Aubree Reichel | The Journal Gazette Members of the South Side baseball team celebrate after winning the Class 4A Huntington Sectional on Monday.
Tuesday, May 29, 2018 1:00 am
South Side 6 Homestead 4
Surprising Archers take home trophy
Win title in coach's final season
AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette
HUNTINGTON – Members of the South Side baseball team knew they weren't supposed to be where they were Monday when they played Homestead in the Class 4A sectional championship game at Huntington University.
But the Archers looked like they belonged, winning their first sectional title since 2012 with a 6-4 win over the Spartans.
“We were expected to lose in the first round (Wednesday) against Wayne and then nobody thought we were going to win that,” South Side first baseman Thomas Romero said.
“Then we faced the No. 4 team in the state, Huntington North. We won that, kept on battling, and we just won this against Homestead. I'm proud of my teammates.
“We didn't have any pressure on us. The pressure was on our opponents. It's just the beginning.”
Coach Sheldon Van Pelt kicked off his coaching career with the Archers with that 2012 sectional title.
A second sectional title seems only fitting to add in Van Pelt's final year as the head of the program.
“Being now that this is my last season, we're doing it again. I knew this team was pretty good,” he said. “I was hoping this team would come together after the Northrop game (a 9-8 win May 17).
“We jelled and came together and started hitting the ball.
“It's really exciting, especially in my last season. I want to go out on top, and this is a good start. We're not done yet.”
The Archers finished third in the SAC after they were predicted to finish fifth in the preseason.
“Just being confident (has been the biggest key),” Van Pelt said. “The thing is, we're not supposed to be here.
“After the Northrop game, we just dialed in, started hitting the ball and all the pieces just fell together.”
South Side scored the go-ahead and insurance runs in the fourth inning. Romero's single to center field drove in Xzavier Rogers to make it 3-2.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Homestead brought in reliever Zac Bradtmiller for starter Justin Miller.
Bradtmiller hit his first batter, Cole Hapner, to score Romero.
Bradtmiller then walked Jacob Sanchez to score Javarious Jones and give the Archers a 5-2 lead.
The Spartans mounted a comeback in the seventh, scoring twice, but the rally came up short.
“I knew they were a good hitting team,” Archers starter Lee Barrera. “And I thought I'd keep them off balance. When they were off balance, I hit them inside with a fastball.”
Barrera pitched a complete game, giving up four runs, three earned, on six hits. He walked two and struck out five.
Spartans starter Justin Miller pitched 32/3 innings and took the loss. He walked seven and struck out six. Bradtmiller struck out five in 21/3 inning of relief.
The Archers will face Carroll on Saturday at the Lafayette Jefferson Regional.