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  • Val T.

Bremen’s two-out hits, Lopez sink Rochester in sectional final

Paulik has RBI, run scored, but Zebras finish 20-7


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Carson Paulik

WABASH – Zach Rouch capped a four-run fifth inning with a two-out, two-run double, and Evan Lopez pitched a four-hitter with nine strikeouts as the unranked Bremen baseball team surprised Rochester 6-2 in the Class 2A, Sectional 36 final at Wabash’s Chris Rood Field Monday.

Lopez also had three RBIs at the plate with a sacrifice fly in the fifth and a two-out, two-run single in the sixth.

Lopez threw 125 pitches. The maximum allowable number of pitches one can throw in a game is 120, but Lopez was allowed to exceed the maximum per IHSAA rules to finish an at-bat. He had thrown 119 pitches before facing Jake Seuferer, and Seuferer grounded into a game-ending forceout on the sixth pitch of his at-bat. Had Seuferer reached base, Lopez would have had to have been replaced.

Bremen improved to 11-14 and won their first sectional since 2016. They will play Delphi in a regional at Lafayette Jeff at 11 a.m. Saturday. Delphi won Sectional 35 Monday, beating Carroll (Flora) 2-0 in the final.

Rochester finished 20-7. They had beaten Bremen 14-4 in five innings in their regular season meeting at Bob Copeland Field on May 18, but they could not hold onto a 2-0 lead through four innings this time. They did not face Lopez in the regular season game.

Rochester left eight men on base, including six in scoring position, against Lopez.

Meanwhile, Rochester’s pitchers walked 10 and hit two batters. Tanner Reinartz started and pitched four hitless innings while striking out eight, but he also walked six and hit a batter.

It marked the final prep baseball game for seniors Hunter Campbell, Tarick McGlothin, Ethan Medina, Brayden Zink, Luke Hunting, Kaiden Towell, Landen Bumford, Aaron Huffman and Elijah Jackson.

“I’m proud of the way we handled ourselves and kept competing this year,” Rochester coach Cory Good said. “Great group of seniors. Guys won 20 games, and 20 games in a high school season is a nice little feat, so just disappointed for those guys.”

Bremen then got to reliever Campbell for their big inning in the fifth after Campbell struck out leadoff hitter Reece Greene.

Baylor Orcutt then walked, and Silas Laidig singled for Bremen’s first hit. A.J. Ton then singled to load the bases.

Lopez appeared to hit a ground ball to Zink at second base, but umpires stopped play and called a balk on Campbell. That scored Orcutt and moved Laidig to third and Ton to second.

“Didn’t get one,” Good said when asked for the umpires’ explanation of the balk. “I didn’t go out for one. Nobody really on our side saw it. That was huge. I mean, if he doesn’t call that balk, it should be a double play. If not, just an easy out. … Big moment for that call. If he was going to call it, I wish it didn’t affect the game that much. Guys do tend to speed up a little bit when the pressure’s on.”

Lopez’s fly to Medina in center field resulted in a game-tying sacrifice fly.

Aden Hunziker then walked to put runners on the corners.

That brought up Rouch, the diminutive freshman catcher for the Lions. He socked an opposite field fly ball to left-center field gap over the Rochester outfielders’ heads to score Ton and Hunziker and give Bremen a 4-2 lead.

McGlothin relieved Campbell, and Austin Young entered as a courtesy runner for Rouch.

McGlothin hit Cody Czarnecki in the head with his first pitch. After Czarnecki was checked out by a Bremen trainer and stayed in the game, Young advanced to third on a wild pitch that got a short distance away from Seuferer, Rochester’s catcher.

When Seuferer’s throw to try and get Young sailed into left field, Young got up and tried to score, but Campbell, now playing left field, gunned Young down at the plate with Seuferer applying the tag.

It did not change the momentum.

Lopez retired the side 1-2-3 on three ground ball outs in the top of the sixth with second baseman Kaden Martin making a nice running throw going to his right to retire Campbell for the third out.

In the bottom of the sixth, McGlothin struck out Preston Williams and walked Greene. Good then replaced McGlothin with Huffman, who was pitching on one day of rest after a 39-pitch outing against Manchester Saturday in the semifinals.

Huffman walked Orcutt. Laidig’s fly to shallow left dropped for a bloop single to load the bases.

Huffman fanned Ton for the second out, but Lopez’s fly to shallow right-center dropped in for another bloop single to score Greene and courtesy runner Camden Hickman.

“Two-out hits, just timely,” Good said. “Those guys fought the whole entire game. You know, I told these guys before it’s going to be a dogfight. That’s the way a sectional championship should be. Unfortunately, just some timely hitting in some big moments there that Bremen came through on.”

McGlothin and Paulik drew back-to-back walks with one out in the seventh, but Lopez struck out Reinartz looking before getting Seuferer’s forceout with the end of his night looming.

“I think the story of the day is 10 walks and two hit-by-pitches,” Good said. “We haven’t done that at all this year. Moments like these are different. Guys are laboring. Heart rate is getting up there. It takes a little bit to calm yourself down and try to stay within yourself and compete, and a couple moments got the better of us.”

Rochester scored first in the first.

Paulik hustled out an infield single to the right side as he beat Martin’s one-hop throw by a half-step. He went to second on Reinartz’s grounder to second and scored when Seuferer reached on a throwing error after a grounder to third.

Lopez stranded courtesy runner Colton Ferverda at second in the first and Campbell at second in the second after another Bremen throwing error.

Reinartz singled with one out in the third and courtesy runner Zakk Parks stole second. Seuferer was then hit by a pitch. Lopez then got Zink on a soft liner to third to end the inning.

Meanwhile, Reinartz struck out Laidig and Ton to escape first-inning trouble after two walks. He also stranded two in the third when he got Laidig on a fly to Landen Bumford in right with two on.

Lopez pitched a 1-2-3 fourth, and in the bottom half, Reinartz got the first two batters before a lapse in control: He walked No. 7 batter Hunziker and No. 8 batter Rouch before hitting No. 9 batter Cody Czarnecki.

After a brief conversation with McGlothin, Reinartz then dropped a called third strike past Williams with a curve ball. The no-hitter and the 1-0 lead were still intact.

Gavin Young singled to lead off the fifth and scored two batters later when Paulik scorched a triple to the left-center field fence.

It turned out to be the Zebras’ final hit of the night.

“Paulik’s been huge for us this year,” Good said. “You know, you throw a freshman into the fire. He started every game but one … batted in our two hole. Between him and Tanner, I mean, their offensive numbers are ridiculous. He’s been huge for us.”

With the infield in, Reinartz hit a grounder to Greene at short, who fielded it on his knees and got up to throw Paulik out at the plate. That kept the deficit at 2-0.

After a wild pickoff throw, a passed ball and a walk to Seuferer, Rochester had runners on second and third, but Lopez got Zink on a pop-up to Greene at short.

The momentum was about to change.

Bremen 6, Rochester 2

Rochester 100 010 0 – 2 4 2

Bremen 000 042 X – 6 5 3

WP – Evan Lopez (7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 9 K)

LP – Hunter Campbell (⅔ IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K)

2B – Zach Rouch (BRE)

3B – Carson Paulik (RHS)


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