The 2017 season has been full of ups and downs for the Whiteland baseball team, and Monday was no different.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, Martinsville had just a few more ups. The Artesians rallied for a pair of sixth-inning runs and then held off a Whiteland comeback bid in the seventh for a 5-3 triumph in the championship game of the Class 4A Franklin Sectional.
The Warriors finish the season at 14-14.
“We needed a ball in play or two here or there and I think it’s a different game, but they got out of it,” Whiteland coach Scott Sherry said.
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After falling into a 2-0 hole in the top of the first, Whiteland got one run back in the bottom of the inning when Chase Bennett walked, took second on a Jake Holzhausen single, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Leistner. Bennett then put the Warriors in front with a two-out, two-run double in the second that plated Austin Cook and Iyan Pelfree.
Momentum stalled for Whiteland when it left the bases loaded in the third, and Martinsville starter Michael Hoppel kicked into high gear. He escaped the third with a pair of strikeouts, then fanned three straight Warriors in the fifth to keep the score at 3-3 going into the final two innings.
The Artesians reclaimed the upper hand with two runs in the sixth, the Warriors had the makings of a rally in the bottom of the seventh when Pelfree led off with a walk and Bennett followed with a base hit to right field. Martinsville hurler Michael Hoppel retired the next three Whiteland hitters, though, to close out the game.
Sherry was proud of his team for not packing it in after losing 10 of 12 to close the regular season. The county champs regrouped and defeated Center Grove in the sectional opener before thumping Franklin Central 10-2 in Monday’s first semifinal.
“Resilient kids; they battled back and believed at the end,” Sherry said. “We played two great games to get here, and we played a pretty good game here (in the final) and just couldn’t come through.”
The Artesians had reached the title game by sneaking past Greenwood 6-4 in the second semifinal.
The Woodmen (8-17-1) had taken a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth when Dylan Rosado tripled and came in on an infield hit by Jordan Martin. But the Artesians tied it in the top of the sixth and then tacked on three more runs in the seventh, capitalizing on a trio of Greenwood errors.
Despite loading the bases with nobody out in their last at-bat, the Woodmen managed just one more run another Martin single.
“Those are just mental things that you can’t have in a game like this,” Greenwood coach Andy Bass said. “When you’re in a situation where it’s one and done, those things will kill you — and today, they killed us. I liked the fact that we fought until the end, but I felt like we kind of gave that one to them.”
The Warriors grabbed the upper hand in Monday’s opener by jumping all over Franklin Central starter Jeremy Knott in the second inning. Leistner drew a leadoff walk and Luke Helton reached on a single with one out before Rickey Ramey got hold of a 0-1 pitch and launched it well over the left-field fence onto the JV diamond. Consecutive two-out doubles by Pelfree and Bennett, followed by a throwing error, pushed two more runs across to make it 5-0.
Whiteland effectively put it away with three runs in the third, and winning pitcher Tyler Robinson cruised the rest of the way, striking out 10 and allowing just two runners to advance past second base.
Saturday’s regional games
Class 3A North Montgomery Regional
Tri-West vs. Indian Creek, 11 a.m.
Championship, 7 p.m.
Class A Morristown Regional
Indianapolis Lutheran vs. Edinburgh, 1 p.m.
Championship, 7 p.m.