Sectional Baseball

Chargers win thriller to advance to championship


KOKOMO – North Montgomery’s Roman Utterback have yourself a game. 

The Charger senior scored on a wild pitch with no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Chargers an 8-7 walk-off victory over Western Thursday at Northwestern High School in the Class 3A Sectional 20 semi-final as the Chargers will now get the chance to play for the sectional title on Monday. On the previous play, Utterback had hit a triple down the right field line to put himself on third base. 

For the game Utterback was 2-for-3 at the plate and reached base all four times he batted. The senior shortstop scored three runs and pitched the last two innings to pick up the win.

Charger coach Matt Voorhees complimented Utterback after the game.

“Roman’s triple was big,” Voorhees said. “He had a great game and he, along with the others kept battling. He pitched well.”

The game was a rollercoaster as both teams kept battling back from deficits.

Western (22-5)  got on the board in the top of the first inning thanks to a ball that took a favorable bounce off the turf. On a 2-2 count, Panther Kyler Norman hit a ball that fell just in front of Charger second baseman Gage Edwards. The ball landed right in front of Edwards’ glove and actually bounced high off the turf and landed in the outfield. By the time a Charger got to the ball, Norman was standing on second base. 

Norman scored when Ryan Redman singled on the very next pitch to make the score 1-0 after the top of the first inning.

It did not take long for North Montgomery (19-7) to answer when senior Corbin Meadows hit a long sacrifice flyball to deep right field scoring Edwards from third base. Edwards had walked to get on base and moved to third on Ross Dyson’s first of two singles in the game.

North Montgomery starting pitcher Jarrod Kirsch recorded the only three up-three down inning in the second inning. The Charger ace pitched five innings and gave up only one earned run. 

In the bottom of the second inning, North scored on three consecutive hits after two outs. Kirsch recorded a single that drove in designated hitter Crew Cole giving the Chargers a 2-1 lead.

After being held scoreless in the fourth inning, Western took the lead 3-2 with two more runs. After a base on ball and a Charger error, the Panthers were able to take advantage and pushed  two runners across the plate.

In the bottom of the fourth inning it was the Chargers to regain the lead. Once again, the North scores occurred after two outs.  Utterback earned a walk and moved  to third on a single by Kirsch. The Chargers then pulled off a delayed double steal. Kirsch broke for second and beat the throw at second base, but, as soon as the Panther catcher threw to second, Utterback scampered home to tie the game. Kirsch scored when Edwards delivered a full count fast ball into centerfield to make the score 4-3.

The lead swung again when Western scored two more runs to regain a 5-4 lead in the fifth inning. 

Again, the Chargers answered the bell by scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.  North benefited from two walks, a hit batsman, a Panther error and Edwards 2-rbi single. When the dust settled, North Montgomery had a 7-5 lead.

Western tied the score in the top of the sixth inning. The Panthers scored two runs when Brady Comer reached first base on a dropped third strike to lead off the inning. Norman then was hit by a pitch. Ryan Redman singled to score Comer and Peyton DeWeese singled to score Norman. A 4-6-3 double play got North out of the inning. 

The score was 7-7 heading into the seventh inning after the Chargers failed to score in the sixth inning. There was drama in the inning as the Chargers had runners on second base and first base. Panther pitcher AJ Heimberger recorded two backward strikeouts to put the Charger threat to bed.

Utterback, who pitched the last two innings, was able to hold Western scoreless in the seventh inning setting up the senior’s heroics in the final inning.

“It was good baseball and when you have eight seniors you can win games like this,” Voorhees said. “We stayed calm, poised and played good baseball.”

The win puts North Montgomery into Monday’s 11 a.m. championship against Twin Lakes who defeated Northwestern 8-5 in Thursday’s second game.