Penn Wins Sectional, Gives Dikos 700th Career Victory

By Steve Krah

PBR Indiana Correspondent 

ELKHART — A sectional title and a milestone. 

That’s what Penn celebrated Monday, May 29. 

The No. 10-ranked Kingsmen beat Elkhart Central 16-3 in six innings to win the Class 4A Elkhart Sectional and give 30th-year head coach his 700th career victory. 

In winning the 21st sectional in program history and earning a spot in the four-team LaPorte Regional on Saturday, June 3, Penn (24-6) collected 11 hits, drew 10 walks and were hit by two pitches against the Blue Blazers (17-12). 

Central went 10 and seven innings and winning walk-off games against Warsaw and Elkhart Memorial Saturday and depleted the ECHS pitching staff in the process. 

“It’s unfortunate with the new set-up and the pitch count (rule),” Dikos (700-248) said. “Central came in with their backs’ against the wall. The battled. It was interesting for three or four innings and then you could tell they had to go with their younger pitchers.  

“The bottom line is that you’ve got to take advantage (of mistakes) in high school ball. You’re going to get a lot of those things.” 

Senior Trevor Waite, the Kingsmen’s lead-off hitter, scored five runs and drove in a run by socking his sixth home run of 2017. 

“We knew their pitching staff was going to be a little bit thin,” Waite said. “We took advantage of that and scored some runs.” 

How about the home run? 

“It was a fastball and I saw it pretty well,” Waite said. “I got ahold of it.” 

Waite, who represents one of three NCAA Division I recruits in the first four spots in the lineup (Waite is bound for Dayton, No. 3 senior Niko Kavadas Notre Dame and No. 4 senior Nolan Metcalf Kansas). 

“To be able to give him the win is very rewarding,” Waite said. “He gives us his all so we’ve got to make sure we give him our all.” 

Blazers coach Steve Stutsman praised his team for their gritty play. 

“I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” Stutsman said. “For three innings, we played with them.” 

Freshman Ryan Lynch (win, 6-0; (3 2/3 innings, 3 runs, 2 hits, 5 strikeouts, 5 walks) drove in four runs with three hits and a hit batsman. 

Penn scored an unearned run in the top of the first inning. 

A three-base error on a ball struck by Waite led to Waite scoring on a sacrifice fly by Kavadas. 

The frame ended with a bases full of Kingsmen. 

Central took a 2-1 lead with two runs in the bottom of the first inning. 

Senior Andrew Salmon walked, moved to second on sophomore  Bryce Sherwood’s fielder’s choice and scored on sophomore Jake Shreiner’s single to left field. 

Shreiner scored the go-ahead run on senior Hunter Sauserman’s single to right field. 

The Kingsmen knotted the score at 2-2 when Waite pulled a first-pitch home run to right with two outs in the second inning. 

Penn left a runner stranded at third base in the third inning. 

Metcalf walked, moved to second on a balk and third on a groundout, but go no further. 

The Kingsmen assumed a 7-2 lead in the fourth inning. 

Kavadas drew a bases-loaded walk, plating senior Ryan Lau (who reached base on a lead-off walk). 

Metcalf popped an RBI single into short right field, scoring Waite (who reached base on an intentional walk). 

Lynch lashed a two-run single to right, knocking in senior Matt Kominkiewicz (fielder’s choice) and Kavadas (walk). 

Senior right-hander Ross Kirkton (1 2/3 innings, 5 runs, 1 hit, 0 strikeouts, 4 walks) replaced right-hander Sherwood (loss; 3 1/3 innings, 7 runs, 6 hits, 1 strikeout, 5 walks) on the mound for the Blazers with one out and runners and second and third base. 

Metcalf tallied the seventh run scored on a sacrifice fly by junior Payton Kerr. 

The Blazers tallied one two-out run in the bottom of the fourth inning to pull within 7-3. 

Sophomore right-hander Kegan Hoskins (1 1/3 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 strikeout, 0 walks) spelled left-hander Lynch on the mound for Penn with two outs the and bases loaded and notched a strikeout to end the Central rally. 

Blazers senior catcher Tayler Holtzinger threw out a would-be base stealer at second base to end the Kingsmen half of the fifth inning. 

Penn sent 15 batters to the plate and racked up nine runs to push its advantage to 16-3. 

Waite scored two runs while Kominkiewicz, Metcalf, Lynch, Kerr, Lau, junior Nate Vargo and freshman pinch-runner Camryn Szynski tallied one apiece. 

The Kingsmen uprising featured five hits, four walks and two hit batters. Driving in runs were Metcalf (walk), Lynch (hit batsman), Kerr (walk), Vargo (single to center) and Kavadas (infield single). 

Sophomore left-hander Patrick Yeakey (1 inning, 4 runs, 4 hits, 1 strikeout, 1 walk) took Kirkton’s place on the mound for the Blazers with no outs and the bases loaded. 

“We’re better defensively than what we showed that last inning,” Stutsman said. “This group has done everything we’ve asked them to do this year. They’ve made coaching fun again. I really hate to see our seniors go, but I’m really looking forward to the next couple years.” 

Junior right-hander Chad McKenzie (1 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 strikeouts, 0 walks) pitched the sixth for Penn. 

The Kingsmen beat the Blazers 8-2 in Northern Indiana Conference regular-season play in April.


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