MUNSTER | Four hours, 21 minutes after Monday's first Class 4A sectional semifinal game was supposed to start, Munster and E.C. Central stood for the national anthem.
The road traveled to have Munster's baseball field playable for a sectional game took all of the four hours, a custodial crew, a baseball team and a team's worth of fathers, Mustangs coach Bob Shinkan said after his squad beat the Cardinals 11-1 in six innings.
"I have to give a lot of credit to my custodial crew, Mikey and Irena, who did a heck of a job out here, and all the fathers that showed up," Shinkan said. "It looks absolutely beautiful.
"That was complete mush (at 10 a.m.), when you'd step into it, you'd sink down. What happened was that we got the baselines set with the team and put down all the dry and got that ready, then the fathers came out there with the custodians, and they opened up the field."
With a tarp on the pitcher's mound and home plate during the rain that fell Sunday night and into Monday morning, the infield was "mud" Shinkan said.
When the 10 a.m. start was pushed to noon, and then 2 p.m., Shinkan said his players appeared at the field to help ready it for a day's worth of games. His fear of having one or many of the players injured or tired was relieved when their fathers strapped on the nail drag and raked the infield.
Munster pitcher Sam Bell wasn't fazed by the delay, taking no time to throw a perfect three innings with six strikeouts before allowing his first hit in the fourth. Bell finished with 11 strikeouts, giving up both hits to leadoff hitter Reyes Maldonado.
"Sam pitched a real good ball game," Shinkan said. "I'm really proud of these kids because we haven't gotten to a sectional championship since 2010, so they're doing a great job."
The Mustangs' leadoff hitter, Craig Dedelow, went 2-for-2 with two walk, a run and three RBIs. No. 9 hitter Alec Skalka was also 2-for-2 with a run and three RBIs.
Munster left the game-ending run on third base in the both the fourth and fifth innings, forcing a sixth as E.C. Central scored its only run in the top of the sixth.
With two out in the bottom of the final inning, Skalka hit a high, bloop single into shallow right field to score two runs and end the game early.
"This pitching staff has really come along the last half of the season," Shinkan said. "We're 21-8 now, at one point we were 6-5, and so we're on a 15-3 run right now. Two of our losses are to Andrean back-to-back and then to Bishop Noll, those are our three losses."
Munster will play the winner of the Lake Central vs. Morton game that was played about 45 minutes after the end of the first game.
Officials at the field planned to determine if the championship game would be played Monday after the end of the second semifinal.