BY STEVE KRAH
Lafayette Central Catholic got on the scoreboard early and managed to work out of some jams in besting Tecumseh 4-1 in the IHSAA Class 1A baseball state championship Saturday, June 18 at Victory Field in Indianapolis.
The No. 3-ranked Knights beat the unranked Braves at the 2022 State Finals for the program’s eighth 1A title (2004, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013).
Lafayette Central Catholic scored two runs in the first inning and added markers in the fourth and fifth while Tecumseh tallied a fourth-inning run and finished the contest with nine runners left on base.
“All year Owen Munn and Evan Dienhart kind of set the table for us,” said 27th-year Knights coach Tim Bordenet. “Ben (Mazur) has a knack of pitching out of trouble. He bears down when there’s traffic out there.
“He did that today.”
Junior Munn went 1-for-3 with two runs scored. Junior Dienhart was 2-of-2 with a run. Junior Mazur went 1-for-2 with an RBI. On the mound, he gave up five hits and one unearned run with six strikeouts and three walks for 119 pitches.
Tecumseh junior center fielder Chase Jones took a hit away from junior T.J. Bell with a diving catch for the first out in the Lafayette Central Catholic sixth.
A scoreless Braves sixth included a one-out walk by Jones and two-out walk by freshman Mason Gogel with a rally-ending caught-looking strikeout by Mazur.
With on run in the fifth, the Knights went ahead 4-1.
Munn reached on a fielder’s choice, moved to third base on an error and scored on a single by Mazur.
Tecumseh left two runners and came up empty in the fifth following a one-out single by junior Conner Anglin and two-out single by junior Dax Bailey.
Lafayette Central Catholic (27-6) took a 3-1 edge with one run in the fourth.
Bell singled off the wall in right. Junior courtesy runner Nathan Bapst moved to second on a groundout and scored on a throwing error following a groundout for the second out of the inning.
The Braves tallied one run in the fourth to pull within 2-1.
Junior Brody Julian reached on an error, moved to second base on a wild pitch, third base on a single by Bailey (Tecumseh’s first hit of the game) and scored when junior Drew DuPont got on by error.
The frame — that included three Knight defensive miscues — ended with the bases loaded. Mazur recorded two strikeouts and a coerced a fly-out.
Lafayette Central Catholic stranded two runners in a scoreless third.
Dienhart produced a two-out infield single Mazur walked (and was spelled by courtesy runner Bapst) before Braves right-hander Bailey coaxed an inning-ending groundout.
Anglin lined a two-out single and was thrown on trying to steal second base — junior catcher Ryan Schummer to shortstop Dienhart in a score-free Tecumseh third.
The Knight second ended on a Tecumseh double play — shortstop Julian tagging second base and firing to first baseman Drew DuPont, retiring junior runner Tyler Fox (who singled) and sophomore batter Kayden Minnich.
The Braves went down in order against Mazur in the second with a line-out, fly-out and strikeout.
Lafayette Central Catholic tallied two runs in its half of the first to go up 2-0.
Munn smacked a lead-off double and scored on an error as Dienhart put down a bunt single and advanced to second base. Dienhart stole third base and beat the throw home on Schummer’s sacrifice fly to center.
Tecumseh left a runner at third base in a scoreless first. Lead-off hitter Anglin drew a walk and moved around on a wild pitch and groundout but got no further against LCC’s Mazur.
Bailey went all six innings on the mound for the Braves and gave up six hits and four runs (three earned) with six strikeouts and three walks over 95 pitches.
Lafayette Central Catholic senior Justin Brady took home the Phil Gardner Mental Attitude Award.
Tecumseh (19-13) was attempting to win the program’s second state title (the other came in 2003) and the Braves are now three-time state runners-up.
There were no seniors and 11 freshmen on Tecumseh’s 20-man tournament roster.
“If we don’t make those mistakes it’s really a 1-1 ballgame,” said fifth-year Braves coach Ted Thompson of Saturday’s contest. “You don’t know what happens at that point.
“Today was just not our day.”