It seemed fitting Whiteland Community High School athletics director Ken Sears was wearing a baseball uniform Saturday.
Sears, subbing for an assistant coach, also was in uniform the last time the Warriors won a Johnson County Tournament championship in 1977.
“I was a junior on that team,” Sears said.
Forty years later, the Warriors did it again, topping defending champion Center Grove, 6-2, in the championship game at Center Grove High School.
“We always talk about it as one of our goals,” Warriors coach Scott Sherry said of winning the county title. “We’ve had opportunities in the past and didn’t come through.
“(Saturday) we took advantage of some of their mistakes and just stayed on it. We put pressure on them all day. We got some clutch hits.”
Warriors senior pitcher Tyler Robinson struck out seven, allowing three walks and three hits in 6 1/3 innings.
“Tyler did what seniors should do, battle and compete,” Sherry said. “He mixed in different pitches and kept them off-balanced.”
Robinson said he felt confident.
“My curveball was working well and and my fastball, too, so that helped,” Robinson said. “(My teammates) really helped me out, especially on those well-hit balls in the outfield.”
The Warriors, who scored one run in the first and two in the third, led 5-0 after four innings.
“We knew they were going to put pressure on us eventually,” Sherry said. “We just had to keep grinding away and having good at-bats.”
The Trojans (2-3) helped the Warriors by making too many mistakes.
“We walked too many guys, had six errors, had too many strikeouts,” Center Grove coach Keith Hatfield said. “(Robinson) commanded the game really well, but we let him get comfortable because we took so many pitches. We’ll get better but we have to start swinging the bat a little bit, too.”
Junior Corey Daffron had two singles and a double to account for three of the Trojans’ five hits.
The Trojans scored a run in the fifth on Ryan Sauter’s RBI double. In the top of the seventh, the Trojans scored a run and loaded the bases, before Whiteland’s Luke Helton struck out the final two batters.
Whiteland senior left fielder Bailey Watson contributed two run-scoring singles and had a crucial catch, hauling in a deep fly. Sophomore Iyan Pelfree also had a run-scoring single for the Warriors.
“We usually never beat Center Grove, so with this I think our confidence is going to go far this season,” Watson said. “Any time anyone was down, we just picked each other up no matter what and made sure they fixed what they did wrong.”
Robinson said leadership has been key to the Warriors’ success.
“It really shows in games like (Saturday),” Robinson said.
Whiteland advanced by edging Franklin, 2-1, behind winning pitcher Nick Carrizales in Saturday’s semifinals.
Center Grove advanced by beating Greenwood, 3-2. Garrett Hill had two-run homer in the three-fun fourth inning for the Trojans.