The Indians advance to face Brookville, the 11th seed, in a district semifinal at Eaton next Wednesday at 5 p.m.
“We’ve got so many young kids on the field and some guys still kind of figuring it out,” Hawkins said. “It’s nice to win, but we have to understand that this isn’t a seven-game series. It’s one and done. We’re not going to win another game in this tournament if we don’t play cleaner.”
Carlisle made it all the way to the regional championship game last year, losing to Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in eight innings.
Carlisle’s Brandon Saylor works on the mound during Wednesday’s Division III sectional game against Preble Shawnee at Sam Franks Field in Carlisle. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
“It would be really nice to get back to where we were last year and put our name on the map two years in a row,” said Stidham, a senior designated hitter/outfielder. “If we can keep swinging and cut down on the defensive errors, I feel like we’ll definitely be able to make it there.”
The Indians started Wednesday’s game with a three-base error on a fly ball by Chase Thompson. Eli Moreland’s RBI ground out quickly made it 1-0.
But the 19th-seeded Arrows (9-10) didn’t have the lead for long.
Carlisle sent 16 batters to the plate in the second inning. The Indians scored 10 runs before they even made an out. Included were three bunt singles, a triple by Moore, two walks, a hit batsman and a three-run double by Flatter.
Preble Shawnee’s Bo Higgins gets a piece of the ball Wednesday during a Division III sectional contest against Carlisle at Sam Franks Field in Carlisle. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Lefty Eryk Smith pitched into the second inning for Shawnee and was charged with seven runs. Teammate Nick Hibbard went the rest of the way.
“I really didn’t know what I was going to do,” Arrows coach Josh Hatmaker said of his thoughts while watching the second inning. “I had my senior starter on the mound. I thought it was going to happen for him, but things didn’t fall into place. He didn’t give up. I just needed to change the speed.”
Shawnee certainly could’ve called it a day after falling behind 12-1, but the Arrows responded with some grit.
They opened the third inning with four straight hits and twice chopped the margin to six, yet stranded 10 runners. They needed one or two more big hits to really make Carlisle sweat.
“That’s true, but at the same time, we know our kids too,” Hawkins said. “We just needed one or two more big pitches to get away from it, and our guys were able to make that pitch.”
Brandon Saylor threw the first 3.1 innings and gave up six runs for the Indians. Caleb Stewart picked up the win by allowing two runs (both unearned) in 3.2 innings of relief work.
Carlisle’s Nolan Burney bunts during Wednesday’s Division III sectional game against Preble Shawnee at Sam Franks Field in Carlisle. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
“We felt confident coming in having Brandon on the mound,” Hawkins said. “He didn’t have his best stuff. His fastball wasn’t as good as it usually is, but he battled and dinked and dunked and used his offspeed and got us to where we could bring Stewy in and let him finish.”
Carlisle split with Shawnee during the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division season. The Arrows posted a 6-1 victory last week.
“That’s a really good Preble Shawnee team,” Hawkins said. “I was impressed with them all year physically. Good-looking kids, athletic, good arms, good defense. Coach Hatmaker is doing a really good job with them.”
Thompson, Moreland and Cole Heger plated two runs apiece for the Arrows, and Luke Lovely was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Thompson added two hits.
Preble Shawnee’s Eryk Smith delivers a pitch during Wednesday’s Division III sectional game against host Carlisle at Sam Franks Field. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
“I was super proud of our guys’ heart and the way they fought,” Hatmaker said. “I told them we were just one hit away from really turning this around. If we didn’t have that one bad inning, I think we’re at an 8-4 score the other way around. But Carlisle’s a heck of a team.
“I thought we were a better team than what our record showed this year. We’d just have that one bad inning. I wish this crowd could’ve really seen the true Shawnee and who they can be because I’m telling you, they are spectacular when they put it all together.”
Stidham brought a .256 batting average into the game, but responded with three singles and a walk. The Miami Valley Career Technology Center student said he felt confident when he got to the field.
“I had a nice easy day at school,” Stidham said. “We went on a field trip and went to UDF afterwards, and when I came here and went into the cage, I felt good swinging. It was just an all-around good day.”
Carlisle’s Dane Flatter connects for a three-run double during the second inning of Wednesday’s Division III sectional game at Sam Franks Field in Carlisle. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
“He’s got a nice swing, and we see it every day,” Hawkins said. “He just gets a little anxious. He wants to contribute so much that sometimes it causes him to swing at bad pitches. He’s gotten himself out a lot with pitch selection, but tonight, he didn’t do that. I’m happy for him.”
Stewart, A.J. Keeton, Nolan Burney and Jesse Rutherford had RBIs for Carlisle. Moore, Rutherford and Saylor each delivered two hits, and Burney scored three times.
Preble Shawnee 103-220-0—8-10-1
WP — Caleb Stewart (5-2); LP — Eryk Smith (2-1). Records: P 9-10, C 14-9