In a pressure-packed spot, Roncalli senior right-fielder Will Harris’ dream ending became a reality.
“Earlier in the game, I hadn’t been hitting as well as I would have liked,” said Harris, who was hitting in the No. 7 spot and hitless in his first three trips.
“They intentionally walked a guy and put all the pressure on me. That’s what you dream about. Going up in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, and you dream about being the one to get that hit. That’s what it ended up being and it was awesome.”
Harris narrowly beat out an infield single as the winning run scored in the Rebels’ 3-2 victory against Class 4A No. 1 Zionsville (30-5-1) in nine innings Friday night in the state championship game at Victory Field.
It was the first state title in baseball for Roncalli (23-9), which lost in the state final in the single-class system in 1982 and in the 4A final in 2012.
“This brings me back to the semistate championship in football when we didn’t make it and that drove me more to take it home in baseball,” said Harris, who played slot receiver.
“It was awesome. it was the best feeling to watching all these Roncalli Rebels swarm on top of me.”
Harris, a Greenwood resident, said he didn’t know if it would be a hit.
“I just knew I made contact and I was running as fast as I could to make it first base,” he said. “I made it before the ball and we got that run home.”
With the bases loaded, Harris hit a high hopper that both the Zionsville shortstop and third baseman went to field.
“They kind of slightly collided and made the third baseman hesitate on the throw and allowed him to be safe,” Roncalli coach Aaron Kroll said. “Will did a great job putting the ball in play with two strikes.”
Harris said the Rebels remained confident in the game with several momentum shifts.
“There were a few plays where we hung our heads,” Harris said. “We’re a good team that has good team chemistry. We know we have each others’ back if we fail or succeed. That’s how we’ve been the whole season. It showed in the ninth inning of this game and now we’re state champs.”
The Rebels’ other starter from Greenwood, senior left fielder Blake Chitwood, played a key role, as well.
Chitwood, who singled earlier in the game, walked during the winning rally in the ninth.
The Rebels started the season with a 6-5 record.
“We set up a really tough schedule on purpose for moments like this,” Kroll said. “We took some lumps early, but it paid off and made us tougher. It made us resilient. It enabled us to come through in big spots like (Friday night).
“It seems like it was meant to be. We lost so many games early like that — one-run games late, one-run games in extra innings. We learned from it, we got tougher as a group.
Rebels senior starting right-hander Michael McAvene, who has committed to Louisville, allowed five hits and two runs. He gave up a single to the first batter in the eighth before being lifted.
Conrad Daniel (6-0) relieved and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth.
“McAvene was outstanding,” Kroll said. “He pretty much had everything working. He was over 100 pitches and you could tell he was getting tired. We went with Conrad and he did a phenomenal job. He was hitting his spots and his curveball was working well.”