Three minutes into an interview with various media members, Terre Haute North baseball coach Shawn Turner couldn’t react fast enough to avoid a bucket of ice water being dumped over his head from behind by his giddy players.
The soaking-wet Turner could shake it off with a smile, however, because his Patriots had just won the IHSAA Class 4A Terre Haute South Sectional championship with a 13-3 six-inning triumph over Plainfield on Monday evening.
It was North’s first sectional title in baseball since 2006.
Lane Dransfield and Sam Wolf delivered two-run homers in a 10-run fifth for North, which had been trailing 3-2 through 41⁄2 innings. The Patriots wore out four Plainfield pitchers in that frame, eventually improving their record to 24-6 as they prepare to move on to the Avon Regional.
“What really makes this nice is for the five seniors we have with us,” Turner said before getting drenched. “They dedicated themselves to playing baseball the right way. We all have moments where we have a little bit of individualism, but this has been a great group that has really bought into playing as a team.”
After the Quakers jumped ahead 1-0 in the top of the second, North countered with a pair of runs. Wolf walked and Nathan Will and Dransfield singled to load the bases.
One out later, Jonathan Eilbracht singled home Wolf and Will.
Plainfield tied the score with a solo homer by Gabe Burkhardt in the third and catapulted on top 3-2 with another run in the fourth.
Then came the decisive bottom of the fifth.
“Everybody had kept waiting for the next guy to come up and do it,” Turner noted. “We were being patient. But at the same time … when they made the mistakes [in the fifth], we were ready and willing to put it through. Guys really came through the way they were supposed to. I’m real proud of them for that.”
Besides the two roundtrippers, other big hits in the fifth included an RBI single by Wolf (who had three runs batted in that inning), a two-run single by Will and a two-run triple by T.J. Collett.
Afterward, Dransfield and Wolf described their bombs.
“It was 3-2 [count] and I was just trying to get the job done,” said Dransfield, a junior. “I happened to get a hold of it and take it over the fence [down the right-field line]. It was a fastball on the inside part of the plate.”
“I just remember taking the first pitch and then the next pitch making solid contact [to left field],” mentioned Wolf, one of the seniors praised by Turner. “It was a fastball high and a little inside.”
Dransfield scored the 13th run, triggering the 10-run rule, in the sixth after reaching on a walk and stealing second base. With one out, he came home from third on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Nick Norton.
“It feels really good,” Dransfield reflected during the postgame celebration. “We hadn’t won it in a while. The last people to win it were [Josh] Phegley and all them, who are really prestigious players. It just feels good to win it again … win it for the community and win it for North.”
“I’m ecstatic right now,” Wolf added. “We came up short my freshman, sophomore and junior years, so actually winning the sectional championship feels amazing.”
Wolf admitted that it felt especially good to be yucking it up on the grass of Terre Haute South.
“It’s always better to win games on your rivals’ field,” he said. “But we could have been in Plainfield. We could have played at Terre Town. It doesn’t matter, as long as we win.”
Turner and his players hadn’t thought ahead much about the regional, where they’ll face either Avon or Brownsburg. They were more concerned with savoring the moment of a sectional championship.
“The one good thing about playing next weekend is we are, in fact, playing next weekend,” Turner said. “We’ll worry about who it is we’re playing and what time and when and where and all that other good stuff later on. Right now, I don’t care about that. This is a sectional win for the Terre Haute North side and we’re very, very pleased with that.”
When pressed to discuss North’s potential in the state tournament, Wolf didn’t show a lack of confidence.
“I honestly think that we can go on to the state finals and we will go on to the state finals if we play Patriot baseball the way we can and should,” he said.
From the Plainfield perspective, coach Jeff McKeon credited North on its victorious performance, but he couldn’t help but wonder how things could have been different.
“We have no pitching,” he emphasized. “Our No. 1 [junior Connor Mitchell] had a 102[-degree] fever and we couldn’t throw him [as the starter]. We reluctantly had to use him [as a reliever]. If you’ve got a bullet in your holster, you gotta use it. But he wasn’t effective. He wasn’t his normal self.”
TH North 13, Plainfield 3
PLAINFIELD (AB-R-H-RBI) — Gulley cf 2-0-0-0, Hughes rf 2-0-0-0, Spaulding p-lf 3-0-0-0, Burkhardt 1b 3-1-2-1, Garzinski dh 2-0-0-0, P.Jones 2b 0-0-0-0, Sparks p 0-0-0-0, Knuckles p 0-0-0-0, Mitchell p 0-0-0-0, Hummel p 0-0-0-0, Smith 3b 3-1-1-0, Caprarella ss-p-ss 3-1-1-1, Clark c 2-0-1-0, Martin lf-2b-ss-2b 2-0-0-0. TOTALS 22-3-5-2.
TERRE HAUTE NORTH (AB-R-H-RBI) — Sevigny ss 4-0-0-0, Milam 3b 2-2-0-0, Collett c 2-1-1-2, Schlosser pr 0-1-0-0, Wolf 1b 3-2-3-3, Booth pr 0-1-0-0, Will dh 4-1-2-2, Maloon pr 0-1-0-0, Massey rf 0-0-0-0, Pate p 0-0-0-0, Hannum p 0-0-0-0, Dransfield cf 3-2-2-2, Pittman lf-pr-lf 3-1-0-0, C.Jones ph 0-0-0-0, Eilbracht 2b 3-0-1-2, Norton ph 0-0-0-1, Long p-rf 1-1-0-0. TOTALS 25-13-9-12.
Plainfield 011 1 0 0 -- 3
TH North 002 0(10)1 -- 13
E — Wolf, Hughes. DP — THN 1. LOB — P 5, THN 5. 2B — Caprarella, Eilbracht. 3B — Collett. HR — Burkhardt, Dransfield, Wolf. SH — Clark. SF — Norton. SB — Pittman, Long, Dransfield.
IP H R ER BB SO
Spaulding 4.0 4 2 2 2 4
Sparks (L) 0.0 3 5 5 2 0
Knuckles 0.0 0 1 1 1 0
Mitchell 0.1 0 1 1 1 0
Caprarella 0.2 2 3 3 1 0
Hummel 0.2 0 1 1 1 0
IP H R ER BB SO
Long 2.0 2 1 1 3 1 1
Pate 2.0 2 2 1 0 0
Hannum (W, 3-3) 2.0 2 0 0 0 2
Sparks pitched to 5 batters in the 5th.
Knuckles pitched to 1 batter in the 5th
Winning run (10-run rule) scored with 2 outs in the 6th.
WP — Pate, Sparks. HBP — Long (by Spaulding).
Next — North (24-6) will advance to the Avon Regional on Saturday to play the winner of the Avon-Brownsburg game from the Avon Sectional. Plainfield finished 17-11.