Senior staff writer
Roncalli’s baseball team is growing accustomed to having a target on its backs as defending 4A state champions.
The Rebels continued their title defense Monday by defeating Southport 5-1 for their third sectional trophy since moving up to 4A in 2012. Earlier Monday, Roncalli shut out Perry Meridian 6-0 behind pitcher Colton Panaranto, who allowed only four hits and struck out 12.
“Every team we have played brings their best against us,” Roncalli coach Aaron Kroll said. “Southport certainly did that (because) they didn’t give up. They kept fighting. In most games we have been able to respond. You get this far and anything can happen.”
For the second straight season the Rebels have reached the Sweet 16. They will face Avon at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Decatur Central Regional with the winner facing Cathedral or Greenfield in the championship game at 6 p.m.
Roncalli junior standout Nick Schnell slammed a three-run homer that sparked a five-run first inning. He also pitched, allowing just five hits and striking out the side in the seventh.
“Just to get rolling and pitching with that kind of lead makes it a lot easier on everybody,” Schnell said. “We were able to relax and play loose.”
Panaranto and Mark Cobb each drove in a run in the first.
Roncalli infielders uncharacteristically committed three errors in the sixth, which spoiled Schnell’s shutout. Two throwing errors allowed Southport senior Chris Cox to score. Cox went 3-for-3.
After giving up five runs and four hits in the first, Southport brought in side-armed lefty Kris Massey and right-handers Quinton Mosley and Dustin Church to no-hit the Rebels for the rest of the game.
“Our guys never quit,” Southport coach Scott Whitlock said. “It is hard to battle back after giving up five runs against a quality team like Roncalli. Our seniors led our guys for four straight years to get us to the point where we can turn things around. They realized what it took to be leaders.”
The Cardinals graduate Cox, Mosley, Dustin Church and Keaton Moore.
Southport reached the final by edging Ben Davis 2-1 when pinch runner Michael Fidler scored when a popup fell between three Giants.
Saints face Edinburgh
Lutheran also brought home a sectional trophy by defeating University 4-1 Monday at Sheridan. The Saints travel to the Morristown Regional and face Edinburgh at 1 p.m. Saturday with the championship game at 6 p.m.
Edinburgh ended Greenwood Christian Academy’s season by scoring 11 runs in the last three innings for an 11-1 Class A championship on the Lancers’ diamond. The Cougars finished 13-8.
Beech Grove fell to Indian Creek and Eric Braughton, who allowed only two hits while striking out 14. Beech Grove (6-16) left two runners stranded in the third in its biggest threat to score in the 3A Danville Sectional final.
No. 2 Center Grove captured its 4A Sectional title by dominating Greenwood 10-0 in six innings May 25. The Trojans (27-1) pounded 13 hits. CG pitcher Abby Herbst gave up only six hits.
The Trojans reached the title game after a revenge win against No. 20 Franklin Central 6-1. Coach Kathy Stricker’s Flashes finished 19-9.
Center Grove traveled to Shelbyville for a 4A Regional title game Tuesday with the winner advancing to the Bedford North Lawrence Semistate Saturday at 1 p.m.
Lutheran captured its Class A Sectional by dominating Deaf School 15-1. The Saints were host to Shakamak Tuesday with the winner going to the North Daviess Semistate Saturday at 1 p.m.