Sectional Baseball

Chargers battle with No. 4 Panthers in season finale


KOKOMO – Coming into Wednesday’s 3A sectional at Northwestern all the pregame talk from the coaches was that the game between 3A #4 Western and North Montgomery would be a pitchers dual. That is exactly what happened, however the Panthers were able to score twice to win the game 2-0.

University of Louisville commit Mitchell Dean shut down every Charger opportunity to score and North’s Jared Kirsch battled for six innings to keep his team within striking distance.

“I thought we battled well against Dean, who is a really good pitcher,” Charger coach Matt Voorhees said. “We had 12 strikeouts that is expected against Dean, however we battled at the plate all night.”

Western scored their first run in the second inning by recording the only consecutive hits that either team would have. Panther Christian Downall, Brett Ellenberger and Cade Fepp hit balls just past the Charger infield. Epp’s hit scored Powell to put Western in the lead 1-0.

The Panthers almost scored another run in the fourth inning with the bases loaded, with two outs Cayden McClue stroked a short single in front of Charger center fielder Ross Dyson. Dyson was able to throw a strike to catcher Dylan Braun who tagged the runner out at the plate keeping the score 1-0.

In the bottom of the fourth inning North Montgomery threatened to score. With runners on third and second, Dean was able to record one of his 12 strikeouts to end the inning. 

The Chargers had an opportunity to score in the fifth inning when Kirsch doubled in the fourth but was stranded. The key play in quarter was provided by Panther second baseman Mitchell Kneply who was holding Kirsch on at second. North’s Ross Dyson hit a ball that looked like it would land behind second base and score Kirsch. However, because Kneply was holding Kirsch, he was able to dive and catch Dyson’s hit ball to close out the inning.

“Western is a good ball club,” Voorhees said. “They were ranked first to start the season and never got lower than fourth. They stroke the ball well and play good defense.”

Kirsch left the mound in the final inning with bases loaded. Junior Austin Sulc took over on the mound with no outs. Western scored on a wild pitch for their second run but Sulc was able to stop the bleeding with a strikeout, and two fly balls.

The Chargers were able to being the tying run to the plate in the final inning. Sulc singled but the next two batters were retired.

Kirsch, the Charger ace, gave up two earned runs on eight hits and walked four Panthers. 

Kirsch had one of four hits for North with a double. Sulc, Brookes Walters and Roman Utterback had the other Charger hits. 

Dean entered the game with a .600 batting average but the Charger hurlers held him to no hits in the game.

Dean pitched a complete game while walking just two and striking out 12.

With the loss, Voorhees says goodbye to six seniors in Brookes Walters, Dylan Braun, Brecken Hardy, Gage Galloway, Thomas Laffoon, and Maely Gaskin. After the game he complemented each one, not only for their success and contributions on the baseball diamond, but also for being good people, good in the class room and good leaders.

“This senior class will be missed because they have done so much for our program,” Voorhees said. “Every one of the seniors have bright futures ahead of them. We talk about love a lot in our program, and I can truly say these seniors are loved by our players and coaches.”