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Wolves in a walk: Boone Grove draws 17 bases on balls in PCC tourney final rout; eyes 3A sectional

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP -- Last May, Trey Pitcock didn't get to play in the Porter County Conference tournament championship, watching from the dugout with a broken wrist, suffered just a few a days before in a semifinal game with Hebron, as South Central topped Boone Grove on a Jacob Oehmen walk-off.

Just a couple weeks ago, Pitcock and the Wolves witnessed another walk-off, this one at SC, as the Satellites took an 11-10 eight-inning victory to forge a tie in the conference round-robin.

Motivation anyone?

"When they walked us off, we knew we wanted to see them here again," Pitcock said. "I was ready and so was the team. We were hyped up."

There was no walk-off this time, but there sure were a lot of walks, 17 by four Satellites pitchers to be exact, as Boone rolled to a lopsided 23-6 five-inning win in Friday's tournament final at Senator Park.

"We talked about that for sure," BG coach Doug Hoover said. "You want revenge, right? You want to come back and beat somebody who beat you. It gives you a little more energy and focus, and the guys had that. We had a great practice (Thursday). We worked on a lot of different things at the plate from one through nine in the batting order. We felt really good coming in."

Neither Hoover nor Pitcock were expecting the beatdown, but they sure weren't complaining as South Central's inability to throw strikes quickly turned the game into a rout.

"They're a great team, a good hitting team," Hoover said. "I thought it would be a dogfight. I thought it was going to be a high-scoring game both ways. I didn't think it would be quite like this, but I also think we may have more depth in our pitching than they do. (Brayden) Grass was probably a little tired. That would be my guess."

Grass, who blanked Morgan Township on Monday, returned on three days rest, but didn't have much. Boone put five on him in the first and chased him with three in the second.

"Their starting pitcher's tough. He's given us a good game twice last year and once this year," Pitcock said. "I got hit pretty hard, too. My defense made some plays for me. They did really well up the middle and in the outfield. The umpire had a very good zone. He was very consistent. I knew where he was calling it. You just need to throw strikes. Even the trouble I got in, it was all walks. Hoover's done a great job of getting us ready for big games."

The game went from bad to worse for South Central as Boone scored 12 runs in the third inning, nearly batting around twice, to go up 20-1.

"I'm at a loss for words, to be quite honest," Satellites coach Zach Coulter said. "I haven't seen anything like that in a long time. We weren't the better team, Boone Grove was. They came out attacking. They were disciplined hitters. They made us throw strikes. We were minus-13 in the walk column. It's a tough game when you give up 17 freebies. The defense gets bored. We shot ourselves in the foot from the get go. Even before the walks, we had two errors. We could've rolled a double play and they end up having a five-run (first) inning when they might have scored one. We didn't play clean baseball."

The only glimmer of good for South Central came with a five-run third inning, though it was largely cosmetic at that point.

"I'm proud of the fight with the five-run inning," Coulter said. "You're climbing uphill consistently when you're giving up a five-run inning, a 12-run inning, a three-run inning. You can't make any ground up. I don't know if it's the first day of summer vacation blues. We're consistently a no-excuse program. We can make excuses all day long, we just have to play cleaner baseball and throw strikes. You give up a 23 spot, it's not football. We know they're a talented team, but like the regular season, we know we can play with them. We had nine hits and scored six runs in a five-inning game."

Hitting stars were abundant for Boone, a team brimming with young talent. Freshman Tristan Wilson went 3-for-4 with four runs and five RBI. Sophomore Davian Carrera was 3-for-4 with three RBI and four runs. Isaiah Steinhilber doubled twice, walked three times, and knocked in four. Sophomore Xavier Carrera clobbered a booming three-run home run over the boards in left and scored four runs. Pitcock also crossed the plate four times.

"Before we started taking, we were hitting," Hoover said. "Once they started to struggle, I told the guys, hey, take a strike, if the second strike isn't exactly where you want it, take that one, too. That's just good baseball."

No worse than a co-favorite to win the PCC tournament, the Wolves face a different task in the coming week as they move into post-season play and their first foray into Class 3A. They open Griffith Sectional play against Highland, with defending state champion Andrean and state-ranked Hanover Central also in the field.

"We kind of knew we were moving up after last year, and would probably end up in Andrean's sectional," Pitcock said. "It gets released, we see Andrean, Hanover, Highland. We're one of the smallest schools in 3A, a bunch of established schools, so many great coaches. I like the draw, Andrean and Hanover on the other side. I have a lot of buddies at Andrean and Hanover. Highland's a great team, well-coached. We're focused on Highland and if we get to that second game, we'll be excited. We'll be coming with energy. Hopefully, with all that combined, we can scratch out some wins. Why not us?"

Why not indeed.

"We talked about it at the very first callout meeting," Hoover said. "First and foremost, I believe in these guys tremendously. There's a tremendous amount of talent on this team. We're probably in the most competitive sectional in the state. I think we can have a deep run in the sectional. The road got harder, but it's not impossible. There are a lot of good teams we have to beat, but I'm also a firm believer, in baseball, anything can happen in one game."

Boone Grove won the Porter County Conference tournament championship with a 23-6, five-inning victory over South Central on Friday at Washington Township. The teams tied for the PCC round-robin title.

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