Senior staff writer
Roncalli entered Victory Field for the Marion County baseball championship game Monday looking to extend its success on the home field of the Indianapolis Indians.
In their last visit Downtown, the Rebels scored a dramatic 4-3 extra-inning game to win the 2016 4A state title.
The Rebels locked into a five-inning pitchers duel until Brebeuf Jesuit pushed across three runs in the sixth. The Braves, behind senior right-hander John Nierman, shut out Roncalli 5-0.
‘We beat two good pitchers to get here, but we ran into an even better pitcher this time,” Roncalli coach Aaron Kroll said. “We didn’t really stink it up; he was very, very good, and we couldn’t keep their lead-off runners off base.”
Roncalli junior pitcher Collen Panaretos retired the first nine Braves before giving up two hits and one run in the fourth.
The Rebels (13-6) threatened in the first when Hayden Harper led off with a walk. Senior Nick Schnell then got a hit with one out. The threat ended with a traditional shortstop-to-second-to-first double play. Tommy Hansen got the second hit off Wierman with a drive to left field in the seventh.
“We didn’t hit, but it wasn’t our bats; it was their pitcher,” Kroll said. “They had the hitters; how they lost 13 games is beyond me.”
The game was decided in the sixth when Brebeuf (14-13) scored three runs on two hits with two outs for a 4-0 lead. The inning began with an outstanding throw from Roncalli catcher to shortstop Hayden Harper at second to thwart a stolen base after a lead-off walk. Panaretos struck out the next batter.
The game turned on two grounders through the infield, three walks and a hit batter. Schnell’s diving catch in center field with the bases loaded ended the inning.
Braves’ lead-off hitter Cam Farren led off four of seven innings and was one of three Braves who reached base three times.
Six Rebels reached base but none went farther than second.
Defensively the Rebels were solid. Third baseman Erik Hammel and second baseman Pete Baker made quick throws on difficult grounders for outs in the third.
“I’m not discouraged,” Kroll said. “We made it to Victory Field; now it’s a matter of getting ready for the sectionals (beginning May 24). We still have games to play.”
The Rebels defeated Beech Grove, shut out North Central and dominated Perry Meridian in the lower bracket to reach Victory Field.
Southport and Lutheran won their openers to reach the quarterfinals before falling.
Cathedral won the opener Monday against Heritage Christian 8-3 for the city championship.