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May 31, 2013

H.S. BASEBALL: Dragons expect a battle against top-ranked Jasper at regional

Red Devils not looking past Franklin in Class 4A Reitz Regional

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — The Silver Creek baseball team pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the Class 3A state tournament last year when it defeated perennial power Jasper in the Class 3A Jasper Regional at Ruxer Field, 4-1.

But on Saturday when the teams have their rematch in the Class 3A Jasper Regional semifinals, Dragons’ coach Joe Decker expects a spirited battle against the top-ranked Wildcats (29-3), who are looking to pay back Class 3A No. 4 Silver Creek (23-7) at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Gibson Southern (19-9) will play Franklin County (22-3) in the second semifinal at about 1 p.m. The championship will be at 8 p.m. at Ruxer Field.

Decker says Jasper has had scouts at his team’s games the past two weeks.

“They’re gunning for us,” said Decker, whose team lost to the Wildcats earlier this season in the Jasper Tournament 6-2. “Either [last year’s upset victory] is going to help us or really hurt us.”

Even though the Wildcats are motivated to get revenge against the Dragons, Silver Creek is just as inspired to show that last year’s regional victory was no fluke. Decker has been trying to motivate his players this week after several Jasper players stated in a handful of newspaper articles that they were prepared to avenge last season’s regional loss.

“If we can go down to their place and beat them twice, it will tell them that we’re for real. Last year’s experience helped our team build confidence for this season,” Decker said. “Jasper is a little different than they have been in the past. They don’t bunt as much and they rely more on pitching and defense. They are always fundamentally sound. They’re not going to beat themselves.”

Decker plans on sending Lucas Barnett, his No. 1 pitcher, to the mound against the Wildcats. The senior right-hander improved to 7-3 on Monday in Silver Creek’s 13-1 victory in six innings over Charlestown in the Class 3A North Harrison Sectional final. It was the Dragons’ third consecutive sectional championship.

Barnett tossed a complete-game three-hitter in Silver Creek’s regional win over the Wildcats last season.

“When he’s on, I think we can beat anybody,” Decker said.

If the Dragons knock off Jasper again, Decker hopes they will be more focused to win the regional title this time around. Silver Creek could not carry the momentum from its surprise win over the Wildcats in last year’s regional, as it lost to Greensburg in the regional championship game, 7-0.

“We were fortunate to win that game [against Jasper] last year, but we’ve got to be mentally focused for the second game,” Decker said. “We’ve been trying to prepare them to win two games this year.”

Silver Creek will be vying for its first regional championship in program history on Saturday.

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