Millers Blank Hamilton SE 6-0 in Title Game

By Pete Cava

PBR Indiana Correspondent

Trevor Salmon combined with Cory Conway on a five-hit shutout and Andrew Wilson homered as the Class 4A No. 5 Noblesville Millers claimed the Sectional No. 8 crown Tuesday night with a 6-0 win over the Hamilton Southeastern Royals at Noblesville’s Dunker Field. 

Salmon stymied Hamilton SE for six and one-third innings before Conway came in to get the final two outs of the game.  “It’s my biggest win,” said Salmon, who relied on a fastball, curve and slider.  “It’s the greatest feeling I’ve ever had in my life.” 

Wilson went 3-for-4 with two runs batted in to lead the Millers, while Vincent Essig added a pair of RBI and Zach St. Pierre, Dax McLochlin and Connor Christman contributed two hits apiece.  

“I was just trying to go out there and focus and relax, and get as much ball as I could,” said Wilson, a senior left fielder who will attend Purdue this fall.  “I’ve been struggling lately, but I was just trying to focus, get back to the fundamentals and square the ball up.” 

Noblesville coach Justin Keever, who used five underclassmen in the two-hour, seven-minute contest, singled out his ten senior players for their leadership and heaped praise on his entire team “They all have their role,” Keever said. 

Both sides squandered early scoring opportunities.  

Wilson led off the top of the first for Noblesville with a single.  He took second on an infield out, but was stranded when Hamilton Southeastern starter Bryan Roberts fanned the next two batters. 

In the bottom of the frame, Royals leadoff hitter Tre Gantt drilled Salmon's first pitch down the right field line for a two-base hit.  When Matt Gorski attempted a bunt, Salmon made a diving catch and threw to Christman, the Millers shortstop, to double up Gantt.  

Aaron McGee followed with a double to left, but died there when David Herrmann popped up. 

Noblesville (24-8) stranded two more runners in the top of the second.  With one away, McLochlin beat out an infield hit.  One out later, Christman singled to left to give the Millers runners at first and second.  The threat ended when Bret Rundle flied out. 

Hamilton Southeastern (13-17) had two aboard in their half of the second when Carter Poiry drew a two-out base on balls and took second on Erik DeWael's base hit.  Salmon slipped a called third strike past Matt Nash to end the inning. 

It was starting to look like deja vu all over again in the top of the third, when Wilson led off with a single and advanced on Brian McLean's grounder to second.  Garrett Christman walked, but Essig flew out and St. Pierre fanned. 

Salmon, a senior left-hander, finally broke the pattern with a one-two-three inning in the bottom of the third.  “I couldn’t get my curve ball over in the first couple of innings, so I struggled,” he said.  “I figured it out in the third inning, and started to deal.” 

In the top of the fourth, Salmon’s teammates backed him up with a five-run outburst.  McLochlin started the onslaught with a two-bagger that hugged the right-field line.  Roberts struck out the next two Noblesville batters, but Rundle drove an 0-2 pitch into center for a run-scoring single.  Wilson followed with a towering home run over the left field fence.  

“It was a curve ball.  He hung it,” said Wilson.  “He threw it the pitch before, and threw the exact same thing again, and I wasn’t going to miss it that time.”  Wilson knew the pitch would leave the yard as soon as he made contact.  “Off the bat, there’s a BBCOR feeling that you just know it’s gone,” he said.  

The next Noblesville batter, Brian McLean, reached first on an infield error and went to third on Christman's base hit.  Christman stole second, and Essig laced a single to left to plate both runners.  Essig moved to second on a throwing error. 

That ended Roberts’ night.  “He was cruising until the fourth.” said Hamilton Southeastern coach Scott Henson, who moved Carter Poiry from shortstop to the mound in an effort to contain the damage. 

St. Pierre greeted Poiry with a single to shallow left.  Essig raced to third and streaked toward home, but a bullet throw by Erik DeWael – who had moved from third to short to replace Poiry – nailed Essig at the plate. 

Salmon, meanwhile, found his groove after the second inning.  The University of Southern Indiana recruit retired 12 consecutive batters until Aaron McGee’s two-out single in the bottom of the sixth.  “It was a good stretch right there, just going one-two-three,” said Salmon.  “It’s nice and easy on the defense, too.” 

Noblesville added a run in the seventh when St. Pierre singled, stole second, took third and scored on McLochlin's grounder to short. 

After getting the first out in the bottom half of the seventh, Salmon gave up a hit to Jack Casey and walked Poiry.  At that point, Noblesville coach Justin Keever summoned Conway.  “I was a little bit fatigued going into the seventh inning,” Salmon said.  “I couldn’t find it very much, and Coach made a good call in taking me out.” 

Conway, the sophomore southpaw, struck out the next two Royals hitters to preserve the win and give Noblesville the Sectional crown.  “Cory’s been like that all year,” said Keever.  “He’s come into tough spots all year long and won us some ballgames.”  

Even with a six-run lead, Keever claimed he couldn’t relax.  “I didn’t breathe easy until we had that third strike,” he said.