WHITING — Central Noble scored first, but Eastside responded with 10 runs in the second on the way to an 18-3 six-inning win in the championship game of the Whiting Regional Saturday evening.
For the Blazers (25-6), it was the first regional championship in program history. They also set a team record for most wins in a season.
They will play Delphi in the North Semi-state at either LaPorte or Kokomo Saturday. The Oracles defeated Wapahani 7-2 in the other north regional championship.
“It feels great,” Blazer head coach Aaron Willard said afterwards. “That one inning was just unbelievable how we hit the baseball.
“A few guys were due, and we all hit together,” he said. “Owen threw a great game the first game (a 7-1 win over Wheeler), and for the most part, we played pretty good baseball today.
“It’s down to the final four. It’s neat that we’re the only ones who’s ever done it, but I don’t think this team has settled yet,” Willard said. “They’ve steadily improved each week.”
Dylan Hertig had a single, double and home run, driving in four runs. Caleb Vanover also homered. Jack Buchanan and Hayden Gardner had two hits each for the Blazers. Buchanan drove in four runs and Gardner knocked in one.
The Cougars (15-15) got the game’s first run as Dylan Eggl singled and took second on an error. He moved to third on another Eastside fielding error and came home on Jaxon Copas’ sacrifice fly.
It was all Eastside after that.
Copas retired the side 1-2-3 in the first, but didn’t make it out of second as the Blazers sent 15 batters to the plate.
Vanover was hit by a pitch to start the inning. After Gardner reached on an infield hit, Buchanan brought both runners home with a double down the left field line.
Wade Miller drove in two with a single down the right field line. Hertig clobbered one over the 30-foot tall brick monster in left field. Buchanan, batting for the second time in the inning, ended the barrage with a two-run single.
The Blazers added two more in the third, with Vanover putting one over the brick monster to make it 12-1.
Central Noble didn’t quit, picking up two runs in the fifth as Copas lined a double over the center fielder’s head to bring in Eggl and Will Hoover.
Eastside scored six times in the sixth to close out the scoring.
Caeden Moughler pitched a complete game for the Blazers, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out three.
“There’s nothing to hang our heads about. We had a heck of a season. We just ran out of steam there at the end,” Cougar coach Tyler Graybeal said.
Earlier in the day, the Cougars made some history of their own, defeating Boone Grove 3-2 in nine innings.
“It’s the first regional game we’ve won in school history, so the boys have nothing to hang their heads about and everything to be proud of,” he said.
The Cougars learned a lot about themselves in an early-season five-game losing streak, including losses to Homestead and East Noble.
“We played a lot of tough teams to get us ready. The whole angle was to win a sectional and get to regional,” Graybeal said. “Going through that little losing stretch helped us, seeing better competition.”