Good enough: Rochester takes advantage of 8 Whitko errors, wins first sectional since 2014
Beehler during the sectional: 7 RBIs at the plate, 2 wins on the mound
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
WABASH – Prior to this year, Rochester had not won sectional titles in boys basketball and baseball in the same school year since 2007.
Cory Good was part of that baseball sectional title team in 2007, and on Monday, 14 years later, he saw the feat repeated as the baseball head coach with six players who play both sports. It was, in a way, a tribute to the power of multisport athletes and the late mentor who helped groom Good as both a player and a coach.
It was also the capper to a shocking season turnaround. They trailed Manchester 5-3 with nobody on base and two outs in the seventh inning on May 12, but they came back to win that game and have not lost since.
Tarick McGlothin had four hits and two RBIs, and Brock Beehler drove in two runs at the plate and also pitched a four-hitter to lead the Zebras to a 13-3 win in six innings over error-prone Whitko in the Class 2A, Sectional 37 final at Wabash’s Chris Rood Field Monday.
Avenging a 10-7 loss at home to Whitko on April 28, Rochester won their 10th straight game and improved to 19-11. They will play Delphi in a regional semifinal at Lafayette Central Catholic at 1 p.m. Saturday. Wapahani and Madison-Grant will meet in the first semifinal at 11 a.m., and the winners return at 8 p.m. in the regional final.
“I think in any big game like this, there’s a little bit of jitters, and you’ve got to work those out,” Good said after he was cooled down by a postgame ice bucket dousing. “You’ve got to keep playing. So I just think we kind of settled down a little bit. Brock settled down on the mound. I think that he had a little bit of jitters going early in the game, but just got those out and started playing baseball the way we have been really for the past couple weeks.”
“It feels good,” McGlothin said. “I’m speechless. … I obviously wouldn’t be here without the seniors. ... It’s not my first, and I couldn’t do it without them.”
The sectional title is Rochester’s first since 2014. Prior to this year, they had not won a sectional game since then.
“It feels great,” senior second baseman Kane Lutz said. “A long time coming. I think 2014 since we’ve had one. We hadn’t won a game. So it feels good. We finally got over that hump and now onto regionals.”
Rochester took the lead for good in the bottom of the third when two runs scored on a throwing error from shortstop on a ground ball hit by Gavin Young.
That gave the Zebras a 5-3 lead.
They added two more runs in the fifth on Quin Stesiak’s RBI single and McGlothin’s RBI fielder’s choice grounder and then closed the game out with six more runs in the sixth.
Beehler had an RBI groundout off the pitcher’s glove, Grant McCarter singled home a run, and Gavin Young drove home McCarter and Quin Stesiak with a two-run double to deep left to make it 11-3.
Easton Hylton relieved Max Platt and retired Kane Lutz on a pop to first.
But McGlothin ripped a triple to deep left to score Young and make it 12-3.
Ethan Medina’s grounder towards the second baseman was booted for an error – it was Whitko’s eighth defensive miscue – to score McGlothin, and the Rochester team erupted out of the dugout and encircled Medina, jumping up and down.
“We were definitely fired up,” McCarter said. “Because I was telling them after last game when they beat us at our place, we were walking back over to the high school, and they were on their bus like chirping at us from the windows, and I thought that was kind of trashy. So I was kind of fired up, and I think everyone else was too.”
It also marks Rochester’s fifth sectional title in the 2020-21 school year. They also won sectionals in volleyball, girls basketball, boys basketball and wrestling. Rochester was the only school in the state to win sectionals in those five sports this year, and this is the first time in school history that Rochester has won sectionals in the three boys sports – boys basketball, wrestling and baseball – in the same school year.
McGlothin, Stesiak, McCarter, Kyle Reinartz, Evan Elliott and Blake Hughes play basketball and baseball.
“It feels good,” senior left fielder Quin Stesiak said. “It feels pretty good. First one in baseball that we’ve had in our career. So it’s nice to kind of set the tone.”
Beehler walked two, hit four batters and struck out two. He hit three batters and allowed Aiden Hoffman’s RBI single in the first but struck out Logan Hoffman looking and got Andreu Rider on a foul to catcher Jake Seuferer to end the inning.
Beehler’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first tied it, but Whitko starter Jaxon Harper stranded two Zebras.
Whitko committed three errors in Rochester’s two-run second. With Young on second and Lutz on first, McGlothin reached on a bunt single, and when the throw to try and get him at first was wild for an error, Young scored and Lutz advanced to third. A wild pickoff throw to try and get McGlothin at first scored Lutz to make it 3-1.
Bryce Tucker led off the third with a walk and scored from first on Evan Wilson’s double to deep right. Nick Meadows was hit by a pitch and Logan Hoffman singled to load the bases.
Rider drove in the tying run with a groundout to Lutz at second base, but Beehler got Bryce Rhodes to pop to McCarter at first with two men in scoring position to retire the side.
Beehler reached on an error with one out in the third. McCarter singled courtesy runner Colton Ferverda to second. Quin Stesiak grounded into an unusual fielder’s choice on a dropped pop-up to left field in which Ferverda, who had to stay close to second in case the ball was caught, was forced at third.
A wild pitch moved runners to second and third, and Young then smashed a grounder up the middle. The Whitko shortstop showed range to his left to field the ball, but the throw he uncorked was about to change the tide for good.
Young, a freshman designated hitter, went 4 for 8 in the sectional. Prior to the sectional, he had not recorded a hit in a varsity game.
“I thought I batted really well,” Young said. “I haven’t had very many at-bats through the season, but they asked me to step up, and I hit the ball well.”
Beehler also beat Lewis Cass 10-1 in the quarterfinal on Wednesday. He allowed three hits and three runs in the first three innings but only one hit over three scoreless innings to close it out.
Good has played a part in Rochester’s last four sectional championship teams. He was a player for coach Brian Hooker in 2005 and 2007 and assisted Hooker on the 2014 team that won a Class 3A sectional. He replaced Hooker the following season.
“A lot,” Good said when asked how often he thinks of Hooker, who died in January 2019 at age 59. “We all got new hats, but I still got the BH on the hat. Some of these coaches will do. … Fun guy, great storyteller … But it’s really special to play for him and now coach after him. Definitely holds a little special place in my heart. I think about him often and pretty cool.”
Rochester 13, Whitko 3 (6 innings)
Whitko 102 000 – 3 4 8
Rochester 122 026 – 13 11 1
WP – Brock Beehler (6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 HBP, 2 K)
LP – Jaxon Harper (4 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 3 K)
2B – Evan Wilson (WHI), Gavin Young (RHS)
3B – Tarick McGlothin (RHS)
Rochester freshman designated hitter Gavin Young looks at a pitch during the Zebras’ 13-3 win in six innings over Whitko in the Class 2A, Sectional 37 final at Wabash Monday. Young went 2 for 3 with two RBIs. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)
Rochester senior Brock Beehler pitches against Whitko in the Class 2A, Sectional 37 final at Wabash Monday. Beehler pitched a four-hitter and added a single and two RBIs at the plate in a 13-3 win in six innings. Beehler finished with two wins on the mound and seven RBIs at the plate for the sectional. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)
Rochester players celebrate on the field after their 13-3 win in six innings over Whitko in the Class 2A, Sectional 37 final at Wabash Monday. Rochester scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth to end the game and avenge an April 28 loss to Whitko in Three Rivers Conference play. The sectional title is Rochester’s first since 2014. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)
The Rochester baseball team celebrates with the sectional trophy at Chris Rood Field at Wabash High School Monday. Rochester beat Whitko 13-3 in six innings to win their first sectional title since 2014. The Zebras will play No. 6 Delphi in a Class 2A regional semifinal at Lafayette Central Catholic at approximately 1 p.m. Saturday. The regional is set for 8 p.m. Saturday. (photo provided by Paula Beehler)