The IHSBCA #2 Fishers Tigers Varsity Baseball team (27-7 / 15-3) played in 2 tough games in the Lafayette Regional on Saturday and walked away victorious in both becoming Regional Champions for the 1st time in school history.
In the morning Semi-Final game, the Tigers faced the Zionsville Eagles for the 4th time in the past 2 weeks. The Tigers swept the Eagles 3 games during the regular season series, but the Eagles came out swinging in the Regional scoring 2 runs in both the 1st and 2nd innings. JJ Woolwine led off the Tigers bottom of 1st with his 3rd leadoff homerun of the season and 4th homerun overall.
The Tigers found themselves down 4-1 heading into the bottom of the 3rd, and that is when the Tiger bats came alive. Woolwine and Craig Yoho started the inning with back-to-back singles. Grant Richardson worked a walk to load the bases in front of Kiel Brenczewski’s 2-run double to cut the deficit to 4-3 with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 0 outs. Richardson tied the score at 4 when he hustled and dove to score on a wild pitch that barely squirted away from the catcher. Alex Jamieson would give the Tigers a 5-4 lead with an RBI sacrifice fly to score courtesy runner Collin Shelton.
The Tigers extended their lead in the 4th with a 2-out RBI double from Richardson that scored Yoho from 1st.
Starter Luke Albright (7-2) settled in and stopped the Eagle’s explosive offense. The Eagles did not score in the 3rd and 4th innings and were able to push 1 more run across in the 5th to make the score 6-5. Pitching on his shortest rest of the year, Albright threw 5 innings allowing 5 runs on 9 hits while striking out 4. Matthew Wolff relieved Albright pitching 2 scoreless innings and retiring 6 of the 7 batters he faced for his 6th save of the year. Wolff struck out 2, including the final out to send the Tigers to the Regional Championship for the 2nd time in 2 years.
Woolwine and Yoho both had 2 hits in the game. Woolwine had the leadoff homerun and a single, and Yoho contributed a double and a single. Richardson, Brenczewski, and Jamieson each had a double of their own.
In the Regional Championship, the Tigers faced the Carroll Chargers. The Tigers scored 1 run in each of the 1st three innings, starting with Grant Richardson’s 2-out solo homerun to right centerfield in the 1st, his 3rd homerun of the season. Ben Burton delivered an RBI single in the 2nd to plate Nick Lukac who had reached on an error, and Kiel Brenczewski scored Craig Yoho with an RBI sacrifice fly in the 3rd inning.
The Chargers scored 1 run in the 1st and 2 more in both the 3rd and 5th to take a 5-3 lead into the 6th inning. The Tigers continued to show their fight like they have done all season. Jack Roudebush and Burton worked back-to-back walks to start the 6th inning. Pinch runner Tristan Baker and Burton would advance 1 base on a wild pitch to put runners at 2nd and 3rd. JJ Woolwine drove a ball to deep right field to score Baker on an RBI sacrifice fly and move Burton to 3rd as he tagged and advanced on the same play. Yoho would score Burton on the very next pitch with his own RBI sacrifice fly to tie the game at 5 and eventually send the game to extra innings.
Starter Grant Richardson, also pitching on his shortest rest of the year, settled in retiring the final 8 batters he faced before being lifted due to his pitch count. Richardson threw 7.1 innings, striking out 12 and allowing 4 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks.
The Tigers put pressure on the Chargers loading the bases with 1 out in both the 7th and 8th innings, but here unable to push a run across. Despite not scoring on offense, the Tiger pitchers and defense continued to retire the Chargers 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the frames.
And then it happened! The Tigers exploded for 7 runs in the 9th inning. After a fly out to start the inning, Roudebush walked and Burton was hit by a pitch. Woolwine followed with a hustle infield single to load the bases again. This time Yoho connected on the very first pitch for a 2-run single to left to give the Tigers a 7-5 lead. Woolwine and Yoho advanced to 2nd and 3rd on the throw to the plate. From there the rally had begun. Richardson followed with his own 2-run single. After a strikeout and a Matthew Wolff hit by pitch, Alex Jamieson hit the first pitch he saw for a 3-run homerun over the left field fence, and the Tigers were ahead 12-5.
All they needed now was 3 outs, and Wolff who relieved Richardson in the 8th would take care of that. Wolff struck out 2 in the 9th sandwiched around a groundout. The last strikeout prompted another Tiger dogpile as they celebrated the school’s 1st Regional Championship and Final Four appearance.
Wolff (3-1) earned the victory in relief retiring all 5 batters he faced, including 3 strikeouts. Richardson and Wolff combined to retire the final 13 straight Charger batters.
Offensively, Richardson delivered 4 hits for the Tigers, including his homerun. Woolwine, Wolff, and Burton all contributed 2 hits. Jamieson added the homerun to seal the game, and Roudebush had a double. Yoho, Richardson, and Jamieson all had 3 RBIs.
The Tigers will now play Chesterton in the Semi-State on Saturday June 9th with the winner advancing to the State Championship game at Victory Field. The Semi-State game will either be played in Kokomo or Plymouth.