SOUTH WHITLEY – The Wawasee baseball team finally ran out of magic on Saturday afternoon. A team that had made a habit of playing close games and sealing walk-off wins during the regular season met its match in a very strong Fairfield team in the semifinal round of the IHSAA Sectional 21 Baseball Tournament at Whitko High School.
The Falcons scored six runs in the top of the second inning to take control of the game and ultimately end Wawasee’s season with an 8-5 victory.
“It’s a different game if we get rid of that one defensive inning there in the second,” said first-year Wawasee head coach Brent Doty. “But you can’t discredit what our guys did out there, they played 100-percent the whole time.”
Doty’s boys were certainly fired up from the first pitch through the rest of the game, but after the second inning that Fairfield assembled, it would have been hard for any team to get back on its feet.
The Falcons forced out Wawasee starting pitcher Nate Hare with just one out on the board. Wawasee held a 3-1 lead to enter the inning, but watched Fairfield tie it up before Tony Zook but the exclamation mark on the inning with a grand slam, putting the Falcons up for good. Errors killed the Warriors in the inning but Wawasee refused to give up or give in.
Facing a 7-3 deficit, Wawasee showed some life in the bottom of the second when Caleb Dingeldein picked up an RBI single, scoring Brett Carson. The bats quieted down for both teams until Ben Hunley was brought home on an RBI from Zac Kropf to put Fairfield up 8-4 in the fifth.
Drew Anderson crossed the plate in the bottom of the seventh for Wawasee, but that was the last of the
Warrior magic for 2014 as Fairfield would close out the Warriors and claim a spot in Monday’s championship game.
Anderson scored twice for Wawasee while Dingeldein, Drew Wright and Carson all scored once. Gage Reinhard led Wawasee with two RBIs.
Zook led Fairfield with four RBIs. Andrew Bobeck picked up the win, pitching all seven innings and recording five strikeouts.
“I wouldn’t trade my guys for anything,” Doty stated. “They battled today and they’ve battled all year. Three times we had walk-off wins, that’s just a testament to those kids. It’s nothing we coaches ever said or did, it’s just those kids. They are hard-nosed, hard working kids that I am very proud of.
“Our seniors have laid the foundation this year and have done it well. They will get to look back and see the positive effect they have had on this program. I’m very excited about the future.”
While the 2014 campaign ended on a sour note for Wawasee, the Warriors still have a few things to hang their hat on. This season Wawasee snapped a 19-game conference losing streak, earned double-digit wins for the first time since 2009 and won its first sectional contest since 2010. Wawasee will lose five players to graduation but return a nice crop of players that played a significant amount of time on the varsity roster.