By Doug Roorbach
For The Herald Bulletin
GREENTOWN, Ind. —
The Alexandria Tigers sent eight batters to the plate in the first inning and scored three runs that held up behind the strong pitching of Donnie Dinehart and Blaize Kelly for a 5-2 win and the Class 2A Sectional 39 championship over Tipton on Tuesday night.
“The guys battled through three tough games to win this,” said Alexandria coach Jeff Closser, “including a 1-0 win last night in the seventh on a wild pitch. They are fighters.”
Cody Roberts got the start for Tipton but lasted only that first inning. Leadoff hitter Jessie Gassett drew a walk for the Tigers and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Drew Johnson. Johnson was also safe at first, beating the throw when Roberts failed to field the bunt cleanly.
Owen Young followed with a single that scored Gassett, and Derek Dinehart followed that with a double that drove in both Johnson and Young.
Dinehart’s twin brother, Donnie, started for the Tigers and kept the Blue Devils in check, giving up only two hits through the first four innings.
In the fifth, though, Tipton’s Bryce Calvin started off with a single to left. He was still there two outs later when Dinehart walked Boyd Kolby but scored when Riley Stoker singled to left.
Roberts lined out to shortstop to end the inning, but suddenly Alexandria looked a little vulnerable. Austin Hooker had come in to pitch in the second for Tipton and baffled the Tigers, setting down the first 10 batters he faced.
“He threw a lot of off-speed stuff,” said Closser. “Our guys are tough on fastballs, but he kept them off balance.”
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the fifth, though, scoring twice. Just like in the first inning, Gassett singled and then Johnson reached on a sacrifice bunt when the Tipton first baseman couldn’t corral a high throw from Hooker. Gassett went all the way to third.
After Johnson stole second, Tipton coach Brett Stoker gave Young an intentional pass to load the bases. Derek Dinehart lined out to third base for the second out.
After battling to a 2-2 count and then fouling off a half dozen pitches, Donnie Dinehart hit a sharp grounder that went through shortstop Hunter Jones, scoring both Gassett and Johnson and giving the Tigers a 5-1 lead.
Dinehart gave way to Blaize Kelly after giving up two singles and a run to lead off the sixth. Kelly set down six straight to get the save and clinch the championship for the Tigers.
“Blazer’s as tough as there is,” Closser said, “He’s only given up nine runs all year, and he’s pitched something like 73 innings.”