PORTER TOWNSHIP | While his coach downplays the significance of Hanover Central's final Porter County Conference tournament, there's no mistaking what it means to at least one Wildcat.
"We want to win it pretty bad," Dan Stum said. "They can never take it away from us, going out as champions. It's like a going-away memento."
Hanover (19-4) moved a step in that direction Wednesday, edging Boone Grove 3-2 in the opening round as Stum out-dueled Dean Hill in a match-up of unbeaten pitchers.
"(Hill)'s a lot like me," Stum said. "He's not a fire baller. He switches speeds. It's all about a sense of urgency. In a tight game, anything can change the outcome in the blink of an eye. It definitely keeps you dialed in."
Boone got to Stum for two first-inning runs, keyed by a Chuck Kidd triple, but failed to score against him despite racking up eight hits in the first four frames. The Wolves managed just one base runner from that point.
"We blinked first, I guess," Boone Grove coach Rollie Thill said. "You've got to complete the task. If you don't finish, you don't win ball games. We should've had (Stum). When you get a good pitcher on the ropes, you've got to get him out of there, but we let him get comfortable. We've been getting two-out hits all year, and we didn't do it today. There were little things we did wrong."
With the game tied at 2, Zac Maciejewski battled to coax a lead-off walk in the seventh and scored the go-ahead run when Riley Welch hit into a bases-loaded force play. Stum then set Boone (16-5) down in order to finish it, fanning Hill for only his second K.
"(Stum) keeps you in the ball game," Hanover coach Doug Nelson said. "He's not going to beat himself. He's not going to walk people. We had pretty solid defense behind him. Hill's a hell of a pitcher. We just made one more play than they did."
Stum also came up big at the plate, driving in Hanover's first two runs.
"You have to jump at the first pitch you see, because after that, you're not going to get too much to hit," Stum said.
Kidd and Caleb Narron had two hits for Boone. Maciejewski and Jesse Wilkening did the same for Hanover.
"There's a lot more to take out of it for the other team than us," Nelson said. "Any time you beat Boone Grove as a PCC school, it's nice, but it's just a win. Now we'll try to win Saturday."