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June 14, 2014

Shakamak tops Rivet in pitchers' duel to advance to Victory Field

Braxton Yeryar tosses eight shutout innings to lead the Lakers

PLAINFIELD — When your name is Yeryar, Shakamak High School expects great things on the baseball diamond. Vincennes Rivet dodged Brett Yeryar intentionally walking him. But Rivet had to face Braxton and pitch to Tanner and their performances lifted the Lakers to a 1-0 victory and into the Class A state championship game.

Braxton Yeryar pitched a three-hit shutout and Tanner Yeryar singled up the middle in the eighth inning to drive in Kyler Fulford with the game-winning run.

Shakamak (26-6) will play Rockville for the Class A state championship at Victory Field in Indianapolis either Friday night or Saturday. The IHSAA will announce the championship schedule today.

Ball gloves, hats and arms were sent sailing into the air Saturday in the Class A Plainfield Semistate when Baxton Yeryar threw strike three for the last out of the game. It’s the first time since 2005 Shakamak has made the Class A state finals, and just like last time, Chip Sweet is retiring as coach.

“It’s [Sweet’s] last season and we all know that and we want to give him the best season he can possibly have. We want to give him that blue [championship] right,” Baxton Yeryar said.

And it took everybody on the team to get it done, too. The Lakers backed Braxton Yeryar (8-3) with a flawless defense for eight innings, but could not score until the eighth inning.

Shakamak’s Fulford, one of four seniors, led off the eighth inning with a base hit. Jake Walters followed with sacrifice bunt that moved Fulford to second base. Braxton Yeryar hit a ground ball to second base that moved Fulford to third.

That brought up Tanner Yeryar, a freshman who started the season on the junior varsity.

“I knew [Tanner] could defend in left field, but he’s been swinging the bat here lately, and I thought he had some good cuts early. [The hit] didn’t surprise me. His motor runs all the time,” Sweet said.

Tanner drove the ball through the eye of the needle up the middle to score Fulford with the only run of the game.

“I was put up there to do a job. The way it worked out was perfect. I told myself I could do it. It just came through. I got the job done. People look at freshmen as weaker, less athletic, I think. But I came through. Now we’re going to play on the big field,” Tanner Yeryar said.

Until that moment, the semistate game belong to the pitchers.

Shakamak’s Braxton Yeryar and Rivet’s Chase Allen pitched seven innings of shutout baseball against each other. Yeryar allowed just three hits, struck out seven, walked two, while Allen gave up seven hits, struck out 10 and walked three.

“[Chase Allen] kept us off stride. He kept throwing that off-speed stuff in there and about 75-80 percent of the time it wasn’t even a strike. We were so far out on our front foot. He was just making us look sick. And it seemed like every time we would hit a ball hard it was right at somebody. It’s just the way the game played out for both teams,” Sweet said.

Braxton Yeryar retired 14 batters in a row to close the game. Rivet’s last scoring threat came in the fourth inning when Collin Wirth led off with an infield hit. Wirth reached third base, but Yeryar retired three batters in a row to end the inning.

“I just tried to keep my cool and throw strikes until my team helped me out and it worked out. My little brother came through with a nice hit for me in the last inning,” Braxton Yeryar said.

Shakamak had seven hits in the game, led by Fulford and Walters with two each.

Sweet says this will be his last game as Shakamak’s baseball coach. He retired five years ago when the Lakers were state runner-up. But this time is different.

“That’s an awesome feeling [to retire with the state championship game]. It happened to me five years ago. I thought it was my last game, too, and this is my last game, next weekend. It is a special feeling and it’s a special feeling also because I have a senior son [Luke] that will be putting on the uniform for the last time,” Sweet said.

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