell. 

Though he hit two batters, the senior retired five straight twice and fought off a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the fourth with an inning-ending strikeout. The Knights (26-5) threatened in the bottom of the sixth with runners on first and second and two outs, but Bothwell reached back and struck out his 11th batter. 

"He was focused and locked in all week. He knew what he had to do,"

Antone said. "He got ahead in the count, not only with strike one, but two of the first three pitches were strikes. And he got the leadoff out a lot. It made it a lot easier for him and us on defense." 

Bryce Morris made a highlight catch in right field to support Bothwell in the bottom of the third, tracking down IU-Southeast commit Ben Berenda's deep fly. Morris dove for the ball and collided with the wall while keeping his glove tightly closed for the final out and a runner stranded on first base. 

"Two things happened with that. One, I thought he hit a home run. Two, I thought Bryce knocked himself out," Bothwell said. "I'm very glad he didn't, and he also made the catch. Double bonus right there." 

Bothwell doubled down in the bottom of the seventh with two runners on and one out. 

A.J. Bordenet opened the inning with a leadoff single before reaching third on a sac bunt and a passed ball. Scott Lovell took first base with a one-out error and moved to second on the passed ball. 

From there, Bothwell struck out Berenda swinging and Carson Barrett with a called third strike on three pitches to close the game. 

"Go at them with all I got. I figured sink or swim there. Just try going at them with my best," Bothwell said. "I'm just trying to go up there and do my job as a pitcher. What happens, happens. As long as I'm doing my job for the team, and they do their job to back me up, which I know they will, that's it." 

Well, not until after the state championship. 

"We're all confident when he's on the mound because it's never a dull moment with the kid. He's a fantastic pitcher, the best I've ever played with, and he never lets us down," Barron said. "This is huge for us because we were always told we weren't good enough. We made everything a stepping stone, and it's even bigger because it's coach's first year. He's done a great job with us. All the coaches have been huge for us."