HSE Wins Sectional 8 Championship

Rich Torres
PBR Indiana Correspondent

NOBLESVILLE – Playing the waiting game wasn’t easy, but once the Sectional 8 championship game resumed on Tuesday night, the Class 4A No. 20 Hamilton Southeastern Royals were ready to finish what they started.

With the title game postponed after severe storms swept over Dunker Field on Memorial Day, the Royals faced a 1-1 tie with No. 17 Carmel with one man on base in the bottom of the fourth.

HSE’s Cole DeWael made sure the deadlock didn’t linger long.

The junior leadoff hitter smacked a two-run, two-out triple into right-center field to put HSE up 3-1, and the Royals posted consecutive three-run innings to clinch their first sectional championship since 2015 with a 7-1 win.

“We have the pitching to compete,” HSE coach Jeremy Sassanella said. “I think along the path we have to find different ways to score runs. Sometimes the guys are just dialed in and you have some success offensively. But there are times we have to move runners and steal bases and bunt guys over. We just try to have the kids prepared. Ultimately, they have to go out and execute, and they did today.”

The Royals (19-8) came out disciplined in the bottom of the fourth, sending nine hitters to the plate, including junior Jake Huston, who reached after getting hit by a pitch on Monday before the came was moved to Tuesday.

Three straight walks issued by Carmel reliever Alex Brooks after DeWael’s triple supplied Akron recruit Greyson Droste with a bases-loaded RBI free pass that increased HSE’s lead 4-1.

“We just keep driving them in, keep getting base hits for our team and doing our job,” DeWael said. “This is the biggest sectional in Indiana. It was really hard to do, but our pitching is great. We came back today after the rain delay and just kept hitting.”

The hit parade continued in the bottom of the fifth, once again with two outs, as a double by senior Jake Stout was followed up by three singles from senior Cam Bolling, DeWael and senior Anthony Eggers, who was a perfect 3-for-3.

Stout went 1-for-4 with two runs scored, while Bolling was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. The primary damage was done by DeWael and Eggers in the two hole. The duo combined for five RBI, five hits and two extra-base hits.

DeWael finished 2-for-4 with three RBI and three runs scored. Eggers had two RBI, including a run-scoring single in the fifth after DeWael battled a nine-pitch at-bat to drive in another and up the margin 6-1.

The Royals had six starters in the lineup hitting .286 or lower, but they’ve found their groove in the postseason. The team’s average has elevated to .281 with five home runs, 58 stolen bases, 129 RBI, 148 runs scored, and 52 extra-base hits while the team has won seven straight games.

“We were hearing people say that we can’t hit, and it’s been pitchers, so we all really wanted to go out there and show them what we can do,” Eggers said. “Even though the stats say we’ve been hitting low, we all feel that one through nine, we can hit.”

On the mound, the Royals turned to No. 3 starter Cole Graverson with both senior aces Xavier commit Michael Dillon and Ball State recruit Tyler Schweitzer unavailable due to pitch count concerns and usage during the sectional semifinal and on Monday.

“I was expecting to come back in because with 50 pitches, my arm felt great. I was long tossing earlier, and then I got told I wasn’t going back in,” Schweitzer said. “I was a little upset, but I knew Cole could get the job done.”

Graverson, a junior lefthander, didn’t skip a beat, tossing a one-hitter over 3.0 innings with six strikeouts. He walked two and ended each frame with a swinging strikeout.

“I’m really proud of him,” Sassanella said. “He’s a great young man, who is really growing into this year and for next year.”

Primarily a closer for HSE, Graverson improved his record to 2-1 after Schweitzer opened the game on Monday with four strikeouts, a walk and three hits allowed over 4.0 innings.

“That’s been my role this year as the closer, but you just have to approach it same as every game,” Graverson said. “Obviously, my boys helped me out and I just tried to throw strikes.”

Carmel tied the game 1-1 in the top of the fourth behind a double steal as Butler recruit Jackson Adams stole second after an intentional walk and junior Christian Williams slid into home. Both runners went during the first pitch exchange back to the mound.

 After logging one hit in three of the first four innings, Carmel (21-8) went hitless until sophomore J.D. Rogers singled up the middle against Graverson.

Graverson induced a popup to left field and struck out senior Jared Greene swinging to seize the Royals’ 15th sectional title all time. HSE knocked off North Central 7-0 during the sectional quarterfinals and bested Westfield 1-0 in the semifinals before winning their third sectional in seven years and second in five.

The Royals haven’t won a regional crown since 2004.

“I feel it’s all about energy. If we come out ready to go, I feel we can get things done,” Schweitzer said. “We’re not finished yet. Why not us? A lot of teams our out now. I feel like we have a better chance to win this thing.”

The Royals will now face Fort Wayne South Side in the first game at the Lafayette Jefferson Regional on Saturday at 11 a.m. No. 11 Carroll and Logansport play in the other regional semifinal at 1 p.m.

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