News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

June 3, 2014

North baseball does it again, capturing Class 4A title with 13-2 victory over Plainfield

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute North batters got eight free passes to first base — seven walks, three intentional, and a hit batter — in the first three innings of high school baseball Tuesday night, and that recipe for disaster proved fatal for Plainfield in the championship game of the Class 4A Terre Haute South Sectional.

Not all the freebies went to T.J. Collett in the Patriots’ 13-2 win, although maybe one more should have.

“That’s what T.J. does,” said Nathan Will — with two walks, one intentional, of his own plus a 2-for-2 performance himself. “Whether you’re [hitting] behind him or in front, you’re going to get good pitches.

“Today [Plainfield pitchers] couldn’t do that either and it worked out even better.”

Collett was walked intentionally with two out and none on in the first inning, but Will followed with a walk of his own and Cody Maloon delivered an RBI single.

After a run-scoring wild pitch enabled the Quakers to tie the score in the bottom of the first, North mounted a two-out second-inning rally when Jonathan Eilbracht walked and Zach Milam singled, taking second on the unsuccessful attempt to throw out Eilbracht at third.

With runners at second and third with two out, the intentional pass for Collett was virtually automatic. But a passed ball allowed Eilbracht to score, Will was then intentionally walked to reload the bases, Maloon was hit by a pitch to force in a run and Lane Dransfield singled to drive in two more.

Plainfield made its second pitching change with one out in the third after two more walks, and the new pitcher botched Milam’s potential double-play ball. That loaded the bases for Collett and the Quakers decided to pitch to him.

A 370-foot grand slam was the result, and a hit by Will and a two-run homer over the foul pole in right by Dransfield made it 11-1 by the middle of the third inning.

Plainfield fans, seated facing right field, were already frustrated; they became apoplectic in their belief that Dransfield’s hit was foul, although it was probably a moot point by that time.

“It was fair,” Dransfield said later. “It was real close; that was why their fans were contemplating it.”

Dransfield’s hit might have been his favorite of the night, coach Shawn Turner of the Patriots indicated later, because he liked the fact that his team kept adding runs to its early lead.

“We all know T.J. is a great hitter,” Turner said, “but what we’re finding out is that he’s not a one-man band. These other guys came out and hit the ball hard and put it in play too, and when you do that good things happen.”

“We were focused,” Dransfield said. “We weren’t going to swing at bad pitches. We were going to hit good pitches and I think that shows with the score.”

“We were disciplined at the plate all night,” Turner agreed, “and because of that, we made them pitch to T.J.”

Plainfield got a run back in the bottom of the third to cut the lead to nine runs, but North was able to end the game in five innings after scoring twice in the top of the fifth. Collett, who only reached the top of the right-field fence this time, and Will hit back-to-back doubles and an error allowed a second run to score.

“We had some great defensive plays, like the one [in the bottom of the seventh] by Zach Milam, and an excellent pitching performance by Austin Hicks,” said Turner, by this time having endured an ice-water soaking from his players and a shaving-cream facial from assistant coach Fay Spetter. “It was a good victory.”

“Two years [of sectional championships] in a row feels great,” Will said. “Hopefully we’ll make it a little farther this year.”

“It feels real good to win two years in a row,” Dransfield agreed, “and hopefully we’ll not do what we did last year in the regionals [a 6-1 loss to Brownsburg].”

North plays New Castle at 10 a.m. Saturday at Avon.

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