INDIANAPOLIS — Michael Doolin and Andrean spoiled the storybook ending to Silver Creek’s historic season.
Doolin, a 6-foot-3 junior right-hander, was almost unhittable, allowing only three singles while striking out a record 13 batters, in leading the Fighting 59ers to a 6-1 win over the Dragons in the Class 3A state championship game Saturday night at Victory Field in Indianapolis.
“The kid on the mound was really good. Everything we had heard about him [was true]. We heard he was good, but he was better than everybody said,” Silver Creek coach Joe Decker said of the Vanderbilt recruit. “We’ve seen good, but he was a different level good. … We’ve seen some really good pitchers, but he was the best we’ve seen.”
“Sometimes the underdog doesn’t win; it’s not always Rocky,” senior pitcher Sammy Barnett said.
Barnett, who had been dominant in the postseason, suffered just his second loss of the season and his first since late April. The 59ers, who rapped out six extra-base hits, struck an early blow with a 2-run third inning, then delivered the knockout punch with a 4-run fourth.
“We ran up against a very, very good Andrean team, a team that definitely lived up to all the expectations we had for them,” said Barnett, who gave up six earned runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out three in 3 2/3 innings. “I made a couple key mistakes during the game, missing my location on pitches, and they made me pay for it.”
Barnett and Doolin dueled for the first two innings before the 59ers struck gold in the third. Andrean’s No. 7 hitter, Joel Holtcamp, led off with a triple to the right field corner. The ball got stuck in the bottom of the fence and Silver Creek right fielder Dylan Whitt threw up his hands to signal for a dead ball — which would’ve resulted in a ground-rule double — but then plucked the ball from the fence and threw it in. Holtcamp ended up on third and was allowed to stay there. Whitt pleaded his case, that he had signaled a dead ball, to first-base umpire James Craig, but to no avail. It turned out to be a moot argument, though, because the next hitter, Nick Fushi, doubled to the left-field corner to score Holtcamp.
Fushi moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, then scored two batters later when Whitt ran down a fly ball off the bat of Tyler Nelson and made a nice running catch in foul territory. That, however, allowed Fushi to turn it into a sacrifice fly and score.
Andrean added four more runs in the fourth.
Doolin led off with a single that took a wicked spin and handcuffed Silver Creek third baseman Tyler Kapust. The next batter, Joe Rycerz, crushed a two-run homer over the left-field fence.
The next hitter, Tom Schutz singled up the middle, moved to second on a sacrifice then scored on a triple to the left-field corner by No. 9 hitter Matt Lelito. Charlie Jones followed with a double to nearly the same spot in left to make it 6-0 and chase Barnett.
Meanwhile, Doolin was dealing. He struck out six of the first seven Dragons he faced, and seven of the first nine.
“He was locating every single one of his pitches,” Barnett said. “His fastball he threw hard. [His] curveball was filthy. He just had all of us off-balance, [we had] no idea what was going to happen.”
Barnett had two of Silver Creek’s three hits. He began the bottom of the fourth with a seeing-eye single under the glove of Jones, Andrean’s second baseman, and had a two-out single to right in the sixth. However he was the only Dragon to reach base in the first six innings.
Silver Creek (27-4) scored its lone run in the seventh. Tyler Wheeler led off with a single through the left side. Doolin walked Kapust, then hit Holden Groher to load the bases. He struck out Drew Bush before Stephen Davis flew out to left field to score Ryan Sierota, who was running for Wheeler. Doolin then ended the game by getting Davis DeWitt to fly out to center.
Doolin established a new 3A championship game record with his baker’s dozen strikeout total. Of the 109 pitches he threw 75 went for strikes.
“He had command of two pitches in the zone,” Decker said. “He threw his off-speed for a strike when we were behind in the count. It wasn’t as much his fastball, though his fastball was really good, but his off-speed was even better. He kept us off-balance. … I thought the second time through we’d do a little better job with him after seeing him once, but we didn’t. He was better the second time through than the first.
“The third-base umpire said he had him last week and he was way better this week than he was last week and I’m like, ‘Go figure.’ I wish he would’ve had an off-weekend this weekend.”
But Doolin didn’t, and the best season in Silver Creek history ended one win short of a state championship.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them, what an incredible run,” Decker said. “I’m happy for them. Yeah, they were one game short. But I can live with getting beat, and we got beat. I’m not going to go home going, ‘If we would’ve done this, this or this,’ I’m going to go home and say, ‘The better team won.’
“We know how we’ve been the last 10 years. We know we’ve been a very good program. But I told these guys, ‘You guys were able to take the next step and that’s something nobody else has been able to do and you should be proud of that.’ I can promise you, our juniors, they’re going to go home and tomorrow they’re going to be going, ‘OK, we’ll be back next year.’”
CLASS 3A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
At Victory Field, Indianapolis
ANDREAN 6, SILVER CREEK 1
Andrean 002 400 0—6 8 0
Silver Creek 000 000 1—1 3 0
W — Michael Doolin (11-1). L — Sammy Barnett (7-2). 2B — Nick Fushi (A), Charlie Jones (A), Doolin (A). 3B — Joel Holtcamp (A), Matt Lelito (A). HR — Joe Rycerz (A).
Records — Andrean 31-6, Silver Creek 27-4.
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