ELKHART — It will be an all-Elkhart final at the Class 4A Elkhart Sectional baseball tournament.
On Saturday, May 25, No. 2 Central (27-1) beat Northridge 5-0 and Memorial (7-23) topped Warsaw 5-3 in eight innings at Memorial’s Charger Field.
The championship is scheduled for noon Monday, May 27.
Central beat Memorial 18-2 during the 2013 regular season.
Central 5, Northridge 0
Central right-hander Cory Malcom mixed his pitches and revved up his velocity to hold Northridge bats in check.
Malcom (9-0) surrendered three singles and struck out 11 with no walks. Northridge got just one runner past first base in the 1 hour, 26-minute contest. The University of Arkansas-Little Rock recruit threw just 70 pitches, according to Central head coach Steve Stutsman.
“That’s pretty darn efficient,” said Stutsman. “Malcom has a pretty good curveball and I didn’t think they could catch up with his fastball.”
Northridge coach Andrew Brabender, whose Raiders lost 7-0 to Central during the regular season with left-hander Riley Futterknecht on the mound for the Blazers, came away impressed with Malcom.
“Malcom was absolutely fantastic,” said Brabender. “We’ve got a really good hitting team. For him to do what he did is pretty impressive.”
Malcom faced 23 batters — two above the minimum with the help of a seventh-inning double play. Raider hits were singles by Blake Fry in the second inning, Steven Frye in the sixth and Shannon Baker (an infield hit) in the seventh.
Central, which went scoreless in the first four innings against Northridge right-hander Blake Fry (8-1), scored one run in the fifth inning and four more in the sixth.
In the Blazers fifth, Casey Ianigro singled, stole second, moved to third on a Austin McArt sacrifice and tallied the game’s first run on a single by No. 8 hitter Devin Prater.
Central sent nine hitters to the plate in the sixth. Tanner Tully doubled and scored on a Kaleb DeFreese single. DeFreese scored on a Malcom double. Malcom scored on a Futterknecht groundout. Matt Eppers reached base on a fielder’s choice and later came home on a McArt sacrifice fly.
“(My players) were more relaxed (than in a 3-0 win against Concord on Friday, May 24),” said Stutsman. “They played like themselves.”
Left-hander Tully fanned 14 batters against Concord Friday, meaning Central pitchers have 25 strikeouts in two tournament games so far.
Brabender, who was an assistant for three seasons at Central at the beginning of his Elkhart County coaching career, used the Blazers as a motivating factor for his Raiders last winter and throughout the spring.
“We wanted to be in a ball game with them and best them,” said Brabender. “We knew it would take an A-plus effort.”
Brabender said he got that kind of effort if not the result he desired.
Graduation will take seven Raiders from a 25-4 team — Baker, Fry, Drew Burgess, Arick Doberenz, Alan Grusy, Brock Logan and Austin Moniot.
Memorial 5, Warsaw 3, 8 Innings
The Chargers came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Tigers, a team that had beaten Memorial 10-0 and 6-1 during the regular season.
“We’ve been struggling all year,” said Chargers coach Scott Rost. “But we’ve never died. We’ve never quit. We kept getting after it.”
Warsaw (12-15) scored one run in the third inning on an RBI double by lead-off man Justin Oberlin and two in the fourth on a two-run double by No. 8 hitter Michael Miller.
“We found a way to climb out of it,” said Rost, who saw Memorial pull even with three unearned runs in the top of the fifth inning. Brock Herman reached on an infield hit, Scottie Clark slashed a single and Cameron Maxwell reached on an error. Herman scored on an error, Clark came home on Trey Solomon’s suicide squeeze bunt and Maxwell scored on an errant throw.
The Chargers scored two time in the eighth when Solomon led off with a single and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Jake Tucker. Solomon’s slide around Tigers catcher Jared Lemler allowed him to beat the on-target throw by center fielder Shay Hepler.
Memorial tacked on another run when Robert Asbury walked and later came in on Warsaw’s third error of the game.
“We didn’t come out and execute the things that we practiced,” said Tigers coach Mike Hepler, who noted that his team turned two double plays but made fielding miscues at inopportune times. “We didn’t play our best baseball.”
Left-hander Tucker (2-7) went the distance on the mound for Memorial, fanning four, walking two and yielding eight hits (seven singles).
Central 5, Northridge 0
Central 000 014 0 — 5 8 0
Northridge 000 000 0 — 0 3 0
Cory Malcom (W, 9-0; 11 strikeouts) and Kyle Smith; Blake Fry (L, 8-1), Brock Logan (6) and Jake Baylis.
Central: Hits — Riley Futterknecht 2, Casey Ianigro 2. 2B — Malcom, Tanner Tully.
U — Adam Tomlinson, plate; Frank Tasler, first base; Steve Kajzer, third base. T — 1:26.
Records: Central 27-1, Northridge 25-4.
Memorial 5, Warsaw 3, 8 Inn.
Memorial 000 030 02 — 5 5 0
Warsaw 001 200 00 — 3 8 3
Jake Tucker (W, 2-7) and Robert Asbury; Jason Ferguson, Caleb Moneyheffer (8, L) and Jared Lemler.
Warsaw: Hits — Lemler 2, Michael Miller 2. 2B — Miller. RBI — Miller 2.
U — Frank Tasler, plate; Steve Kajzer, first base; Adam Tomlinson, third base. T — 1:54.
Records: Memorial 7-23, Warsaw 12-15.
Next: Central vs. Memorial in championship of Class 4A Elkhart Sectional at Memorial Monday, May 27, noon.