Braves’ comeback bid in baseball regional falls short

INDIANAPOLIS

The Indian Creek High School baseball team has doubled its number of sectional titles in the past two seasons.

That experience will be a boost to the returning players, Braves coach Eddie Willis said.

“We still have four really good pitchers next year,” Willis said, referring to Jared DeHart, Trevor Ankney, Dylan Sprong and Dustin Sprong.

The Braves finished 14-8-1 after being edged by Tri-West 3-2 in the Class 3A regional semifinals Saturday afternoon at Brebeuf Jesuit.

“It literally didn’t fall for us,” Willis said.

The Bruins, who lost to 3A No. 4 Northview 3-1 in the evening’s championship game, scored three runs on two hits, two walks, and a wild pitch by DeHart in the top of the first inning.

“I really believed in DeHart. He’s usually our guy, just a slow start,” Willis said. “We spotted them three runs and against this team it’s tough to come back from. I think it was just first-inning jitters. They hit the ball and we weren’t ready for it, and DeHart doesn’t usually make the wild pitch that let one run in.”

With the Braves trailing 3-1, Ankney came on in the fourth inning to relieve DeHart with no outs and runners on second and third. Ankney, who got out of the jam with the help of two strikeouts, finished with six strikeouts in three scoreless innings.

Braves senior first baseman Eric Braughton led off the second inning with a home run.

“It’s not my type of play to hit it out, but it just happened,” said Braughton of his second homer of the season. “It was just perfect timing. It sent a spark to us and I thought it was going to help a ton, but we came up short.”

In the fifth, Indian Creek closed the deficit to one. Sophomore Cody Grider doubled, and pinch runner Mendel Shank later scored on a groundout by senior Max Walls.

With two outs in the seventh, Grider singled and Shank stole second and and reached third on a throwing error, but Tri-West’s Mason Cox came in to get the final out.

In addition to Braughton and Walls, the Braves lose three other seniors, Noah Remsburg, Jeremy Lee and Reilley Johnson.

“Looking at the progress the last two years, it’s looking good,” said Braughton, who will play at Indiana Wesleyan next season. “We have kids like Trevor Ankney, who can learn the team to further places with the experience.”

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Mark Ambrogi is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.