KOKOMO | The first inning told the story of Saturday's Class A Northern Semistate and it wasn't a happy ending for Washington Township at Highland Park.
The Senators left the bases loaded and Rockville struck for four runs, which carried the Rox to a 5-1 victory and a berth in the state championship game.
"We didn't know it at the time, but that ended up being the game," Senators coach Randy Roberts said. "We couldn't get the key hit and they did. That's huge either way. If they get out of it, it's a huge emotional charge for them. If we get a hit, we're raring to go. They did what they needed to do to win and we didn't."
Washington (23-9) put two on with one out against Rox sophomore pitcher Dalton Laney and had the bases loaded with two out, but Bryce Pappas popped out to shallow center. It was an omen of things to come as the Senators stranded a runner in the first six innings before going 1-2-3 in the seventh.
"He was good, but we left 10 on base," Roberts said. "I thought we had him on the ropes in the first inning. He was wild. Still, we were always just one, two hits away many times with multiple people on base. A couple hits in those situations and it's a different ball game."
Rockville (28-3) took advantage of wildness from Washington pitcher Jake Goodan's early in the game. He walked two of the first four batters and both scored. Dalton Clark's two-run single highlighted the frame, which saw the Rox bat around.
"That was a killer," Goodan said. "They were real tough. They kept fouling off pitches. But I can't let that happen. Once they get a couple, I've got to stop it. Four runs was too much. I didn't pitch good enough to get us out of the inning."
Goodan allowed just one run and two hits the rest of the way, but the damage was done.
"That's been my thing all year," he said. "I wasn't settled in yet. My slow start might've cost us the game."
Washington put two on with one out in the third, but Laney struck out the next two. Jordan Williams singled inside third to score Troy Kwiatkowski with the Senators' only run.
"We had runners in scoring position and we weren't able to pull the trigger," Kwiatkowski said. "Coach said he doesn't care what our batting average is. He cares what our batting average is with two outs and a guy on second. We weren't able to score."
Laney, featuring a fastball in the mid 80s and a tight curve ball, fanned 10, including everyone but Kwiatkowski at least once.
"You could see they were on my fastball pretty well. They were going opposite field," Laney said. "(My curve)'s tough to read. It's like my insurance."