SOUTH BEND — How clutch has No. 2-ranked Elkhart Central been during the postseason baseball tournament run to the Class 4A state championship game?
In six wins, the Blue Blazers (31-1) have scored 22 runs and five have come with two outs — two in the Elkhart Sectional opener against Concord, one in the sectional final against Memorial and two in the South Bend Semistate against Lafayette Jeff.
Seniors Cory Malcom and Riley Futterknecht drove in the fifth-inning two-out runs that beat Jeff 2-1 and secured a place opposite co-No. 2 Indianapolis Cathedral (28-0) at approximately 7 p.m. Saturday, June 15, at Victory Field in Indianapolis.
Against Memorial, it was senior Kaleb DeFreese driving in a two-out run in the fourth inning of a 3-1 win.
Against Concord, seniors Mike Namisnak and Tanner Tully rapped two-out run-scoring singles in the second frame of a 3-0 triumph.
Casey at the bat
Senior second baseman Casey Ianigro, who has been hitting sixth in the batting order, has hit safely in five of Central’s six tournament games and had 10 of the Blazers’ 48 hits.
Shortstop/pitcher Malcom, pitcher/right fielder Tully and senior third baseman/shortstop Austin McArt have six hits each while first baseman/pitcher Futterknecht and left fielder DeFreese have five apiece
With four hits each are center fielder Eppers and designated hitter/first baseman Namisnak. Junior outfielder Jesse Zepeda has picked up a pair of hits.
Ianigro, Malcom and Tully all have hits in five postseason games. McArt, Futterknecht, DeFreese, Eppers and Namisnak each have hits in four.
Tully and Namisnak have driven in three runs apiece while DeFreese, Futterknecht, Ianigro, Malcom and McArt have all plated two and Zepeda one.
Tully, the team’s lead-off hitter, has scored five of the team’s 22 postseason runs. McArt has tallied four, followed by DeFreese and Ianigro with three each, Eppers and Malcom with two apiece and Futterknecht and Namisnak one each.
Saturday’s win against Jeff continued a tournament trend for the Blue Blazers.
The fifth inning is where Central has scored its most postseason runs with five, followed by the second, third and sixth with four each, first with three and fourth and eighth with one. The Blazers have yet to score in the seventh in the three times they have batted in that stanza.
Racking up the Ks
When Tully fanned 11 Lafayette Jeff Bronchos in the semistate win, it pushed Central’s tournament strikeout total to 68 — 33 for Tully, 22 for Malcom, 13 for Futterknecht.
Central has left 43 runners on base so far in the postseason, including 18 in scoring position (second or third base).
Opponents have stranded 27 — 17 in scoring position.