The Roncalli High School baseball team captured its first baseball state title in dramatic fashion.

With two outs in the ninth inning, Will Harris barely was safe on a bases-loaded infield single to give the Rebels a 3-2 victory against Class 4A No. 1 Zionsville in extra innings in the Class 4A state final in front of a Victory Field crowd of 6,799, a state record for the Friday night state finals session.

The Rebels (23-9 entering the game) had tied it at 2-all on Nick Schnell’s run-scoring triple in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Roncalli scored in the bottom of the ninth when Jake Franklin singled.

Zionsville relief pitcher Jack Pilcher got two outs before walking Blake Chitwood. The runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch. After an intentional walk, Harris, from Greenwood, delivered the game-winner.

Zionsville had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Nolan Ellsbury was hit by a pitch, took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a ground ball. Nick Prather followed with a run-scoring single.

In the fifth, Pilcher hit a fly ball to deep right center that Roncalli center fielder Schnell ran down to make a nice catch. Riley Bertram was hit by a pitch but was thrown out by Rebels catcher Cody Smith when he tried to steal second.

Roncalli tied the score in the bottom of fifth when Cody Smith walked. Dylan Williams doubled. Brian Keeney, pinch running for Smith, scored on a wild pitch.

The Eagles regained the lead at 2-1 in the top of the sixth on a single by Jacob Hurtubise. Rebels third baseman Robbie Strader threw wildly to first on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Ellsbury, and Hurtubise reached third and then scored on a wild pitch.

Roncalli tied it on the sixth when Hayden Harper walked and scored on Schnell’s triple off relief pitcher James Meyer.

The Rebels threatened in second inning when Chitwood, from Greenwood, reached on an infield single and took second on wild throw by catcher. Williams singled and Chitwood rounded third base but was then thrown out when he tried to get back to third.

Starter Michael McAvene went seven innings for the Rebels, giving up six hits. He was lifted in top of the eighth after Zionsville’s Riley Bertram singled to lead off. Conrad Daniel relieved and committed a balk, allowing Bertram to reach second.

This was Zionsville’s first appearance in the state championship game.

It was the third state championship game appearance for Roncalli.

The Rebels also lost to LaPorte 7-1 in 1982 in the single-class system and to Lake Central 1-0 in Class 4A title game in XXXX. Center Grove coach Keith Hatfield was then the Rebels’ coach.

Roncalli advanced by beating Center Grove 8-5 in eight innings a week ago in the Plainfield Semistate.

Author photo
Mark Ambrogi is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.