Fundamentals will be a priority as new head baseball coach Greg Taylor begins to make his imprint on the program at Indian Creek High School in Trafalgar, Ind. Taylor has been guiding the Braves on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the current IHSAA Limited Contact Period. “We’re establishing fundamentals from the very beginning and preparing them for off-season drills,” says Taylor, whose players will take part in weight training, arm conditioning and have a chance to hit in the “barn” as Indian Creek gets prepared for the 2023 season. “Our strength and conditioning coach (Bram Wood) is fantastic. (Strength training) gives them the advantage of being physically fit and it plays into health. The boys miss less (play and practice time) and are not hurt as often.” Taylor notes that Wood’s training is sports-specific, even geared to positions within sports. Three assistant coaches — Chris Steinway, Mark Ferguson and Craig Davis — were part of the IC staff a year ago. Tim Guyer is new to the program. The Braves look to field varsity and junior squads in 2023. Indian Creek (enrollment around 625) is a member of the Western Indiana Conference (with Brown County, Cascade, Cloverdale, Edgewood, Greencastle, North Putnam, Northview, Owen Valley, South Putnam, Sullivan and West Vigo). The Braves were part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping in 2022 with Brown County, Edgewood, Owen Valley, Sullivan and West Vigo. Indian Creek has won six sectional titles — the last in 2019. A fieldhouse, which will be used by baseball and other teams, is under construction at Indian Creek. The location of the softball field has been moved. Turf was added to the football field for this fall and is available for baseball and other squads to practice on when their diamonds are too wet. There is a movement to establish a middle school baseball program that would play as a club sport in the spring. Meanwhile, the high school staff is working with local youth league and travel ball players. “We want them to engage in our program,” says Taylor. “That’s an important thing — getting a feeder program following the same philosophy, fundamentals as high school.” A volunteer years ago at Indian Creek when Brian Luse was head coach, Taylor followed Luse to Franklin Community. Recent Indian Creek graduates who moved on to college baseball include the Class of 2018’s Dylan Sprong (Franklin, Ind., College) and 2019’s Dustin Sprong (University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.) and Wyatt Phillips (University of Indianapolis). For several years, Taylor has coached travel baseball. The last four years have been with the Shelby County Cubs. A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Taylor is a 1992 graduate of Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, where he played four years for Spartans head coach Tom Muth. “We did a lot of fundamental work,” says Taylor, who was a shortstop. He played two years each for Indiana Baseball Hall of Famer Jerry Blemker at Vincennes (Ind.) University and Gary Hogan at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. Taylor was selected in the 40th round of the 1996 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. The switch-hitting middle infielder played through 1998. Future National League MVP Jimmy Rollins was a teammate on the 1997 Piedmont Boll Weevils and 1998 Clearwater Phillies and the two sometime roomed together on the road. A senior director in medical affairs for pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, Greg has been married to Kate for 25 years. Kate Taylor is in public relations and coaches diving at Indian Creek. The couple has two children — Ella (16) and Grayson (13). Ella Taylor is a junior diving and track athlete at IC. Indiana Creek seventh grader Grayson Taylor is in baseball, tennis, basketball, diving and track.
Steven Mirizzi enjoyed his previous coaching assignment, but has made a move that brings him closer to home. Mirizzi, who lives in Avon, Ind., with fiancee’ Tiffany Herr and three children (son Jackson, 9, daughter Mackenzie, 5, and son Keegan, 3) has gone from head coach at Indian Creek High School in Trafalgar, Ind., to head coach at Plainfield (Ind.) High School. He lives about 10 minutes from the Home of the Quakers. It was about an hour commute to Indian Creek. Jackson plays travel baseball (Indiana Bulls 10U Black with his father as coach) and Mackenzie is in competitive cheerleading. Steven Mirizzi balances family and his own lawn care service. “Leaving Indian Creek was really hard. I think they will have a strong shot at winning the (Western Indiana) Conference and the sectional (in 2023),” says Mirzzi, who led the Braves program 2018-22 with sectional crowns in 2018 and 2019 and a regional tile in 2018. “I am very grateful that (athletic director) Derek Perry, (principal) Luke Skobal and (superintendent) Dr. Tim Edsel gave me the opportunity to lead their program. They are some of the most-memorable seasons of my coaching career. “(Moving to Plainfield) came down to having a chance to compete at the highest level in a good conference.” Plainfield (enrollment around 1,800) is a member of the Mid-State Conference (with Decatur Central, Franklin Community, Greenwood, Martinsville, Mooresville, Perry Meridian and Whiteland). The Quakers were part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2022 with Avon, Brownsburg, Decatur Central, Terre Haute North Vigo and Terre Haute South Vigo. Plainfield has won eight sectional titles — the last in 1997. Mirizzi was hired in early August and from the time of his call-out meeting through the IHSAA Limited Contact Period practices drawing 25-plus players each time out and now wrapping up with a Red-Blue World Series, lofty goals have been set. “We have high expectations,” says Mirizzi, who takes over a program that was 6-22 at the varsity level in 2022. “We want to win 20 games every year and compete for conference and sectional championships. “We want to win a state title.” Plainfield just broke ground on turf fields for baseball and softball, which are expected to be ready next spring. The baseball field already has stadium seating dugout-to-dugout and will get new fencing. “I want to get the community excited again about Plainfield baseball,” says Mirizzi. “We have a good dynamic for our coaching staff. We will be able to develop our guys through the program and make our varsity competitive.” The varsity staff includes Tyler Brown (pitching coach) and Eric Farley (former Indiana University catcher and local youth coach) with Steve Fuson returning as head junior varsity coach and Mike Harper back as head freshmen coach. Plainfield alum Noah Lane also returns and helps at also levels. Fuson is also a director for the Plainfield Havoc, which serves as a feeder program for the Quakers. Mirizzi and company are looking for pitchers who can compete in the strike zone to keep the team in games. “We want to let (defenders) make plays and limit walks,” says Mirizzi. “I’m excited about our defense and offensive lineup. We have strong senior group.” Among returning regulars in the Class of 2023 are Mason Birke, Noah Hessong, Maddox Holtsclaw, Cooper Martin and Bryce Pax.
Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School baseball ended the 2022 season as IHSAA Class 3A state runners-up. The 2021 Braves participated at the semistate level. Wes Neese was an assistant coach with those clubs and is now Brebeuf head coach after Jeff Scott stepped away from the post. “There won’t be a ton of changes,” says Neese. “Our philosophies were so much the same. We did everything together.” Neese and Scott met each other as assistants on the Mooresville (Ind.) High School staff led by Eric McGaha. Scott was Neese’s assistant during his time leading the Pioneers program. Neese aided Scott for two previous seasons at Brebeuf, three at Martinsville (Ind.) High School and the most-recent stint with the Indianapolis-based Braves. “I’ve been fortunate to be with coaches who didn’t have a big ego and let you coach as an assistant,” says Neese. “Coach McGaha did not micro-manage us. Jeff and I have continued that.” As a Brebeuf assistant, Neese was third base and pitching coach. He called the pitches. “I was able to learn a lot,” says Neese, who looks forward to getting ready for 2023 during the upcoming IHSAA Limited Contact Period. “I’m letting kids get settled into school roles right now,” says Neese. “Starting Sept. 6 we’ll go two days a week for two hours until fall break.” There will be practices on Father O’Brien Field and weightlifting days. “We have quite a few fall athletes so we won’t have our whole team,” says Neese. “We’ll get to know as many kids as we can.” Many position players are expected back for 2023. About 15 varsity innings return to the pitching staff with the graduation of Andrew Dutkanych IV (Vanderbilt University commit), Sam Reed (Eastern Michigan University), Chase Golden (Western Illinois University) and A.J. Rinebold (who plans to try to walk on at Purdue University). Luke Bauer is bound for baseball at Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.) and Anthony Annee football at Marian University in Indianapolis. Neese says there are no college baseball commitments yet in the Class of 2023 but Jayden Ohmer has gotten D-I schools to indicate interest. First base coach Thomas Parker (a former Huntington North High School and Anderson University player) and infield coach/data and analytics coordinator Eric Hartung (who works for the NCAA in Indianapolis) return to the varsity coaching staff. Mooresville graduate and retired Ford Motor Company quality lead Eric Fenwick is an addition and will guide outfielders. Neese is interviewing junior varsity coach candidates. The Class of 2021 had to two college players in 2022 — Nathan Bingman at Virginia Military Institute and Jack Moronek at Butler University in Indianapolis with the Class of 2020’s Shane Bauer at Dartmouth College (Hanover, N.H.), Karl Meyer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Andrew Pickett at Hope College (Holland, Mich.). Gabe Wright extended his prep school time at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). Neese is a 1997 graduate of Greencastle (Ind.) High School, where Stan Ward was the head baseball coach his freshman year and Glen Hile was in charge of the Tiger Cubs the last three. After being cut from baseball in fall at DePauw University in Greencastle, Neese opted to change his major to Secondary Education and began coaching at the youth and high school levels. After a long stint as a teacher at Mooresville, Neese opted for a career change and went to work for Adrenaline Fundraising territory owner Scott and works from his Plainfield, Ind., home as business operations manager. Wes and wife Jean Ann, a pharmacist at Eli Lily, celebrated 20 years of marriage in June. The couple has two sons — Brebeuf sophomore football/baseball player Steven Neese and Plainfield Community Middle School eighth grade footballer Brayden Neese. What Wes Neese appreciates is the support Brebeuf baseball gets from president Fr. William Verbryke, athletic director Ted Hampton and assistants AD’s Brad Weinstein and Jacob Weinstein. “There’s never been a time when we needed something that they weren’t there to provide it,” says Neese. “Working of the right people is credibly important to me and Brebeuf is the right place because of the people.” Brebeuf (enrollment around 825) is four-year private school a member of the Circle City Conference (with Covenant Christian, Guerin Catholic, Heritage Christian, Indianapolis Bishop Chatard and Roncalli). The Braves were part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping in 2022 with Danville Community, Greencastle, Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter and Tri-West Hendricks. Brebeuf has won 16 sectional titles — the last dozen coming in the 2000’s.
Carson Husmann was known to put baseballs in orbit while playing for the Satellites of South Central Junior/Senior High School in Union Mills, Ind. The right-handed hitter belted 31 home runs during his prep career, including 14 as a senior in 2019. Husmann was back at it in 2022 at NCAA Division I Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. In 49 games (all starts), the corner outfielder hit .277 (52-of-188) with 13 homers, nine doubles, 45 runs batted in, 38 runs scored and .908 OPS (.365 on-base percentage plus .543 slugging average). Batting in the No. 4 hole in the Braves lineup, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Husmann went to the dish with an idea. “Hunt the fastball in the (strike) zone and don’t miss it,” says Husmann. “I can do damage with other pitches as well, but I really don’t want to miss the fastball in any count.” While playing for the Josh Foreman-managed Moon Shots in the 2022 College Summer League at Grand Park, Husmann batted .352 with two homers, eight doubles and 15 RBIs. He also socked a homer in the CSL All-Star Game and made the All-CSL team as an outfielder. His offensive aim was to improve his small-ball two-strike approach. “I was working on keeping the ball in the zone,” says Husmann. “Cutting down on the strikeouts is the biggest goal I had this summer.” He fanned 67 times and walked 20 in the spring. Husmann did not enjoy much success at the plate his first two seasons at Bradley (2020 and 2021). In 28 games, he hit .189 (14-of-74) with three homers, two doubles, 14 RBIs and 14 runs. “Freshman year was a blur with COVID,” says Husmann. “The following year I had an injury that no one really knew about that messed with me mentally. “Baseball is a mental game for sure.” Batting in the 5-hole and doing well, Husmann fouled a ball off his left ankle. “It went down hill from there,” says Husmann. “It was something I was always thinking about.” There was a persistent cramping feeling. With air travel restrictions, Bradley had to hit the road. “We went on 14-hour bus trips back-to-back-to-back and I formed a blood clot,” says Husmann. “I was taking baby aspirin.” Husmann signed to play with the Duluth (Minn.) Huskies for the 2022 Northwoods League summer season. But injury caused him to stay closer to home and he was with the Grand Park league champion Bag Bandits (managed by Caleb Fenimore). That’s where Husmann began to get back on track. “I got my head right and just went from there,” says Husmann. At Bradley, he played for head coach Elvis Dominguez and works with hitting coach Kyle Trewyn. “When I think of Coach D I think of how he’s created a family environment,” says Husmann of Dominguez. “(Trewyn) gets you in a good place to hit. As you get older you can do those things on your own. He always stuck with me. He’s helped me become a better hitter overall.” Born in Valparaiso, Ind., Husmann grew up in Hanna, Ind. He played his earliest organized baseball in Hanna then was in travel ball with the Chesterton Vipers, Michigan Blue Jays and Chicago-based Midwest Rangers and subbed with other squads. “It was with the Blue Jays that I first got individual coaching and started to develop,” says Husmann. As a four-year varsity player at South Central, he hit over .400 each season and drove in 112 runs in 100 games. He was a Class 1A first-team all-stater. He was a classmate and teammate of Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Stars MVP Kyle Schmack (now at Valparaiso University). Ryan Kruszka, who pitched at Butler University was the Satellites head baseball coach. Former Valparaiso U. hurler Jared Miller was pitching coach. “They had that college experience and were able to make us a better team because of it,” says Husmann. “Our conditioning was college style. It helped me know what to expect (in college).” The first summer after high school was Husmann’s last with the Midwest Rangers. In 2020, he was going to play in the Northwoods League with the Lacrosse (Wis.) Loggers. When that team played a modified season because the pandemic, Husmann was able to get in his reps with the Long Boarders of the San Diego League. He learned about the SDL from Bradley teammate and San Diego native Connor O’Brien. Husmann, 21, will head back to college with two years of remaining eligibility. He is 10 hours shy of earning his Business Management and Leadership degree. He expects to be a graduate student in the spring while he works toward a Master of Business Administration. “If the (Major League Baseball First-Year Player) Draft isn’t an option, I’ll use that fifth year for sure,” says Husmann, a regular on the Bradley Athletic Director’s Honor Roll. “I thought of getting a minor or a second major. But an MBA is a way to separate you from others.” Carson is the second of Lance and Kim Husmann’s three sons. Cooper (24) played basketball and baseball at South Central and graduated in 2016. Cade (20) was in the South Central Class of 2020. Former longtime union painter Lance Husmann works at Hard Rock Casino in Gary, Ind. Kim Husmann has worked as a teacher’s assistant.
Karl Meyer is seeking a top-flight education while also getting to keep his competitive juices flowing on the baseball diamond. As he pursued joint major in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Management, the right-handed pitcher made 10 mound appearances (all in relief) and was 1-0 with one save for Massachusetts Institute of Technology this past spring. In 15 2/3 innings, he struck out 16 and walked 15. Andy Barlow is the Engineers head coach. Todd Carroll is the pitching coach/recruiting coordinator. “(MIT) is a really good school and it was once of the few places that I felt like I could play baseball. So I just broke down the elite schools for Engineering with D-III baseball because I wasn’t very big coming out of high school. I was like 6-foot-1 and 170 (pounds).” Meyer is now 6-3 and 210. “When I actually went into high school I think I was 5-6,” says Meyer. “I was always kind of overshadowed. I never really had the body or the physical tools to (get on the radar of D-I programs).” Meyer is slated to head back to MIT the week of Aug. 21 with three years of eligibility. The school in Cambridge, Mass., did not have athletics in 2020-21 so all athletes in the Class of 2024 were granted an extra year. His options down the road include staying at MIT (a member of the NCAA Division III New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference aka NEWMAC) and pursuing a masters degree or moving to a higher level. “If I get better at baseball — and my trajectory is looking good so far — maybe I’ll be able to make a grad transfer to some sweet D-I program?” Born and raised in Indianapolis and growing up in the Meridian-Kessler area, Meyer played at Broad Ripple Haverford Little League through his 12U season then was in travel ball with the Titans at 13U then with Indiana Primetime Baseball. Quentin Brown was head coach his 16U and 17U summers. Meyer owes a debt of gratitude to Brown, who was his hitting coach for three years. “He really just taught me to love the game,” says Meyer of Brown (now a hitting instructor in the Pittsburgh Pirates system). “I learned how to work at it and figure it out, loving the process. Not every swing is going to be great. It’s about improving day to day and pitch to pitch. “He allowed me to come into my own, build myself up with my tools and personal attributes and just allowed me to learn about the game.” A 2020 graduate of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Meyer was on the freshman team in 2017 and junior varsity team in 2018 and came up to varsity in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic took away the 2020 season. Jeremy Sassanella led the Braves program as head coach Meyer’s first two years at Brebeuf, followed by Jeff Scott. “(Sassanella) taught me about having a routine,” says Meyer. “He was the first coach to really instill the importance of having a routine with your throwing and having a healthy arm. That was one of the thing he always preach to us — that and playing hard. He was very adamant on us always giving 100 percent. “(Coach Scott) loved his players. I text him fairly frequently. He’s a really great friend. He has really genuinely cared about me as a person and my progression as a baseball player.” Meyer describes his arm slot. “It’s not quite over the top and it’s not quite three-quarter,” says Meyer. “It’s a bit of a hybrid — so 5/8 or something.” Throwing from an high three-quarter arm slot, Meyer employs a four-seam fastball (which has been clocked at 89 mph), slider, “slurvy” curveball and change-up. The 2022 College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., sees Meyer with the Local Legends. In the summer of 2020, he did not play while working an internship with IU Health in Decision & Support Analytics. He did throw some PlyoCare balls and some bodyweight movements. He was with the CSL’s Tropics in 2021. Karl, who attended Immaculate Heart of Mary School through seventh grade transferred to The Oaks Academy for eighth grade, is the son of Joseph Meyer and Dr. Angela Carbone. His father is an administrator for Indiana University Health. His mother is a professor in the IU School of Medicine. Karl has three sisters — Cathedral High School in Indianapolis and college graduates Teresa and Kathleen are older. Youngest child Caroline will be a Brebeuf senior in the fall.
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.”
Peyton Nisch has a torn left shoulder that doesn’t allow him to effectively swing a bat. But Niskch (11-0) can pitch and held No. 4-ranked Brebeuf Jesuit in-check much of the time in helping No. 1 Andrean (31-4) to its eighth IHSAA state baseball championship in nine final appearances at the State Finals. The 59ers beat the Braves 5-1 Friday, June 17 at Victory Field in Indianapolis. “I changed up my tempo; I changed up my first pitch,” said Niksch, a 5-foot-11 senior right-hander who struck out eight, walked two and yielded three hits and one unearned run over seven innings and 112 pitches. “Sometimes it would be a fastball. Sometimes it would be a change-up. “I kept them off-balance and they knew it was coming.” Said Brebeuf coach Jeff Scott of Purdue Northwest-bound Niksch, “I thought we’d get a few more hits off him. He did a really good job. Our kids battled through it. We had a lot of adversity tonight.” Andrean opened the 2022 season with Tennessee trip. On the way back to northwest Indiana, the team bus went past The Vic. “We’re gonna be there,” said Niksch and several of his teammates, predicting a future that came true months later. All the coaches said that the way we played in Tennessee there’s no way. We proved them wrong. That’s all that matters.” Dave Pishkur concluded his 42nd season as 59ers coach with his eighth 3A state title — all won since 2005. Andrean was state runner-up in 2004. “We won the state championship because of the guy that we beat,” said Pishkur after the 59ers topped senior right-hander Andrew Dutkanych, who is committed to Vanderbilt University but could been selected high in the 2022 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. “We beat a stud today. That’s a feather in our cap. “So seven years down the road when he’s pitching in the major leagues, (we can say) we beat that kid or I got a hit off him.” L.V. Phillips Mental Attitude Award winner Dutkanych (8-1) went all six innings and gave up eight hits with eight strikeouts and one walk over 102 pitches. Four of the five runs scored against him were earned. “I’m so proud of these kids,” said Pishkur. “They’re tough kids and they’re athletic.” Andrean swiped seven bases — three for junior Caleb Smith and one each for senior Alonzo Paul, freshman Mason Barth, junior Drayk Bowen and senior Kyle Tyler — and diving catches were made by sophomore right fielder Moises Vazquez for the first out and senior center fielder Billy Jones for the 20th of 21. The 59ers took a 5-1 edge with a run in the fifth. Senior Jax Kalemba led off the frame with a single — one of his three on the day — and courtesy runner Smith later scored on a sacrifice fly by junior pinch-hitter Angel Ramirez — who came in with just three at-bats for 2022. Kalemba’s plate appearance was kept alive by a dropped foul pop-up. Andrean pushed across a run in the fourth for a 4-1 lead. Bowen drew a lead-off walk, stole second, went to third base on a wild pitch and scored on suicide squeeze bunt by Vazquez. Brebeuf (26-5) pulled to within 3-1 with an unearned run in the third. With two outs, senior Anthony Annee singled, moved to second base on an error, third base on junior Jayden Ohmer’s single and scored on an errant pick-off throw toward first base by Niksch. The 59ers strung together five straight hits and scored three runs — all with two outs — in the second inning. After two strikeouts, Jones doubled, Nisch bunted for a single (and was spelled by courtesy runner Tyler), Paul singled, Barth produced an infield single and Kalemba smacked a single. Jones and Tyler scored on Paul’s hit. Paul crossed the plate on Kalemba’s safety. Scott, who had announced that he’s stepping down after four years of leading the program, talked about Friday’s game. “We tip our caps to Andrean,” said Scott. “They had a really good game plan coming into this. “We knew they were going to (suicide squeeze). It’s just a difficult play to defend in baseball. It takes the perfect bunt and they got it down. “We had one heck of a season and will have nothing to hang our heads about when all this wears off.” In going 26-5, Brebeuf got to its second state finals (the Braves were 3A runners-up in 2012) by winning 15 straight and 19 of 20. “We had an unbelievable senior bunch to lead the path for these young guys here coming up through the program,” said Scott. “I came in with these guys when they were freshmen and watched a bunch of kids work their tails off. “It gives me a lot of joy that they set the tone of our program and our culture.” Brebeuf’s next head coach will be Wes Neese, who has been a Braves assistant.
The 55th IHSAA State Finals for baseball is returning to a Friday-Saturday format with two games each day at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis. On Friday, June 17, the Class 2A game pits No. 7-ranked Centerville (21-5) against unranked Illiana Christian (21-7) at 5:30 p.m. ET/4:30 CT. Both teams are making their first State Finals appearance. Centerville has outscored opponents 38-20 in five postseason games. Illiana Christian has a run differential of 62-6 in six games. The 3A game features No. 4 Brebeuf Jesuit (26-4) against No. 1 Andrean (30-4) at 8 ET/7 CT. The Braves have earned one state runner-up finish in 3A (2012), the 59ers seven state titles (2005, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019) and one runner-up (2003). Tournament run differential — Brebeuf 47-5 in six games, Andrean 49-6 in five games. On Saturday, June 18, the 1A title contest is slated for 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 CT and includes vote-getter Tecumseh (19-12) and No. 3 Lafayette Central Catholic (26-6). The Braves won it all in 1A in 2003 while the Knights have carted off the state trophy on seven occasions (2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013). Tournament run differential — Tecumseh 58-15 in six games, Lafayette Central Catholic 62-7 in five games. The 4A championship is slated for 8 ET/7 CT and pits a pair of unranked clubs — Indianapolis Cathedral (18-10-2) against Penn (25-6). The Irish have reigned three times (2001 in 3A, 2007 and 2017 in 4A) with five runner-up finishes (2006, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2018). The Kingsmen have four state crowns to their credit (1994 in the pre-class era, 1998, 2001 and 2015 in 4A) with one runner-up (2017). Tournament run differential — Cathedral 59-27 in five games, Penn 33-12 in six games. Andrean’s Dave Pishkur, Lafayette Central Catholic’s Tim Bordenet, Penn’s Greg Dikos are all members of the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. A capsule look at the finalists:
Class 4A Indianapolis Cathedral Top hitters: Jr. Kyuss Gargett (.395 average, 3 home runs, 18 runs batted in, 18 stolen bases), So. Carson Johnson (.389, 20 RBI, 12 SB), So. J.T. Stiner (.364, 2 HR, 30 RBI), Sr. Ben Gomez (.342, 2 HR), So. Patrick Mazur (.341, 21 RBI), 13 SB, Jr. David Ayers (.247, 18 RBI, 16 SB), Sr. Connor Hall (15 SB). Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Ben Gomez (5-1, 36 strikeouts, 15 walks, 3.55 earned run average, 51 1/3 IP), Sr. RHP Dylan Haslett (3-3, 3.58, 56 K’s, 25 walks, 43 IP). Cathedral won the Pike Sectional (Pike 11-1, Lawrence North 10-8), New Palestine Regional (Anderson 14-4, New Palestine 11-7) and Mooresville Semistate (Columbus East 13-7). The Fighting Irish have won a season-best seven in a row. Saturday’s game against Penn recalls the 2017 4A championship game (a 4-3 Cathedral victory). Bishop Chatard bested the Irish in the 2022 city championship game May 10 at Victory Field. Cathedral head coach Ed Freje (Sixth season, 113-32-5) says: “We’ve struggled early and throughout to kind of find our identity on the mound and some pieces that worked offensively for us. We had some bad losses. We had some good wins. It was kind of an up-and-down year … Ben Gomez threw a great game, a complete game (in a 3-2 Senior Night win May 16 against Mooresville). I don’t know if that was a turning point, but I think it definitely gave the guys confidence to beat a good opponent. It was some momentum to build on going into the postseason … We make it a priority (to play a competitive schedule). We definitely want to play and see good teams to see where we’re at early and throughout the season — most importantly to see good pitching and challenge ourselves … We can learn from our wins and learn from our losses and grow through the season … Hopefully — along the way — we’re winning some games. Losing is something we try not to settle in too much in the program … We try to go out and compete everyday to win so you know the losses we took throughout weren’t easy, especially some of the lopsided ones (including 11-1 to Homestead, 17-1 to Center Grove and 18-8 to Franklin Community) … We’ve had games where we’ve had to battle and win in some ugly ways … One of the staples of the program when I was an assistant to Coach (Rich) Andriole was pitching and defense and holding opponents to low-scoring games and that — quite frankly — hasn’t been how we’ve won this year. We’ve been kind of fortunate to find some offense and find our bats here lately … Each team kind of takes its own identity and this isn’t the team from 2017 and it’s not the team from 2018 (which lost 4-3 to Fishers for the 4A title). This team is its own team. I’m proud of the way we’ve stuck together … It’s a special opportunity (to play at Victory Field). We try to tell our players it’s nothing to take for granted … It provides a little bit of reassurance the fact that we’ve been there.”
Penn Top hitters: Zach Hoskins (.412, 1 HR, 14 RBI), Jr. Cam Dombrowski (.409, 21 RBI), Sr. Ben Gregory (.373, 30 RBI), Jr. Adam Lehmann (.366, 20 RBI), Jr. Cooper Hums (.333, 2 HR, 16 RBI), Sr. Zac David (.313, 27 RBI), Jr. Evan Tuesley (.219, 2 HR, 11 RBI). Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Ben Gregory (3-1, 2.07, 37 K’s, 8 walks, 27 IP), Jr. RHP Brayden Schoetzow (10-0, 1.37, 62 K’s, 14 walks, 51 IP), Jr. RHP Adam Lehmann (3-1, 1.64, 49 K’s, 16 walks, 34 IP), So. RHP Joe Trennery (4-2, 3.30, 49 K’s, 18 walks, 36 IP). Penn won the Penn Sectional (Elkhart 7-0, Warsaw 3-1, Northridge 7-5), LaPorte Regional (South Bend Adams 11-0, Lake Central 5-4) and LaPorte Semistate (Zionsville 4-2). The Kingsmen are in the state championship game for the sixth time coming off an 11-game win streak. Penn has won 14 of its last 15. Penn head coach Greg Dikos (35th season, 793-281) says: “I think it’s going to be very good baseball … (Cathedral) is pounding the ball pretty good. That’s one of the things we have to stop. They score a lot of runs. They look to have some team speed … Like we did for Zionsville, we’re going working on holding runners and with our catchers getting rid of he ball. You know, making sure we don’t allow them any free bases … We want them to take a look around and enjoy the atmosphere because this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (for our players). I also want to make sure they understand the responsibility on their shoulders. The community is expecting a ‘W.’ … (Competing for championships) is the culture here at Penn … (Assistant coach Jim Kominkiewicz) has been involved for all six (State Finals) appearances. (Tom Stanton) has been involved since 2002. The kids see that we’re experienced (coaches) and I think that might take a little pressure off as well.”
Class 3A Brebeuf Jesuit Top hitters: Sr. Sam Reed (.444, 2 HR, 22 RBI), Sr. Will Schenkelberg (.426, 2 HR, 32 RBI), Sr. Luke Bauer (.413, 1 HR, 28 RBI, 19 SB), So. Will Loftus (.407, 3 HR, 32 RBI), Jr. Jayden Ohmer (.398, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 21 SB), Sr. Anthony Annee (.320, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 33 SB), Jr. Michael Finelli (.329, 22 RBI), Jr. Alex Cookerly (.241, 22 RBI). Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Andrew Dutkanych (8-0, 106 K’s, 24 walks, 1.02, 48 IP), Sr. LHP Sam Reed (5-0, 1.17, 89 K’s, 15 walks, 54 IP). Brebeuf won the Danville Sectional (Greencastle 10-0, Danville 11-3, Tri-West Hendricks 12-2), Danville Regional (West Vigo 4-0, Beech Grove 8-0) and Jasper Semistate (Silver Creek 2-0). The Braves have won 15 straight. Their last loss was April 30 at Center Grove (9-8). Brebeuf won the Marion County tournament championship May 10 against Lawrence North (13-3) at Victory Field. Brebeuf head coach Jeff Scott (Fourth season at Brebeuf and 12th overall, 131-100-1) says: “We never really talked about the State Finals this year. We had a senior leadership meeting (in the winter and throughout the season). One of the things I talked about was ‘let’s enjoy this ride here and let’s take this thing day-by-day. Let’s go work hard and enjoy each day and see where we get when this thing’s over … This is my last year at Brebeuf. I’ve kept that under my hat. I didn’t want to take away our seniors or our team (Scott, who is in his fourth season leading the Braves, lives in the Center Grove district and makes a long daily commute to Brebeuf and wants to spent more time enjoying his children’s activities) … We knew we compete on that stage and compete with that team (after the loss to Center Grove). I think our mindset changed a little bit … Sam (Reed) gives you a great look on the left side. He really works down and keeps the ball down. Where (Friday’s starter) Andrew (Dutkanych) will rely on the breaking ball a little more, Sam relies on the change-up a little more. That’s probably the noticeable differences between those two pitchers … It’s a huge advantage (having played recently at Victory Field). You know we were there last year. The majority of the team has played on that field the last two years already. When you first play there No. 1 you’re a little awestruck. It’s a beautiful venue and unbelievable backdrop with the city of Indianapolis there. So you have that factor. It’s really big (320 feet down the lines, 418 to left-center, 326 to right-center and 402 to dead center). The foul territories are much bigger and the gaps are much bigger that your normal high school field. Positioning the outfielders is very difficult at Victory Field, especially if you haven’t been there. Communicating is extremely challenging out there for some reason … (Andrean) is going to be well-prepared to go pitch it well and defend it well. I’m certain they’ll have a good game plan to try to attack (Dutkanych) as well — just like Silver Creek did this past weekend.”
Andrean Top hitters: Sr. Jax Kalemba (.460, 5 HR, 38 RBI), Sr. Billy Jones (.435, 1 HR, 9 RBI), Sr. Alonzo Paul (.434, 17 RBI), Sr. Miguel Martinez (.429, 2 HR, 11 RBI), Sr. Peyton Niksch (.425, 2 HR, 33 RBI), Fr. Mason Barth (.406, 1 HR, 43 RBI), Sr. Owen Walkowiak (.395, 18 RBI), Jr. Drayk Bowen (.355, 2 HR, 30 RBI), Jr. Chris Koeppen (.282, 2 HR, 13 RBI). Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Peyton Niksch (10-0, 0.22, 79 K’s, 15 walks, 62 2/3 IP), Sr. RHP Owen Walkowiak (5-2, 1.76, 59 K’s, 17 walks, 47 2/3 IP). Andrean won the Griffith Sectional (Griffith 10-2, Calumet New Tech 18-0), Griffith Regional (South Bend Saint Joseph 5-3, Glenn 4-0) and Kokomo Semistate (New Castle 12-1). The 59ers have won six in a row. The team reeled off 14 straight wins April 14-May 10. Andrean head coach Dave Pishkur (42nd season, 1,070-292) says: “The Penn game (a 4-3 win on April 29) might be the one that told me that we’re good enough to beat some of the really good teams. But we kept on getting better week after week (as the starting lineup from Day 1 evolved through the season as is typical at Andrean) … We went right by Victory Field (on the way came back from Louisville Ballard in late March). Our kids were saying ‘we’ll be there in two months.’ My son and I, we were kind of laughing like there’s no way we’re coming back there if we don’t get markedly better and we did. They prophesied that they were going to be there … This is a very athletic team. We put a premium on baserunning and putting the ball in-play … We’ve seen good pitching this year. The problem is Dukanych might be a step up from good pitching. He might be that elite generational type of talent … We’re fortunate at Andrean that we have a lot of good equipment (including a $14,000 iPitch machine which can deliver 97 mph fastballs, 76 mph breaking pitches and just about everything in-between) … With a good opposition (like Brebeuf) you expect good pitching. You expect good hitting. But, on the other side, they should expect the same out of us and you kind of hope it’s a well-played game.”
Class 2A Centerville Top hitters: Sr. Jamari Pamplin (.429, 6 HR, 28 RBI), Sr. Javontae Pamplin (.423, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 16 SB) , Sr. Keegan Schlotterbeck (.364, 2 HR, 27 RBI), Sr. Logan Drook (.361, 18 RBI), Jr. Jacob Crowe (.357, 1 HR, 26 RBI), Jr. Collin Clark (.338, 2 HR, 18 RBI), So. Kollyn Peed (.333, 1 HR, 9 RBI), Sr. Bryce Robertson (333, 18 RBI), Sr. Zach Thompson (.274, 1 HR, 14 RBI). Top pitchers: Jr. RHP Jacob Crowe (10-3, 2.13, 87 K’s, 14 walks, 62 1/3 IP), Sr. RHP Logan Drook (5-0, 1.30, 66 K’s, 28 walks, 43 IP). Centerville won the Centerville Sectional (Shenandoah 4-2, Hagerstown 14-8), Park Tudor Regional (Cascade 6-3, Heritage Christian 8-2) and Mooresville Semistate (Linton-Stockton 6-5). The Bulldogs have won eight in a row — including the school’s first-ever regional and semistate titles — following a three-game losing skid. The team strung together 11 victories April 20-May 9. Centerville head coach Tracey Crull (10th season, 120-94) says: “It’s absolutely madness. It’s crazy (the excitement in the community) … We have a walk-off (RBI single by Jamari Pamplin against Linton-Stockton to punctuate a two-run seventh) and we’re in the state title game. My phone, email, text messages, all kinds of messages have been blowing. It’s not just the Centerville community. It’s the whole county … We had a really tough week in May where we played our rival Hagerstown twice (in Tri-Eastern Conference Wayne County tournament games). We lost both ball games by a run (2-1 and 3-2 sandwiching a 10-0 loss at Lapel). After that week we had some long conversations as a team. We talked about focus. We talked about accountability. We talked about how we react to adversity. We then went on a run … We’ve had a stretch where we’ve hit the ball really well … It could be (Jacob Crowe or Logan Drook starting on the mound Friday). Logan gave up only one unearned run all year. They are completely different pitchers. Logan (who was the semistate starter) is a little bit harder thrower. He doesn’t give up as many hits. Jake gives up a few more hits, but he’s really good at keeping runners and batters off-balance with his motion and his delivery. It depends on whoever is feeling the best and having the best match-up Friday … Our boys like to see really good pitching (which the Bulldogs have faced in tournament play). I think it will be a good ball game (against Illiana Christian).”
Illiana Christian Top hitters: Jr. Kevin Corcoran (.471, 4 HR, 37 RBI), Sr. Ian VanBeek (.446, 22 RBI), Sr. Adam Walters (.410, 12 RBI), Sr. Tyler Barker (.373, 29 RBI), Jr. Cody DeJong (.351, 2 HR, 22 RBI), So. Isaac VanderWoude (.338, 19 RBI), Sr. Levi Hescott (.300, 12 RBI), Sr. Gabe VanRoekel (.282, 17 RBI). Top pitchers: Jr. LHP Kevin Corcoran (4-1, 2.194, 75 K’s, 13 walks, 44 2/3 IP), Sr. RHP Ian VanBeek (3-2, 1.474, 56 K’s, 6 walks, 38 IP). Illiana Christian won the Whiting Sectional (Bowman Academy 19-0, Hammond Bishop Noll 3-1, Wheeler 16-4), Whiting Regional (Winamac 11-1, Eastside 7-0) and Kokomo Semistate (Wapahani 6-0). The Vikings have won a season-best seven straight games. There was a stretch from April 25 to May 2 where Illiana Christian went 2-4 with two losses to Griffith and one each against Highland and Hanover Central. The team has triumphed in 13 of its last 14. Illiana Christian head coach Jeff VanderWoude (Third season, 40-13) says: “Last year we had a younger team. I thought we were pretty good. Last year we ran into Rex Stills of Wheeler and lost that game 2-1 in the (Whiting) Sectional final … This year our (Bible) verse is James 1:2-3. It’s basically saying consider it pure joy when you hit trials and tribulations because our faith has been strengthened … This team turned around when they started playing for each other and not themselves. Our team does that extremely well, I am 100-percent convinced that’s exactly whey we’re in this position … We try to play the bigger schools (around northwest Indiana) … Kevin Corcoran competes really well. He’s a very athletic kid.”
Class 1A Tecumseh Top hitters: Jr. Conner Anglin (.472, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 13 SB), Jr. Brody Julian (.383, 14 RBI), Jr. Drew Dupont (.341, 2 HR, 27 RBI), Jr. Dax Bailey (.387, 1 HR, 27 RBI), So. D.J. Dupont (.298, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 15 SB), Jr. Chase Jones (.263, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 11 SB), Fr. Mason Gogel (.256, 18 RBI). Top pitchers: Jr. RHP Dax Bailey (5-4, 3.35, 39 K’s, 22 walks, 54 1/3 IP), Jr. RHP Conner Anglin (5-2, 1.13, 28 K’s, 10 walks, 31 IP), Jr. RHP Drew Dupont (5-1, 3.00, 47 K’s, 23 walks, 42 IP). Tecumseh won the Cannelton Sectional (Northeast Dubois 9-8, Wood Memorial 11-2, Springs Valley 11-0), Loogootee Regional (New Washington 11-1, Barr-Reeve 4-1) and Jasper Semistate (Shakamak 12-3). The Braves have won a season-high nine straight games. The team, which has no seniors and four freshmen in the starting lineup, started out 1-4 and entered May 6-9. Of the 12 losses, seven are by two runs or fewer. Tecumseh head coach Ted Thompson (Fifth season, 77-44) says: “We started out struggling a little bit. Our four freshmen (Mason Gogel, Wyatt Huddleston, Braydon Long and Thomas Pemberton) were just learning how to play it at the varsity level. I thought by the time we were going to do tournament we were going to be in good shape as far as being able to compete at a high level … About the month of May everything started to click … Everything just really started to work well with our four freshmen and our juniors provided great leadership … We’ve made one — maybe two errors — in the last three weeks. It’s been really good defensively and we’ve just really played well … We try to load up our schedule (with 4A and 3A schools including Evansville North and Gibson Southern) to try to be competitive. We try to do everything we can to provide an atmosphere for our guys to improve … The first two weeks of the season we only pitch our pitches for 35 to 40 pitches. The second two weeks, which ends April, we don’t even get our pitchers above 60 pitches (with freshmen pitching often in relief) … For our young guys to really get some innings is going to be valuable for us not only this year, but next year as well … (The State Finals) is a brand new environment for everyone. They’ve never faced it before. We feel like we do a great job of preparing our guys for big moments. We put a lot of pressure on them in practice. We really drill them on a lot of different situations … We’ll definitely be focused on the Tecumseh Braves. We have a great philosophy and I believe we have a great system. We’ll try to give the kids an idea of what to expect. Lafayette Central Catholic is going to be a formidable opponent. We know they’re going to come at us with a lot of different variations of the game. I can tell you our players will be prepared for those moments. It’s all about execution.”
Lafayette Central Catholic Top hitters: Jr. Evan Dienhart (.462, 18 RBI), Jr. Owen Munn (.366, 1HR, 23 RBI), Jr. Ryan Schummer (.354, 2 HR, 26 RBI), So. Kayden Minnich (.270, 21 RBI), Sr. Justin Brady (.250, 1 HR, 21 RBI). Top pitchers: Jr. RHP Ben Mazur (8-1, 0.63, 96 K’s, 19 walks, 55 1/3 IP), So. RHP Brinn Robbins (8-1, 0.95, 61 K’s, 15 walks, 59 IP). Central Catholic won the Lafayette Central Sectional (Attica 13-1, Riverton Parke 8-0, Covington 10-0), Lafayette Central Regional (Union City 12-2, Rossville 10-0) and LaPorte Semistate (South Central of Union Mills 9-4 in 8 innings). The Knights have won a season-best 13 straight after a two-game losing streak. The team’s other setbacks came between April 1 and May 4. Knights head coach Tim Bordenet (27th season, 634-203) says: “We were kind of up-and-down until our (Hoosier) Conference championship against Western (a 6-1 victory on May 13 against University of Louisville pitching recruit Mitchell Dean). I think that was really the turning point. We had two games that week and were not playing that well. (Beating Western) proved to our guys that when we play the way we’re capable of we can compete and beat anybody … You’ve got to be able to get in a lot of hitters’ counts and put pressure on the opposing pitcher and opposing defense. Saturday (in the regional against South Central) we only had one hit for seven innings, but we did draw a lot of walks and hit by pitches and so we had a lot of traffic on the bases. I thought our approach at the plate was really good … We know we play a tough schedule and intentionally put ourselves in some adverse situations where we have to come back or hold on to a late lead in a close ballgame. Undoubtedly those situations have helped us here in the (state) tournament … We brought (junior right-hander) Evan Dienhart in (to pitch) with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh in a tie game … He got a strikeout and fly out to get out of that inning … Our outfielders have to have good angles at balls in the gaps (at spacious Victory Field) and not let balls get past them. Fortunately for us, our outfield (senior Carter Johnson in left, Brinn Robbins in center and sophomore Kayden Minnich in right) is probably the strength of our team and has really good speed … Our kids are pretty savvy. The moments haven’t been too big for them to this point.”
As Ball State University develops baseball pitchers, one approach does not fit all. Each individual is assessed and brought along while keeping in mind what is best for them. “We’re not making a broad stroke,” says Larry Scully, the Cardinals pitching coach since August 2019. “Everyone is different in terms of their needs.” Scully, who began his coaching career in 1992 and has mentored 16 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft selections, uses the example of a freshman arriving on the Muncie, Ind., campus in the fall. That hurler is introduced to Bill Zenisek, Ball State’s baseball strength & conditioning coach. “He gets a measurement of movement for all the players,” says Scully. From this evaluation, which includes a TPI movement screening, specific exercises are prescribed that will help them become an efficient athlete. Players are introduced to proper nutrition and the weight room and learn that terminology. Rapsodo equipment is used during bullpen sessions and the motion-capture data is used for development as is Synergy slow-motion camera feedback. Then there’s the throwing program. “We get to see how the arm moves,” says Scully. As a part of that there is long toss. Some will go long and high and up to 300 feet the day after they throw and others will focus on mechanics and toss on a line for distance. Through it all, a pitcher’s delivery is checked for efficiency. How does he start? How does he drive down the mound? How does he finish? Since Scully is Driveline-certified, the Cardinals will use bands, PlyoCare Balls and mediBalls in training. Bullpen sessions may be geared toward refining a certain pitch or location. A pitcher’s workload — heavy or light in terms of innings or the number or intensity pitches — will also play into training. Fall ball began at Ball State the first week of September and just recently concluded. Pitchers worked alone the first two weeks and were then incorporated into team practices and scrimmages. Then adjustments were made during individual work. Until Dec. 3, pitchers will work eight hours a week, including strength sessions and 45 minutes a day Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays with their pitching coach. “We’ll try to maintain what they do well and get better to help us win,” says Scully. Before coming to Ball State, Scully spent five seasons at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., where he worked with Braves head coach Elvis Dominguez. “We were one of the top academic schools in the Missouri Valley Conference,” says Scully, who also served as Bradley’s recruiting coordinator. the 2019 Braves led the MVC in earned run average (3.37), fewest hits allowed per game (7.21) and WHIP (1.27). What drew Scully to the Cardinals? “Ball State has a rich tradition in winning and developing pitchers,” says Scully. At BSU, Scully joined head coach Rich Maloney, who became the 27th active NCAA Division I coach to earn his 800th career coaching win in 2019. To date, Maloney is 877-581-1 (546-337-1 in his second stint with Ball State) in 26 seasons. He has coached 65 players who were drafted 72 times. He’s coached six first-rounders with only one being drafted out of high school. The most-recent is right-hander Drey Jameson (34th overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2019). Maloney paid Scully a compliment during the interview process. “Everywhere you’ve been the pitching staff has gotten a bump,” says Scully of Maloney’s words. The 2021 MLB Draft was very satisfying for Scully. Three pitchers who the coach helped hone his craft were taken in the first seven rounds — Ball State’s Chayce McDermott (fourth round by the Houston Astros) and Bradley’s Brooks Gosswein (fourth round by the Chicago White Sox) and Theron Denlinger (seventh round by the White Sox). When looking at pitching potential, Ball State recruiting coordinator Blake Beemer is often drawn to athletes of a certain build. “They are long and lean with loose arm action,” says Scully. “Others might not be that, but they may be left-handed and can get left-handers out. “Blake does a good job of finding low-lying fruit. Here’s something we can probably fix (about the pitcher’s mechanics or pitch selection). “There’s a lot of moving parts. Everyone sees the final product, but there’s a lot of work that goes into it.” Prior to Bradley, Scully was pitching coach at Murray (Ky.) State University (2014), Lamar (Colo.) Community College (2010-13), assistant at Saint Louis University (2007), head coach at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. (2000-06) and assistant at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa (1999) and Indiana Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa (1992-96). Dan Skirka was a Murray State assistant when Scully was there and is now the Racers head coach. Scully was born in Toronto and played at York Memorial Collegiate Institute in 1986. His head coach was Jim Ridley, who was later inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Ridley twins — Jeremy and Shayne — were teammates who wound up playing at Ball State and were both drafted in 2000 (Jeremy Ridley by the Toronto Blue Jays and Shayne Ridley by the Baltimore Orioles.). “Jim was a tremendous influence on me,” says Scully. “He was a terrific coach and a terrific person. “Some are just very lucky. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very good baseball people.” A left-handed pitcher, Scully competed in the Junior Olympics at 18U and then played for and coached with Rick Mathews (now in the Colorado Rockies organization) at Indian Hills and played for Joel Murrie (now with the Los Angeles Angels) at Western Kentucky University. Scully earned an English Literature from WKU in 1992 and master’s degree in Sports Administration from the United State Sports Academy in 1994. “It was my intent to be an English teacher and baseball coach,” says Scully. “I learned that’s tough gig. Both require a lot of time. Now I’m helping daughter now with her grammar.” Larry and wife Shari have six children from 30 down to eighth-grader Ava. Shari Scully has taught for nearly 30 years and is employed as a sixth grade Language Arts teacher at Tremont (Ill.) Middle School.
Andrew Dutkanych IV is a dedicated student – academically and athletically. During the current fall semester at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, senior Dukanych is taking nine courses and eight are of the Advanced Placement variety. During the spring semester of 2020-21, he earned a weighted 4.65 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale. As a baseball player – particularly as a pitcher — the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder has investigated ways to make steady progress. Dukanych committed to powerhouse Vanderbilt University at the beginning of his sophomore year at Brebeuf. In two seasons with the Braves (2020 was taken away by the COVID-19 pandemic), he is 12-6 with a 1.29 earned run average, 206 strikeouts and 35 walks in 119 innings. He averages 12.1 K’s and 2.0 walks per seven innings. His WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) is 0.84. He tossed an 18-strikeout no-hitter in the 2021 Marion County tournament championship game against Lawrence North at Victory Field and earned honorable mention on the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 3A all-state team. Jeff Scott is Brebeuf’s head coach. Wes Neese is the pitching coach. “He’s really good,” says Dutkanych of Scott. “He puts a lot on us players. He likes us to lead the team. “Coach Neese and I talk about pitching and planning.” The 18-year-old right-hander’s four-seam fastball has been clocked at 97 mph and regularly sits in the mid 90’s. He credits his training to his climb in speed. “I’ve had consistency in the weight room and with my plan and gradually added velo,” says Dukanych, who has been working on strength training and arm care since he was 14. Greg Vogt is the founder and Anthony Gomez the lead floor trainer at PRP Baseball in Noblesville, Ind. “It’s an independent thing, but I have constant communication,” says Dutkanych. “They devised a plan for me.” Pulldowns — aka Running Throws or Run ’n Guns — are max-effort throws with a running start in the off-season. They are often charted on standings boards, giving an extra layer of competition to training. “It’s it’s a tool that helps you condition your arm and gradually throw harder,” says Dutkanych. “If you want to throw harder you’ve got to practice throwing hard at times.” Dutkanych offers a comparison. “Sprinters sometimes run slightly downhill which forces their legs to move faster,” says Dutkanych. “With a pulldown, your arm is going to move faster. Your body can feel what 102 (mph) is like and that can translate to the mound. But I do pulldowns like three times a year. It’s more important to throw bullpens on the mound.” Dutkanych’s mound arsenal — thrown from what he describes as “a relaxed over-the-top” arm angle — also features a slider, curve and change-up and he plans to add a two-seam fastball. “I use a lot of my own ideas,” says Dukanych. “I don’t think I’ve had a coach call my pitches since I was 13.” His slider is characterized by its late movement. “I try to make it look like a fastball,” says Dutkanych. “When its good, it breaks late to the left and falls to the ground. It’s not a sweeper.” The curve spins over the top with downward bite. “I like to throw it for strikes because it freezes the batter,” says Dutkanych. The change-up is new. He did not throw one in the spring or at the beginning of the summer. Major League Baseball and USA Baseball hosted the High School All-American Game at Coors Field in Denver July 9 and Dukanych worked one inning. Dutkanych pitched two innings in the Perfect Game National Showcase July 14-18 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Dutkanych was invited to the Prospect Development Pipeline League in July. From the Top 96 in the country, he made the trials then the Team USA roster for a Sept. 2-8 seven-game Friendship Series vs. Canada in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. He started Game 1 and relieved in Game 6. Before that came one inning in the Perfect Game All-American Classic (July 29 in San Diego) and three in the East Coast Pro (Aug. 2-5 in Hoover, Ala.). Between them he began working on the change-up and began using it as another weapon. “This off-season I’m going to try to develop a two-seam fastball to develop at the bottom of the zone,” says Dutkanych, who also found time in the summer to play in Perfect Game tournaments with the Philadelphia Phillies Scout Team in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Atlanta and with the Indiana Bulls in Hoover. His summer number is often 84 since it equates with initials of “AD4.” It was just this week that Dutkanych the academic caught up on the classwork he missed while he was away from Brebeuf. In 2020, Dutkanych the athlete helped Canes National win the Perfect Game National Championship. He was with the team in events in Atlanta and the the USA Baseball complex in Cary, N.C. The righty is on a path to college baseball in Nashville, but there is a possibility that he could be selected high in the 2022 MLB First-Year Player Draft and decide to begin his professional career. Born and raised in Indianapolis, Dutkanych played at Washington Township Little League and then went into travel ball during his 13U summer with the Indiana Bulls. Before entering Brebeuf, he attended Westlane Middle School (an Indianapolis North Central High School feeder). He is the oldest of attorney Andrew Dutkanych III and grants manager Caroline Dutkanych’s four boys. Sam Dutkanych (14), Jack Dutkanych (11) and Luke Dutkanych (8) are all involved in multiple sports, including baseball.