If you wanted perfect baseball weather for yesterday’s sectional championships, you got it as the day brought sunshine and enjoyable temperatures. But if you were looking forward to the final two Delaware County teams continuing their postseasons, disappointment was your answer.
Sectional #24 - Delta vs New Castle
The Sectional #24 championship game at Yorktown High School came down to two teams who ended the regular season under .500, with both teams losing their first five games of the season.
In the semi-finals, the Delta Eagles knocked off the hometown Yorktown Tigers (20-7, 11-3 Hoosier Heritage) 5-3, while the New Castle Trojans defeated the Jay County Patriots (13-14, 1-5 Allen County) 4-3.
But in the title game, it would be the Trojans knocking the Eagles out of the sky as they went on to win 3-2.
“I’m just proud of [the team],” Delta head coach Devin Wilburn said. “There's never really an easy way to say what you need to say when the season ends. We had a rough start to the year… and our guys kept battling.”
The scoring started when the Trojans took the lead in the top of the second inning. Eagles (11-17, 2-12 Hoosier Heritage) starting pitcher sophomore Zane Cline threw a wild pitch which allowed a New Castle (7-19, 2-12 Hoosier Heritage) runner to score.
But Delta did not flinch. In the bottom half of the inning, they had two runners on base due to a walk and a double. Then sophomore Bryce Stroble crushed a double to tie the game.
Later in the bottom of the fourth, Stroble would once again come up clutch as he hit a sacrifice fly that allowed the Eagles to take the 2-1 lead. But the Trojans would tie the game in the top of the sixth after an RBI double by senior Johnathan Eberhart.
Eberhart’s double was one of the most significant key factors in the win. But this wasn’t the first time his heroics helped his school defeat Delta.
“It feels amazing [to help the Trojans],” Eberhart said. “I actually secured the winning touchdown in football too [New Castle defeated Delta 17-12 in the fall]. So it’s something about the Eagles because you always gotta one up them to win.”
Following the hit, the Trojans took the lead on a fielding error. After that, both offenses became minuscule. Even with the loss, the Eagles had some good performances. Cline would exit the game with eleven strikeouts and only allowed three hits.
One thing that Wilburn is looking forward to is the age of the team. The Eagles are only losing two seniors this year.
“Our freshman class this year was really young and there's a bunch of them up and down the program,” he said. “It's a lot of guys in spots for the first time… It’s taken two years of basically not saying winning doesn't matter because we want to compete and win every single game. But setting the foundation for what we think this program can be and pushing forward for years to come.”
Sectional #55 - Wes-Del vs Daleville
Two Delaware County teams met at Memorial Field in Anderson for the Sectional #55 championship game. But only one could walk out with the trophy.
That same trophy found itself on a bus being escorted by police cars and fire trucks to Wes-Del High School after the Warriors defeated the Broncos 2-1.
“[The team is] excited,” Warriors head coach Daniel Hanson said. “It's a huge win for our school and our community.”
The Broncos (11-11, 4-4 Mid-Eastern) took the lead in the first inning when a run scored on a fielder’s choice play. But in the top of the sixth, a wild pitch by Daleville starter junior Meryck Adams allowed the Warriors to tie the game 1-1.
The game required one extra inning to decide a winner. In the top of the eighth, Wes-Del (20-8, 5-3 Mid-Eastern) senior Travis Bunch launched a solo home run. After three straight outs in the bottom of the eight, the Warriors came out on top.
Hanson believes that the accomplishments of this group helped prepare them for this year's sectional run.
“We were in the county championship two years ago and the championship last year,” he said. “They've collectively won 56 games and with that, we just felt prepared for whatever happened.”
The Warrior’s season has been impressive, to say the least. With the win, they have hoisted a twenty-win season. To Hanson, it’s the team’s leadership that has gotten them this far.
“This group has really brought in the team-first mentality,” he said. “We had a tough loss last year to the hands of Cowan in the [sectional championship]... And these guys have really made a conscious effort to prepare for every practice and every game so when that opportunity was there again, we had a different outcome.”
The Warriors will go on to face Blue River Valley (11-9, 3-4 Mid-Eastern), with the time and location to be determined.