Daily Journal correspondent
Solid in all phases, Whiteland cruised to a 9-1 win at Franklin on Tuesday in a first-round game of the Johnson County Baseball Tournament.
The Warriors benefited from efficient pitching and timely hitting and took advantage of six Franklin errors.
Whiteland (6-15) now takes on second-seeded Greenwood in a Saturday morning semifinal at Center Grove.
Senior pitcher Caleb Dieter scattered four hits and struck out seven Grizzly Cubs to earn the win.
Offensively, the Warriors had seven hits, including four in the sixth inning — coupled with two Franklin errors — that led to a five runs and put Whiteland firmly in control.
“Any time we play Franklin, it’s going to be battle, and it always feels good to beat them,” Warriors coach Scott Sherry said. “We were able to scratch through and take advantage of a couple of their miscues, which helped.
“Hopefully, now we’re back on the winning side.”
It took a couple of innings for the Warriors to get going, scoring five unearned runs on Franklin errors.
Meanwhile, Franklin had trouble getting baserunners and hits.
“Wasn’t a good night for us,” Franklin coach Ryan Feyerabend said. “We strand (a runner early) there, and that kind of set the tone for the night.
“We weren’t sharp.”
Whiteland was, especially in the pivotal sixth inning.
The Warriors batted around the order and had four singles, one of them a two-run shot by junior Ricky Ramey.
Whiteland was led at the plate by freshman Luke Helton, who had two singles, two runs and an RBI. Senior Matthias Ebeyer had a single, an RBI and two runs.
Dylan Drybread had a single and the Cubs only RBI of the game in the sixth inning.
“Caleb is a bulldog,” Sherry said. “He throws strikes, and when he’s on the mound, we can compete with anybody.”
Feyerabend said the Cubs need to forget this game as they play Plainfield today for a shot at the Mid-State Conference championship.
“We don’t have too long to sulk about this one,” Feyerabend said. “We have to get right back and forget about this one.”