By Noah Dalton
MITCHELL — For the first time since 1940, a Mitchell High School boys team has won a regional championship, as the Bluejackets defeated conference opponent Perry Central 7-1 on Saturday to earn the crown.
The game was a rematch of the April 21 matchup between the two teams, where the Commodores handed Mitchell their first and only loss in Patoka Lake Athletic Conference play of the season, going on to win the PLAC after an undefeated 6-0 run.
Though that win stung at the time, the Bluejackets got their revenge on Saturday.
Now, the team has reached the semi-state level for the first time and set a season-high in wins, with 26 on the year.
According to Mitchell head coach Jerry Chaney, the team’s success goes beyond just winning some games. This is the culmination of years of hard work toward developing a winning culture at the school and setting the program up for success for years to come, he said.
“You know, the PLAC is awesome, but the regional championship. This is the first time in school history the baseball team has ever won a regional championship,” said Chaney. “It’s big, it’s building a winning culture. This started five years ago when I first got here and for spring break kids would leave and we changed that culture. Now, kids are here all the time. They want to be here, they want to be playing baseball. There’s a bunch of little kids sitting here watching the Jackets win the regional and that’s what is going to build interest for the years to come when I’m gone and it’s just awesome man, 26 wins, who would’ve thought?”
To get it done against Perry Central, who beat the state’s number one ranked team for 2A, Forest Park, on their way to their sectional win in this rematch, the Bluejackets needed to play at the top of their game and that’s exactly what they did.
“We played a lot better today didn’t we?” Chaney asked. “We felt like a month and a half ago we let Perry off the hook, we should’ve been conference champions. I told the boys, why don’t we just play them again in the regional? And here we are. Rematch, the highly-favored Bluejackets did it. Small ball, I’m so proud of my team.”
Behind dominant performances from the team’s defense and starting pitcher Ben Seitzinger, they allowed just two hits in the game.
Seitzinger, who threw a complete game, striking out 10 batters and putting the Commodores away in 103 pitches, with just one earned run allowed, said the trust he had in his team’s defense allowed him to throw each pitch with confidence against Perry Central.
“I had trust in my defense the whole time, I felt confident going in with all my pitches and the defense played a heck of a game. Simon [Gaines] made four or five amazing plays and it was just a full team effort,” he said.
Mitchell scored their first run in the top of the first inning, after Simon Gaines led things off for the team, cracking a double off the first pitch thrown by Garrett Scamahorn, who was lights out in the team’s first matchup in April, striking out 11.
This time around, Chaney said the team was ready for the pitcher’s speed, spending the week preparing to see near 90-mile-per-hour fastballs at the plate.
“Well, last time I don’t think we truly prepared for that 88-mile-per-hour fastball. This week, that’s all the kids saw. 88, 92 all week and they were like ‘Coach, this is too fast’. This is what we’re seeing on Saturday and it’s going to be slower than this on Saturday,” he said. “Simon opened up the game with a double, so we were prepared. We were ready.”
Next to bat was AJ Sarver, who dropped a bunt to advance Gaines to third, before he was brought him to score on a groundout from Seitzinger.
The two sides remained locked in defensively, with neither scoring another run until the sixth, when Mitchell exploded to score six in the top of the inning.
The first two Bluejackets’ batters, Sarver and Seitzinger were hit with pitches, putting runners on first and second to kick things off. Next, senior catcher Carsyn Herald drew a walk, loading up the bases for Gibson Glassco, who hit a ground ball that Perry Central was unable to field in time for an out to keep the bases full with no outs and score Sarver.
Next to the plate was Ethan Turner, who bunted to allow pinch-runner Connor Teague to score from third. Again, the Commodores were unable to force an out on the play, keeping a Mitchell runner at each bag.
The Bluejackets would later take a 4-0 lead in the inning after Kody Earl was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, forcing home pinch-runner Jaydan King from third base.
Before the sixth was over, both Gaines and Sarver took turns batting in runs to extend their lead even further, ending the inning up 7-0.
At the root of their runs scored in this game were bunts, both from Sarver in the first and Turner in the sixth. Chaney said that is a skill the team will need to continue to hone if they want to continue their push for a state championship.
“I’ve been telling them, we’re going to have to bunt to win the game. If you want to win the big games, you’ve got to know how to bunt and today that’s what broke their back. So I’m really proud of them, they really got the small ball going. Great job, great team effort,” he said.
Though the team’s offense peaked in the sixth, they were able to make solid contact against Scamahorn from the first at-bat in this game, something they struggled with in the first matchup.
“The first two guys got on, he started throwing a little wild and then we started barreling the ball and the ball started falling,” Seitzinger said describing the team’s six-run inning. “At the start of the game, we were hitting it hard right at him and we started to get a couple to drop and it just went off from there.”
This win marks Mitchell’s fourth-straight postseason game played on their home field, in front of increasingly large and loud crowds. Being able to make history in front of the school’s home fans has been a special experience, Seitzinger said.
“There’s nothing like it. I think the entire town was here today and you just don’t really get that anywhere else, so it has been a really cool experience,” he said.
Now, the Bluejackets are just three wins away from being crowned Indiana’s 2A state champions.
They’ll next face Heritage Christian in the semi-state semifinal on Saturday, June 10.
Coming off what Seitzinger felt was the team’s best performance of the tournament, he said they’ll need to maintain this level of play, particularly on defense, to continue advancing.
“This probably the best game we played all tournament. In those first two, we kind of kicked the ball around but today we only have like one error,” he said. “If we just keep working as usual, we should be good.”
Chaney said the team will have to continue playing the game as they have, avoiding errors and remaining confident as the field thins out.
“We’re just going to play our game and people are going to have to beat us. We’re not backing down. We didn’t back down from any team this year. We didn’t back down from Linton and we’ve just got to fight, fight, fight and the kids know that and they’re determined to keep going,” said Chaney.
Batting2B: Simon Gaines
TB: Simon Gaines 3, AJ Sarver, Ethan Turner 2
RBI: Kody Earl, Simon Gaines 2, Gibson Glassco, AJ Sarver, Ben Seitzinger, Ethan Turner
SAC: AJ Sarver
FC: Gibson Glassco, Bryson Zeeks
HBP: Kody Earl, AJ Sarver, Ben Seitzinger, Ethan Turner
SB: Bryson Zeeks
CS: Gibson Glassco
TotalsTeam QAB: 15 (44.12%)
Kody Earl, Simon Gaines 3, Gibson Glassco, Carsyn Herald, Ashton Luman, AJ Sarver 3, Ben Seitzinger 2, Ethan Turner 2, Bryson Zeeks
Team LOB: 6FieldingE: Kody Earl, Gibson Glassco, Ethan Turner
Perry Centralmore stats
Batting2B: Garrett Scamahorn
TB: Garrett Scamahorn 2, Chase Hubert
RBI: Garrett Scamahorn
ROE: Caleb Gehlhausen, Caleb Hubert
FC: Travis Kellems, Caleb Hubert
SB: Caleb Hubert
PIK: Travis Kellems
TotalsTeam QAB: 10 (38.46%)
Garrett Scamahorn 3, Travis Kellems 2, Carter James, Ethan Ball 3, Chase Hubert
Team LOB: 4FieldingE: Garrett Scamahorn
PitchingW: Ben Seitzinger
Pitches-Strikes: Ben Seitzinger 103-66
Groundouts-Flyouts: Ben Seitzinger 7-1
First pitch strikes-Batters faced: Ben Seitzinger 19-26
Perry Centralmore stats
PitchingL: Garrett Scamahorn
HBP: Garrett Scamahorn 2, Travis Kellems 2
WP: Garrett Scamahorn
Pitches-Strikes: Garrett Scamahorn 71-35, Travis Kellems 43-25
Groundouts-Flyouts: Garrett Scamahorn 6-4, Travis Kellems 2-1
First pitch strikes-Batters faced: Garrett Scamahorn 10-22, Travis Kellems 7-12