2018 Renegade HS Baseball Week-12 Poll for Northwest Indiana

A USA-365.com Special Report by Mark Smith


No Indiana high school baseball player needs directions to 100 South Maryland Street, Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis. Bone Grove and Andrean will play for state championships Saturday afternoon in downtown Indianapolis. (Photo by Mark Smith)

MERRILLVILLE (6-15-2018) Eight teams are ready for the 54th state baseball championships and the schedule suits Northwest Indiana.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) waits until they know which eight teams qualify for the finals before they make the schedule, setting one game for Friday night and three others for Saturday.

This concept will work especially well this year as the Class 4A game between defending state champion Cathedral (23-8-1) and Fishers (28-7) will kick off Friday night. Both schools are in the Indianapolis area and have no travel problems.

The schools that have to ride a long way to get to Indianapolis, which include Boone Grove, Andrean and Silver Creek, play Saturday afternoon.

Silver Creek (26-3), which plays Andrean, is in Sellersburg, Indiana, which is 15 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky. They've got an hour and half drive up I-65. Obviously Silver Creek vs. Andrean, which is 140 miles north of Indianapolis would have been a difficult game to play Friday night at 6:30.

Northwest Indiana's state finalists play back-to-back Saturday with Boone Grove in the Class 2A game at 2 p.m. EST and Andrean playing at 5 p.m.

And I have to take back something I said previously. In the past, the IHSAA internet feed, which is the only way anyone in NW Indiana can watch the state finals (Fox Sports Indiana is not available in NW Indiana), was bad. It froze. It dropped out. It was not watchable.

Last week's state softball finals were a significant improvement. The picture was clear. The sound was strong. Even on my out-of-time 6-year old home computer and monitor. If you can't get to Victory Field in Indianapolis or if you simply can't handle the West Texas style mid-90s midday heat scheduled for Indianapolis Saturday, I recommend the IHSAA web feed of the Fox Sports Indiana coverage.

1. (3A) Andrean (30-6)
26-9 (2017), 26-6 (2016), 30-6 (2015), 31-4 (2014), 27-3-1 (2013)

MERRILLVILLE: Andrean won their semistate game easily 13-2 over Jay County. Mike Doolin allowed four hits and two walks in five innings. Jay County (20-7), which upset Yorktown (24-9) in extra innings for the regional title, clearly had not played anyone like the 59ers. To win their sixth state title, Anderan must defeat the Silver Creek Dragons (25-2) and right-hander Sammy Barnett (7-1), who will play at Indiana University (with Boone Grove's Ty Bothwell and St. Joseph's Michael Dunkelberger) will take on a 59er team that has outscored six playoff foes 67-8 so far. Andean has won five state championships 2005, 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2015 in the last 15 years. Prediction? Class 3A public schools don't beat Andrean very often in the state tournament.

2. (4A) Chesterton (20-9)
19-9 (2017), 19-10 (2016), 16-16 (2015), 15-12 (2014), 20-6 (2013)

CHESTERTON: Chesterton lost a surprising 5-3 semistate game to Fishers. Not surprising that Fishers would win, but that Trojan pitching star Austin Peterson (8-2), who was 3-0 in the post-season lasted just 24 pitches against Fishers (28-7), giving up four runs in the first inning. The Trojans rallied from a 5-0 deficit, but they could not get even. I have no information on this, but I wonder if Peterson was 100% healthy. The 6-foot-5 right-hander was 15-0 as a sophomore and junior and 8-1 as a senior before the semistate start. Chesterton won a sectional (outscoring three foes 35-0) and a regional for the first time but I thought they were better than a Fishers team that committed four errors. The Chesterton semistate experience falls in the 'that's baseball' category.

3. (4A) Lake Central (24-7)
23-9 (2017), 27-5 (2016), 25-5-1 (2015), 23-10 (2014), 23-9 (2013), 32-1 (2012)

ST. JOHN: LC did not play either Boone or Andrean this season so they won't end up losing to (or defeating) a state champion. LC did lead 3-1 as late as the sixth inning in the regional semifinals against Chesterton (20-9) before losing 4-3. Lake Central won the sectional title and they won the marathon Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) regular season championship with an 11-3 record. The Illiana Christian team LC beat (Illiana moves to Dyer this summer so they'll probably be playing LC every year now) finished at 19-9. LC topped Crown Point (21-8) twice. LC defeated LaPorte (18-10) twice. I repeat. LC obviously had a good season, but the standards of winning are so high for them that even 24-6 and a league title can be a little disappointing to the players and coaches.
That should be a source of pride to the program.

4. (4A) Crown Point (21-8)
19-9 (2017), 19-9 (2016), 25-6 (2015), 17-13 (2014), 7-17 (2013)

CROWN POINT: Crown Point lost 1-0 to Hobart in the sectional opener and they watched the rest of the playoffs from the stands. Crown Point had not been shut out all season. The Bulldogs had won 17 of their last 21. CP right-hander Marek Bauner struck out 11, allowed just two hits and three walks in six innings. Bauner also was 2-for-3 at the plate. No knock against the Brickies, but the Bulldogs beat teams as good or better during the regular season. And one note: St. Xavier, a suburban Louisville high school squad that defeated CP 6-5, was still alive in the Kentucky state playoffs this week. St. Xavier is still the top-ranked team in Kentucky with a record of 35-2. Again, this was a good season for CP. The 5-3 win over Boone Grove and the 4-1 win over Andrean look very good right now. But nobody's bragging when they lose the opening playoff game.

5. (2A) Boone Grove (21-5)
2017 (13-9-1), 2016 (22-2-1), 2015 (20-8-1)

PORTER TOWNSHIP: The way the IHSAA has set up the baseball state tournament, you really only need one pitcher. Boone Grove has that guy. Boone Grove, which won a 1-0, 10-inning game over South Adams in the regional championship game, won a 1-0 victory over top-ranked Lafayette Catholic (26-4) to reach the state baseball championship game for the first time in 18 years. Senior Ty Bothwell struck out 13 and walked two against a superior team that had played a vastly superior schedule. Can Boone, which has a team batting average of .255, beat Southridge (25-6) and undefeated right-hander Logan Seger (11-0, 1.28 ERA) for the state championship? With Bothwell (9-2, 0.46 ERA 158 strikeouts in 69 innings), who pitched five no-hitters in Porter County Conference (PCC) play this season and has a 24-inning playoff scoreless streak? Sure they can.

6. (4A) LaPorte (18-10)
22-9 (2017), 19-9 (2016), 25-6 (2015), 17-13 (2014), 7-17 (2013)

LaPORTE: The Slicers will do some rebuilding after an early exit in the 2018 state tournament. LaPorte topped Clay 11-1, but then was upset by Mishawaka 3-2 in the 4A Sectional 3 semifinals. Mishawaka went on to win the sectional by defeating Adams (14-14) and they upset Penn in regional play before losing to Chesterton. There's a theory of the state baseball tournament that teams with good left-handed pitching do best (see Boone Grove) because most teams don't see a lot of left-handed pitching and can't simulate it in batting practice. Not this time. Lefties Noah Mathias and Chandler Banic allowed a combined three base hits to Mishawaka, but LaPorte could only scratch out two base hits in the one-run semifinal loss. LaPorte was 4-6 against Portage, Valparaiso Chesterton, Lake Central and Crown Point. The Slicers were 14-4 against everyone else. But here's another program (8 state titles, a streak of 42 20-win seasons in a row) that wants to be held to a higher standard. 2018 was probably a little disappointing for them, too.

7. (3A) Griffith (22-8)
15-15 (2017), 16-14 (2016), 16-13 (2015)

GRIFFITH: The Panthers lost to 3A No.1 Andrean 11-1 and they probably aren't that surprised that the 59ers are now in the state final game. On the other hand, the last team to defeat Boone Grove was Griffith 5-4 on May 21. I'll just speak for myself. I'm a little surprised that Boone is still playing. But it speaks well of Griffith, which graduated just two players off the playoff roster. This isn't news, but Andrean's state finals run means they will more likely than not move up to Class 4A again in 2020. Trouble with that, from a Griffith standpoint is: The Panthers will have their most experienced team (potentially 11 seniors) in 2019.

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