LAPORTE | Lake Central won't blame the end of their season on the rain.
The Indians (23-9) gave up one big inning to Elkhart Central, a three-run third that helped lead to a 4-2 Blue Blazers win in the LaPorte Regional final Saturday at Schreiber Field.
"I think people would use (the rain) as an excuse, but we just didn't execute," L.C. senior Brad Staszewski said. "I think people would use the rain, but not us. That didn't affect us."
Elkhart Memorial's three-run inning came just as a short shower started in LaPorte. Nine hitter Mike Manisnak hit a single, followed by a walk at the top of the order and a single that turned into a two-base error. Pitcher Chuck Alexa tried to field the relay throw from left field to cut off Kaleb DeFreese at second, but the wet ball reached right field on the errant throw.
A run scored on the error, DeFreese reached third and later scored on a wild pitch.
The rain stopped by the time Lake Central came up to bat in the fourth inning, but the damage had been done.
Elkhart Central added another run in the fourth inning on a balk.
"I think we out-hit a pretty dang good team, we gave them a few runs and threw a ball into the outfield," Lake Central coach Jeff Sandor said, "but this is a team that at one point this season was 3-3 and they found a way to string some wins together and stay true to themselves."
The Blue Blazers played an 11-inning game against South Bend Clay to reach the regional final. Ace Tanner Tully pitched four innings in relief, so he could only pitch six innings against the Indians.
Lake Central scored twice in the fifth inning when Elkhart Central spelled Tully for reliever Riley Futterknecht to cut the lead to 4-2.
Elkhart Central and Lake Central have met each year in the regionals since 2011. The Blue Blazers took a 2-1 advantage with the win.
Staszewski was 2-for-3 with an RBI as the Indians scattered five hits in their first postseason loss since falling to Elkhart Central in 2011.
"Not every goal you set comes to fruition, but I like to think we got a lot of young kids a lot of experience this year," Sandor said. "Lake Central just won 11 consecutive playoff games before tonight. Name another 4A team in Lake County that has done that, I bet we're the first."