June 2nd, 2017

Colts fall to PRP in Sixth Region title game

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

Colts fall to PRP in Sixth Region title game
DeSales' Brothers trying to slide under the tag of PRP's Tyler Redmon / photo by Eric Thorne


Simply the only way to describe the battle waged between Pleasure Ridge Park and DeSales when the two teams met for the Sixth Region baseball championship Thursday night at the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium.

In the end it was a single run scored in the first inning that lifted fifth-ranked PRP (36-5) to a 1-0 victory over the Colts.

Garrett Schmeltz (12-1), a junior-left hander and Louisville commit, struck out 12, gave up just three hits in a complete game tossing 112 pitches.

PRP coach Bill Miller, in his 35th season coaching the Panthers, claimed his 21st regional trophy and the first since 2013.

“The older you get you know the finish line is coming,” Miller said. “I’m just glad I’m getting to go there again.”

But he had high praise for his pitcher that helped make that happen.

“He grew up and became a man tonight,” Miller said. “He’s been our No. 1 all along, he wanted the ball and he did the job. When you have a Derby horse, you have to ride him and try to get to the Preakness. We’re going to the Preakness now.”

Meanwhile, Alec Brothers was trying to keep him and nine fellow senior’s playing together for at least one more game.

 “Alec is just such a great kid and did everything he needed to in order to win that ball game and should have,” Cataldo said. “Alec works extremely hard, as does everyone on the team. But he is so dedicated in everything he does and that’s why he’s been so successful both on the football field, baseball diamond and in the classroom.”

“Alec is a leader that everyone listens to him when he talks, and if you don’t bring you’re “A” game just look at Alec and he’s always over there working as hard as he possibly can.”

Brothers (2-5) also went the distance throwing 94 pitches, fanning four and allowing just five hits.

“Garrett really threw hard and kept us off balance, but I just wanted to do what I could to keep us in the game and give us an opportunity and hope for run,” Brothers said. “We tried to tire him out, make it a marathon and not a race, but we just fell one run short.”

The Panthers plated the only run in the first inning when Reed Blaszcyk singled and watched as Matt Cavanaugh lofted a ball high to right-centerfield that right-fielder Grant Thompson misplayed staring in the bright sun. The ball careened off his glove and past center-fielder Dustin Hollenkamp allowing Blaszcyk to score.

After DeSales (22-16) went down in order in each of the first three innings, including six strikeouts, Brothers got the Colts going when he beat out an infield hit to deep short. Sam Newkirk then crushed a liner over right fielder Dallas Glass.

Cataldo decided to waive Brothers home on the hit, but the relay was just in time and Brothers was out trying to slide under the tag of Tyler Redmon.

“I never really saw where the ball was or when the throw came home, all I saw was coach waiving me home,” Brothers said. “We knew it would come down to a run and we had to take some chances in a regional championship game.”

His coach agreed.

“Hindsight is 20-20 but he was throwing good pitches and Sam really got hold of it,” Catlado said. “But you have to credit the defense that was a great throw in from the wall and the relay was on the mark as well. If one thing in that chain of events is off slightly then Alec scores and we also have a runner at third.”

The Colts got one last opportunity in the seventh when Newkirk led off with a single to right field and Hollenkamp was hit by a pitch. Schmeltz then made the play of the game when he fielded a bunt by Gilly Simpson towards third, and against natural instincts, wheeled and threw Newkirk out at third. After getting Jordan Lacy to fly out, he struck out Brent Schiess to end the game and was mobbed on the pitcher’s mound.

“I was getting pretty tired out there in the seventh and the nerves were really rattling there,” Schmeltz said. “I knew they were coming late because they had seen me a couple of times by then. I just had to command the zone because I knew I had good stuff tonight - but the arm was getting rubbery.”

It was the Colts third straight loss in the regional final.

“This is our third straight regional championship game, and while we haven’t been on the winning end yet it’s really big for the DeSales program,” Brothers said. “Our season is so long and everyone has their ups and downs we just fought through it. We opened the new stadium this year and got a win in our last game of the season there so it’s a good memory.”

Cataldo, in his fourth season as the Colt’s coach, hugged every senior and reflected on what’s it’s been like building the program together.

“The four years with this group has been a lot of fun despite the fact they are walking out with their heads down,” Cataldo said. “When they look back I’m sure they will admit they enjoyed it and realize the amazing memories they all made together and the accomplishments. I’m sure going to miss each and every one of them.”

For Simpson, it marked the end of his sports career as he heads to Eastern Kentucky University in the fall to concentrate on academics. Even harder is the fact he won’t be playing with his best friends – something he’s done since little league.

“We knew it was going to be a hard fought game after we lost to them 4-3 a couple of weeks ago - and we just came up a run short again,” Simpson said. “But that loss seemed to turn things around just like every year. We don’t mean it to happen it just does. Down the stretch we play our best baseball. We always play our best all year, but in the playoffs our best just seems to get better – if that makes sense.”

Brothers, Garrett Matthews and Brayden Recktenwald were named to the all-tournament team for DeSales.


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