MIDDLETOWN — The Shenandoah High School baseball team, on a roll late in the season, continued its hot streak on a hot day by defeating Blue River Valley 7-0 Saturday afternoon for the Henry County Tournament Championship at Shenandoah High School.
The Raiders won their ninth straight game, and 15 of their last 18, to improve to 17-11 for the season after a 2-8 start. The Vikings slipped to 9-10.
Both teams had victories in Saturday’s opening round to get to the title contest. Shenandoah shut out Tri 10-0 in 4 1/2 innings, and Blue River edged Knightstown 5-4.
The Raiders had defeated the Vikings 15-5 in a Mid-Eastern Conference game just four days prior.
“We’ve been playing really well lately,” Shenandoah Head Coach Ryan Painter said afterward. “We’ve gotten really good pitching and timely hitting, and been able to take advantage of what our opponents give up. We hope to continue it in the upcoming tournament.”
Shenandoah senior Kaden McCollough pitched a great game in the championship game, hurling a two-hit shutout while going the distance. McCollough faced the minimum nine batters in the first three innings.
“I give a lot of credit for my success to my defense,” McCollough said after the game. “When they have my back, it makes it easier to pitch. The way we’re playing, we have a good chance to win our sectional.”
The Raiders got on the board in the bottom of the first inning off Blue River starting pitcher Tyler Williams.
Wyatt Lowder led off with a hit, stole second base, and scored after an error on Tanner Goff’s batted ball for a 1-0 Shenandoah lead.
After a scoreless second inning, Lowder led off the last of the third with a single, stole second base, and scored on Jobe Robinson’s base hit. Ben Acra came in to run for Robinson.
Acra went to second on a hit by Goff, and Blake Surface walked on five pitches to fill the bases. The next batter popped up for the first out.
Jasper Campbell then lit a long sacrifice fly to centerfield to plate Acra. Hunter Baker got plunked by a pitch to load the sacks again.
Michael Howard with the bags filled to force Goff across the plate for a 4-0 Raider lead. Williams struck out the next batter to finally end the inning.
Blue River’s Bryce Klein reached base on an error with one out in the top of the fourth inning, but McCollough retired the next two batters.
Sophomore Clayton Turley came in to pitch for the Vikings in the bottom of the fourth and Shenandoah added a run to its advantage.
Lowder led off by walking on five pitches, but was caught and tagged trying to steal second base for the first out. Robinson got hit by a pitch and went to second base on a balk.
After the next batter flew out to right field for the second out, Robinson moved to third on an infield hit by surface and scored on Connor White’s bloop single to right field for a 5-0 lead. Surface was tagged out trying to get to third base on the play to retire the side.
With two out in the top of the fifth inning, Blue River’s Layke Leonard walked on a full-count pitch and Ethan Blackburn reached base on an error. But the next batter popped up to end the half-inning.
The Raiders added their final two runs in the last of the fifth. With one out, Acra walked on five pitches, Howard reached base on an error, and McCollough got plunked by a Turley pitch to fill the bases.
Lowder’s fielder’s choice grounder enabled Acra to score and McCollough was forced out at second base. With Robinson at the plate, Turley threw a wild pitch that allowed Howard to cross the plate for a 7-0 lead and Lowder went to second base.
Connor Bilby came in to pitch for the Vikings and walked Robinson. Clay Conner came in to run for Robinson, and Bilby balked to move Lowder to third base and Conner to second.
Goff walked on five pitches to fill the sacks again, but Bilby induced the next batter to line out to the third baseman to end the inning.
Blue River went down 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth. With two out in the bottom of the sixth, Acra walked on five pitches and Howard got hit by a pitch, but neither scored.
Blue River got its only two hits off McCollough leading off the top of the seventh inning, as Tyler Sayne and Jared Catron hit back-to-back singles.
But McCollough induced the next batter to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and struck out the batter after that to end the game at 4:03 p.m. after 1:53 of playing time.
“Our boys played hard,” Blue River Head Coach Jake Isenbarger remarked, “but when you can’t get many hits, it’s hard to win. Our victory over Knightstown earlier in the day was a great game, and we were happy to win that after they beat us earlier in the season.”
Brief stories about Saturday’s opening-round games will be in Wednesday’s edition of The Courier-Times.