One win short of a state championship.
Warsaw knocked off defending state champion Portage 4-2 in the semifinals Saturday before falling 10-0 to South Bend in the title tilt late Saturday night.
The team, made up of players from Warsaw Community High School and Wawasee High School, made history by being the first state runner-up team from Warsaw Little League.
“The semifinal game was a very emotional win for us and unfortunately we were not able to carry it over to the championship game,” said Warsaw manager Dave Milligan. “The boys were disappointed in losing, but I think more disappointed that the next time they see each other it will be against each other instead of as teammates.
“It was an honor for me to coach these guys. It was just a lot of fun for everyone involved. The neat thing for me was how they all got along and how friendships blossomed. There was no dissension at all. They proved people wrong who said that you couldn’t have Warsaw guys and Wawasee guys on the same team. They all did a great job meshing together and playing their roles on the team.”
Warsaw beat defending state champion Portage 4-2 in the semifinals thanks to a great pitching performance by starter Gage Fannin and some outstanding defense. Warsaw led 2-1 in the fifth inning when center fielder Drew Anderson made a great catch to end the frame and snuff out a Portage scoring threat. The squad ended the contest on a tremendous 6-4-3 double play from Justin Oberlin to Fannin to Caleb Moneyheffer.
“Gage really hit his spots, changed speeds well and relied on his defense,” Milligan said of the Wawasee High School junior. “Our defense came up with a couple of great plays.”
Oberlin, the talented leadoff hitter, drove in two key runs in the sixth inning for Warsaw. Kyle Heckaman and Pat Navarro each had an RBI in the win. Caleb Heckaman relieved Fannin in the seventh and got the final two outs for the save.
Warsaw, which posted a 9-1 mark in District 14 tourney play and the State Finals, turned at least one double play in every game. The team’s slick-fielding infield made just five total errors in the 10 contests.
Members of the state runner-up squad were Justin Oberlin, Nik Anderson, Caleb Heckaman, Gage Fannin, Caleb Moneyheffer, Pat Navarro, Kyle Heckaman, Drew Anderson, Drew Milligan, Jon Murphy, Sam Silor and David Brown.
Milligan managed the team to its state runner-up finish, while Craig Fannin and Greg Oberlin were coaches.