ELKHART — “Champions never back down.”
It was the motto that coach Steve Stutsman was echoing Monday night after his Class 4A No. 10-ranked Central baseball team beat Concord 12-1 and defended its Elkhart Sectional title.
Next up is the semifinals of Saturday’s four-team LaPorte Regional.
“We just wanted it,” said Central senior first baseman Jack Bernacchi, who finished with three hits, three runs scored and two runs batted in for the 24-5 Blue Blazers. “Nothing was going to break the focus.
“It was our day.”
Central sent 11 batters to the plate and scored five runs in the top of the first inning. The Blazers produced four hits, including run-scoring singles by Bernacchi, Adam Raifsnider and Ronnie Hawkins, and Concord committed three errors during the frame.
One Minutemen error led directly to a run and Tanner Tully drew a bases-loaded walk to account for the other two Central runs.
“We were ready to go in the first inning and we never stopped,” said Stutsman. “Everything fell into place.”
The Blazers tallied three runs in the third inning. RBI doubles were slugged by Hawkins and Kaleb DeFreese and Tully singled home a run.
A defensive gem was turned in the top of the fifth when Concord left fielder Preston Miller raced over the foul line to retire DeFreese.
In the bottom of the fifth, Concord’s Taylor Miller was cut down trying to score from second base on Matt Kotva’s single — right fielder Tully to second baseman Casey Ianigro to catcher Raifsnider.
The Minutemen’s first run came moments later in the fifth thanks to a fielder’s choice and error by the Blazers.
Central’s two-run sixth featured an RBI double from Bernacchi and sacrifice fly from winning pitcher Riley Futterknecht.
Carson Volheim socked a two-run pinch-hit double for the Blazers in the seventh.
Futterknecht (7-2) struck out eight in a six-inning performance.
Seth Huxford (8-4) went into the seventh for Concord and with eight strikeouts.
Concord, in its first season under head coach Jim Treadway, was 8-8 at one point in the 2012 season and wound up 19-11.
Concord collected 13 hits, including a home run, three triples and a double, in routing Warsaw.
For the Minutemen, Kotva socked a home run, double and single, drove in five runs and scored three runs, Nick Wysong rapped three hits and scored twice and Nick Defreese drove in two runs and scored three times.
“We were looking for first-pitch strikes,” said Treadway after seeing his team get most of its hits on the first pitch.
Starting pitcher Defreese (5-0) worked into the fifth. Jake Stauffer tossed 2 2/3 innings of one-run relief.
Warsaw, which got a two-run home run from University of Toledo-bound Austin Franzen, wound up at 11-18.
Seven of Central’s eight runs against Memorial came with two outs.
“That’s pretty clutch hitting,” said Stutsman. “We just want to put the ball in play. Good things will happen.”
Left-hander Tully (6-1) pitched the first five innings for Central against Memorial and struck out 10 while giving up two hits — a double and triple to Alex Brewers.
Cory Malcom hurled the last three frames for the Blazers and fanned seven while giving up a two-run double to losing pitcher Parker Devenney (3-6).
“That was kind of a synopsis of our entire season,” said Memorial coach Scott Rost, who lamented the fielding errors and the large number of strikeouts. The Crimson Chargers finished at 10-20.
4A Elkhart Sectional
(At Charger Field)
TEAM x, team x
Central 503 002 0 — 12 13 5
Concord 000 010 0 — 1 10 2
Riley Futterknecht (W, 7-2; 8 strikeouts), Tanner Tully (7) and Adam Raifsnider; Seth Huxford (L, 8-4; 8 strikeouts), Jake Stauffer (7) and Dakota Simon.
Central: Hits — Kaleb DeFreese 3, Jack Bernacchi 3, Matt Eppers 2, Ronnie Hawkins 2, Tully, Raifsnider, Carson Volheim. 2B — DeFreese, Malcom, Bernacchi, Volheim. RBI — Tully 2, Bernacchi 2, Volheim 2, Hawkins 2, DeFreese, Raifsnider, Futterknecht. Runs — Bernacchi 3, Tully 2, DeFreese 2, Eppers, Raifsnider, Malcom, Futterknecht, Hawkins. SB — DeFreese, Eppers.
Concord: Hits — Nick Defreese 2, Matt Kotva 2, Cain Crowley 2, Preston Miller 2, Nick Wysong, Duncan Boone. Run — Defreese. Umpires: John Wright, plate; Scott Siler, first base; Robert Bjorkland, third base.
Records: Central 24-5, Concord 19-11.
Next: Penn vs. Valparaiso, Central vs. Munster winner (Lake Central or Lowell) in Class 4A LaPorte Regional Saturday, 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Championship, 8 p.m.
Concord 15, Warsaw 5
Concord 153 101 4 — 15 14 1
Warsaw 100 031 x — 5 6 2
Nick Defreese (W, 5-0), Jake Stauffer (5) and Dakota Simon, Ethan Slattery (4), D. Simon (6); Forde Ness (L), Kyle Gibbs (3), Jason Ferguson (4), Austin Franzen (6), Garrett Gruenewald (7) and Jared Lemler.
Concord: Hits — Nick Wysong 3, Matt Kotva 3, Simon 2, Mason Eldridge 2, Preston Miller 2, Defreese, Cain Crowley. HR — Kotva. 3B — Wysong 2, Eldridge. 2B — Kotva. RBI — Kotva 5, Defreese 2, Simon 2, P. Miller 2, Wysong, Crowley, Connor Slabach. Runs — Defreese 3, Kotva 3, Wysong 2, Eldridge 2, P. Miller 2, Taylor Miller 2, Slabach. SB — Slabach.
Warsaw: Hits — Kyle Morris 2, Franzen, Gruenewald, Shay Hepler, Jake Speicher. HR — Franzen. 2B — Hepler, Gruenewald. RBI — Morris 2, Franzen 2, Brock Anson. Runs — Ferguson, Hepler, Morris, Franzen, Josh Frantz.
Umpires: Robert Bjorkland, plate; Scott Siler, first base; John Wright, third base.
Record: Warsaw 11-18.
Central 8, Memorial 2
Central 032 111 0 — 8 13 0
Memorial 000 002 0 — 2 5 2
Tanner Tully (W, 6-1; 10 strikeouts), Cory Malcom (5, S, 2; 7 strikeouts) and Adam Raifsnider; Parker Devenney (L, 3-6), Justin Oley (6) and Robert Asbury.
Central: Hits — Malcom 3, Jack Bernacchi 3, Kaleb DeFreese 2, Raifsnider, Matt Eppers, Riley Futterknecht, Austin McArt, Ronnie Hawkins. HR — Malcom. 3B — McArt, Hawkins. RBI — DeFreese 2, Malcom, Futterknecht, McArt, Hawkins. Runs — Futterknecht 3, Malcom 2, Tully, DeFreese, Bernacchi. SB — Eppers.
Memorial: Hits — Alex Brewers 2, Devenney, R. Asbury, Nathan Troutman. 3B — A. Brewers. 2B — A. Brewers, Devenney. RBI — Devenney 2. Runs — Troutman, A. Brewers. SB — A. Brewers, Daniel Asbury.
Umpires: Scott Siler, plate; Robert Bjorkland, first base; John Wright, third base.
Record: Memorial 10-20.