New Washington got a favorable draw and found itself playing two-time defending sectional champion South Central for the Class A South Central Sectional title Monday.
The Mustangs had their chances in the early going against the No. 8 Rebels. But in the end, the hosts took their fourth consecutive sectional crown with a five-inning, 10-0 victory at Donald L. Dones Field.
The Mustangs had several early opportunities to put a scare into the favorites, who knocked off Borden and Lanesville en route to the championship game. In the first, second, third and fifth innings, New Wash got two runners on. In the first, second and fifth, the Mustangs had two on with fewer than two outs.
“We had our chances early,” New Washington coach Scott Matthews said.
James Clemons led off the first with a single and South Central starter Cory Ray walked Mustang catcher Joe Kehrwald with none out. After Lane Johnson sacrificed the runners ahead a base, Ray struck out Zach Hagan and got Corgan Wampler to pop out.
The Rebels took the lead for good by scoring three runs with two outs in the first on RBIs by Parker Gabhart, Alex Goforth and Jack Turner.
In the second, Zach Moore reached on an error and Cameron Brunnemer singled to put Mustangs on first and second with one out. However, Ray struck out Travis McKim and Clemons to end the threat.
In the third, singles by Lane Johnson and Wampler gave New Wash another chance to cut into the three-run deficit. But Ray struck out Miles Matthews to end the frame.
The Rebels added a run in the third inning on a Goforth RBI single that scored Austin Knear and another in the fourth when Nick Veith scored on one of three Mustang errors.
New Washington tried to get back into the game in the fifth when Kehrwald and Johnson opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Nathan Shaffer relieved Ray and induced Hagan into a double play. Miles Matthews popped up for the Mustangs’ final out.
After an errors and a walk to Jack Turner, New Washington starter Nathan Brison was relieved by Jesse Clemons, whose first pitch was belted for a two-RBI double by Shaffer. After two walks, Knear ended the contest with an RBI single.
Brison officially gave up seven runs, but Coach Matthews liked the way his pitcher battled.
“I thought Brison threw a heck of a game for us,” the third-year New Wash manager said.
Brison is one of many key players expected to return for the Mustangs next season. New Wash loses just a couple of starters to graduation — with three sophomores and two freshmen in the lineup — and hopes to challenge for sectional championships in the future.
“It was a good experience for these young kids playing in a championship game,” Matthews said. “I’m pleased with the way we played. We just had a little bit of bad luck. Hopefully, it won’t be the last time we get the opportunity.”
Johnson went 2-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt for New Wash. Moore and Brunnemer each reached base twice.
South Central, which will play 10-15 Tecumseh in the first round of the Loogootee Regional on Saturday, got a 3-for-4 performance from Knear. Also for the Rebels, Goforth was 2-for-3 and scored twice and Ray had a pair of hits.
CLASS A SOUTH CENTRAL SECTIONAL
SOUTH CENTRAL 10, NEW WASHINGTON 0
New Wash 000 00— 0 7 3
S. Central 301 15—10 11 2
W — Cory Ray. L — Nathan Brison. 2B — Alex Goforth (S), Nate Shaffer (S).