WARSAW – The last time the Wawasee baseball team swept a season series from Warsaw, well, as those on Twitter might say, “Only 90’s kids will remember.”
It was 1997 and the Warriors completed a 3-1 win in the sectional title against the Tigers, their third win over their rivals that season. The Warriors rolled into Tiger Town Wednesday evening and brought the brooms with them for the first time since that ’97 season on their way to a 14-1 win in six innings.
“We needed it,” Wawasee head coach Brent Doty stated. “After last year starting 0-7 and then this year starting 1-6, it really drains on you.”
The Warriors spent most of their time draining the pitching staff of Warsaw in Wednesday’s contest. The Tigers used five pitchers and gave up 13 earned runs on 11 hits while striking outs just one Wawasee batter, that was credited to Tiger starter Jake Witt during his four and two-thirds innings of work.
Warrior fans have been waiting for a complete game to come from their team all season in NLC play and that finally happened against the Tigers. The combination of all three phases, hitting, pitching and defense, allowed the Warriors to break the game open in the sixth inning.
Wawasee scored 10 runs in the top of the frame to open up the 14-1 lead, allowing for the 10-run rule to come into play. Walks and one batter hit led to four of the runs in the inning for the Warriors, but after a slow start Wawasee made a habit of hitting the ball in the right spots from the third inning on.
Wawasee scored first, crossing the plate once in the third and fourth innings and twice more in the fifth to build a 4-0 lead. Warsaw got one run back in the bottom of the fifth as Cole Baker scored on an RBI from Henry Howard. But that was the only damage the Tigers could do to Wawasee starter Lucas Garza.
Garza struck out two and gave up four hits in five and one-third innings of work. Garza also added two RBIs on a team-high three hits. The junior has not seen the mound much due to a crowded Warrior staff but when given the chance, Garza has impressed.
“We just had to get all three of those phases working tonight and we did that,” said Doty. “We had a great pitching performance from Lucas Garza, you really can’t say enough about that. Then we had solid defense and timely hitting.”
Drew Anderson and Brett Carson led Wawasee with three RBIs each, Nik Anderson added a pair while Kurtis Liston, Aaron Beer, Caleb Dingeldein and Gage Reinhard all had one RBI. Nine different Warriors scored runs against the Tigers with three players leading the team in two runs scored each.
There was not doubt that this effort is the one Doty has been waiting all season to see.
“This is what we’ve been building to,” Doty remarked. “I’ve said it a lot lately, but if we put all three phases together we can be dangerous. We just need to be solid, we don’t have to be perfect.”
Warsaw was led offensively by Ryan Marshall’s two hits. Marselo Rodriguez, Tyler LaFollette and Brad Christenberry all had one hit for the Tigers.
Warsaw head coach Mike Hepler declined to comment following the game.
Wawasee (7-7, 2-6) has taken the first step in trying to finish the NLC season strong and will look to continue that with a trip to Elkhart Memorial Friday night. Warsaw (5-10, 3-5) will host Huntington North Thursday evening.
Wawasee’s junior varsity forced a split in the seasons series with Warsaw with a 5-3 win in 11 innings at Boggs Park. Jordan Steffensmeier led the Warsaw JV with three hits while Gavin Barker had three hits for the Warriors.