During the top of the sixth inning of the 2023 Delaware County Championship, the Wapahani Raiders and Delta Eagles were tied at one apiece.
Wapahani senior Daniel Blevins, a former Delta student, stepped up to the plate. Until this point, he was zero-for-two on the day.
But he would end the contest one-for-three as he destroyed a two-run home run to left field. This helped the Raiders capture their 13th Delaware County Title in program history as they downed the Eagles 4-1.
“It feels great to do that, especially against my old school,” Blevins said. “It was a great feeling [with] all of my teammates and all of my family. It was a great moment.”
The Raiders (14-8-1, 3-3 Mid-Eastern) saw it all in the past week. They opened the tournament with a shutout 3-0 victory over Daleville which included a no-hitter by Lash. In the semi-finals, they played the hometown Tigers. But after a late comeback win, Wapahani found themselves taking on the Eagles in the finale.
To both teams, this was a rematch. Nine days prior, the Eagles (8-14, 1-11 Hoosier Heritage) knocked off the Raiders as only one run was scored in the contest. Similar to this game, it was a pitcher's duel. After the two battles, Raiders head coach Brian Dudley believed that the Eagles were a worthy opponent.
“That's [the Eagles] a good young group out there,” he said. “A lot of sophomores and freshmen. That's a good group.”
The championship game started in the Raiders’ favor. In the first inning, senior Daxton Dudley scored the first run with an RBI double. Three innings later, the Eagles matched them when senior Gaige Winchester was walked with the bases loaded.
Until Blevins belted his two-run blast, the game was a defensive battle. Both teams ended up with six hits, but moving those runners became an issue, especially for the Eagles. This is something that the Raiders have been strong with all season.
“They [the defense] really helped me out,” Lash said. “For example, I wouldn't have had that no-hitter without some good plays that they made. Everyone trusts each other and they play their hearts out.”
After scoring one more run, the defense held the Eagles from having success on offense. Lash completed the whole game where he ended up with seven strikeouts. That included the final out of the game, where he then performed the “sword celebration.”
“My teammates tell me to do it all the time,” he said. “Like no. I want to make sure we get it done and when I get it done, I make sure to do it for them.”
For Wapahani, this season has not been the best record-wise in the past few seasons. But in the last few games, the team has started to come together and perform the best they have all season.
“One thing we've learned the last two weeks is to trust each other,” Dudley said. “This season we didn't do that. Now we're starting to trust each other.”
Due to the tournament’s schedule having to be adjusted due to weather, Lash believes that this was a preview of how sectionals will be for the Raiders.
“Because of the games getting moved, it played out just how it would in sectionals. “So I think it gave us an idea how sectionals are gonna go and what we'll have to do, and it's looking good for us.”
The Raiders will attempt to continue their momentum as they face Monroe Central (5-16, 1-5 Mid-Eastern) on Tuesday, May 16. The Eagles will attempt to get back on track when they take on Jay County (10-12, 1-5 Allen County) on Monday, May 15.
Contact Zach Carter with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @ZachCarter85.