LAPORTE — Nick DeFreese has been an impact player for the Concord Minutemen for the past three seasons.
The senior shortstop/pitcher wasn't going to let aches and pains keep him away from the field if he could help it even though his appearance at the LaPorte Regional Saturday, June 7, was in serious doubt.
"It was almost 75 percent sure at the beginning of this week that I was not going to play," said DeFreese, who started a short and drove in Stephen Pinarski (on with a double) with Concord's first run in the first inning of a 5-2 loss to Lake Central. "I dosed up on ibuprofen and gutted it up. I didn't want to miss the last few games of my high school career."
DeFreese noted the junior Brenden Curry spent the whole week leading up to the regional in the athletic trainer's room with various ailments and was able to start on the mound in the regional.
But pain did not allow him to last long as he walked five and hit a batter while striking out three before coming out of the game one out into the second inning. Matt Williams worked the last 5 2/3 innings and kept the Indians off-balance while giving up two-out, two-run hits to Brenden Seren in the fourth inning and Alec Olund in the fifth.
"BC just didn't have it," said DeFreese. "Matt came in and battled it out. He did really well.
"The right batters came up at the right time. Olund, he's a stud."
It was a game that featured diving catches from several Minutemen — center fielder Duncan Boone, second baseman Zack Stauffer, left fielder Brett Austin and right fielder Jarrod Beverly.
Concord (15-16) came a long way in 2014. After starting with high expectations, the Minutemen were inconsistent much of the regular season and took a 12-15 mark into the postseason. Then Concord took it first sectional crown since 2009 and then hung tough with traditional powerhouse and eventual regional champion Lake Central. The Indians are just two years removed from the state championship.
"I was almost giving up on the team," said DeFreese. "Then we actually started getting some heart from all the seniors and we started going at it.
"The (Elkhart Sectional) run was great (with wins against Elkhart Central, Elkhart Memorial and Warsaw). Even with this loss (to Lake Central), we feel really good about it."
Graduation took five starters from Saturday's regional game — Boone, DeFreese, Pinarski, Williams (who started at second) and Brett Neveraski — plus Jake Boyer, Josh Hudnall,Trevor Wilmore and Drew Wysong.
Juniors that played included Austin, Beverly, Curry, Stauffer, Jake Vernon.