Senior staff writer
Roncalli senior pitcher Michael McAvene has one goal for his baseball team.
“We want to keep playing and bring home that state championship that Roncalli so deserves,” he said. “As 10 seniors we didn’t want it to be done yet.”
The Rebels inched closer to their goal Monday after winning the rain-postponed 4A Decatur Central Regional by defeating Lawrence North 7-4 in the opener and Pendleton Heights 12-6 in the title nightcap.
Roncalli faces No. 11 Center Grove, winners of the Evansville Reitz Regional Monday, in a semistate game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Plainfield. The winner meets the Penn vs. No. 1 Zionsville winner in the state finals June 17 or 18 at Victory Field.
Senior Cody Smith led the Rebels in the nightcap with three doubles and five RBIs. He started on the mound and moved behind the plate after three innings.
The Rebels jumped to a 2-0 first-inning lead, fell behind 5-2 and recovered for a 7-5 lead that they never gave up. In the third they led off with three hits, a sacrifice bunt, Michael Williams’ RBI single and Tyler Lucas’ two-run homer.
Roncalli wound up with 10 hits, including two singles and a double by senior Jake Franklin, who scored four runs.
“I had a letdown inning on the mound,” Smith said. “I just wanted to go up there and look for the good first pitch. I knew I had a game like this in me; I just had to go up there and do it.”
McAvene had everything going for him in Monday’s opener, but he suffered from dehydration in the mid-80s heat. McAvene left the mound in the sixth after shutting out the Wildcats, allowing only three hits and striking out seven. Senior Conrad Daniel finished both games.
“Everything was working, curve ball and slider,” he said. “I didn’t use my change-up because I didn’t need to. I kept pitching hard and throwing breaking stuff. We’re playing as a team and team ball wins games.”
The Rebels pounded out seven runs in the first four innings on nine hits.
Roncalli consistently pressured the Wildcats with the lead-off hitter reaching first base in the first four innings, including Robbie Strader, who led off with a single in the first and third.
“The pressure was on them, and that was our goal,” Strader said. “The team that gets hits and gets on first normally comes out on top and it showed in the runs we scored.”
At Evansville, Center Grove’s Brian Gudeman drove in the winning run to defeat New Albany 5-4 for the regional title Monday. Earlier the Trojans downed Bloomington South 5-1 in a game continued from Saturday due to rain. The Trojans are coached by former Roncalli mentor Ken Hatfield, who guided the Rebels to their 2012 regional title.
At Morristown Saturday, a potential all-Southside Class A regional championship match-up went awry when Greenwood Christian Academy, winners of three straight sectionals, fell to Jac-Cen-Del 5-3, and Lutheran lost to Clay City 4-1.