Senior staff writer
Entering with a 3-15 record, Perry Meridian went on a three-game winning streak to reach the Marion County baseball tourney championship game against Roncalli at Victory Field at 5 p.m. Monday.
Perry Meridian upended Warren Central 4-2 Friday and then defeated Decatur Central 7-2 and Ben Davis 8-4 Saturday.
The Rebels (14-5) are making their second straight appearance in the title game.
“We’re going to experience playing together at Victory Field,” first-year Perry Meridian coach Jake Banwart told his players. “We didn’t let our mistakes get us down like we had in many games. Our hitters took on their responsibilities at the plate. We’re playing together; we’re playing for each other.”
Banwart pointed out that the Falcons have been competitive this season, losing many games by one or two runs. He professed their record wasn’t as bad as it appeared, and they proved that Friday and Saturday.
“My message before we played Ben Davis was that we expect to play at Victory Field,” Banwart said. “We’re excited; we’re on a mission. We’re so glad for our seniors because they will finally get to play there.”
Against Warren Central, the Falcons pushed across three runs in the first and added one in the fifth. Caden Reed had two doubles and two RBIs; Elliott Obermaier drove in a run and pitcher Vince Hickey struck out six and gave up three hits.
Perry Meridian reversed its sixth-inning jinx by scoring six runs in that inning against Decatur Central, breaking a 1-1 deadlock. Reed drove in two runs and Jesse Wainscott and Alex Hooton each hit doubles. Charlie Joyce, who only pitched one inning last year, allowed only one earned run while throwing 84 pitches.
Against Ben Davis, the Falcons scored in all but the third inning. Winning pitcher Bayley Arnold struck out nine as Joyce and Hooton closed. Joe Genier slammed a home run, Morgan and Luke Arkin each had two hits, and Obermaier drove in two runs.
Roncalli advanced by defeating Speedway 13-4, Brebeuf 3-2 and Lawrence Central 10-7.
Nick Schnell continued his rampage at the plate in the tourney, hitting two home runs and driving in three RBIs against Speedway, slamming a two-run homer and scoring the winning run against Brebeuf, and going 3-for-3 in the semifinal game against the Bears.
With seven home runs in his last 14 at-bats, Schnell ties the single-season record with seven and becomes the Rebels’ all-time leader with 19.
Dylan Williams went the distance on the mound, and August Endris and Dominic Brown had two hits apiece against the Sparkplugs.
Against Brebeuf, Harrison Koppenhofer drove in the winning run, Mark Cobb had two hits, and pitcher Max Lundy went the distance, striking out eight batters.
Koppenhofer and Brian Kenney had two hits each against LC. Brown hit his fourth extra-base hit in his last three games. Erik Hommel was the winning pitcher with Hayden Harper earning a save.