MUNSTER | After Lake Central's 7-0 opening-round sectional win against Munster, coach Jeff Sandor eluded to the fact that his team has seen or will probably see the opposition's No. 1 or No. 2 pitchers.
"We've taken everybody's best shot up to this point," he said on Friday.
The Class 4A No. 1-ranked Indians have taken them on and put them down with authority all season long, and Monday night was Chase Fieldhouse and Ryan Pachowicz's turn, as they provided the offense in Lake Central's 7-0 win against Highland to clinch the Munster Sectional.
Lake Central, which won its second consecutive sectional title and 15th overall, advanced to the LaPorte Regional this Saturday.
After a Nick Kellams walk to lead off LC's bottom of the first, Fieldhouse, the No. 3 hitter, smashed one over the head of Highland right fielder Kevin Roach and cleared the fence easily to give the Indians (28-1) a good start offensively.
"Chase blasted that ball," Sandor said. "To get a good bat on Minch is tough enough to begin with."
After exchanging zeros in the next three innings, Austin Wagoner had an RBI single and then first baseman Pachowicz cracked a three-run shot over the left field fence off of Highland (11-19) ace Jordan Minch to break the score open to 6-0 after five.
"They're huge to me," winning pitcher Taylor Lehnert said. "They've been playing great behind me and they know they can get runs."
Like fellow Central Michigan-bound ace Jimmy McNamara, Lehnert (9-0) shined yet again, confusing Trojan hitters to the tune of seven innings of one-hit ball while striking out nine, including five of the last six Highland hitters.
"My adrenaline was going and I was up in the zone to start, but I settled down and threw more first-pitch strikes as the game went on," Lehnert said.
After LC's 9-3 win against Lowell to get to the title game, Sandor said the offense needed to wake up.
Pachowicz took that request and ran with it, and gave his dynamic pitching duo lofty praise in the process.
"Earlier we saw the wind blowing out and tried to hit home runs. I just got back to the line-drive approach and got one," he said. "I've trusted those two (McNamara and Lehnert) for so long. They're the two best pitchers in the state."
Highland coach Dan Miller credited his team's will to win and his starting pitcher's willingness to compete as well in a not-so-typical Highland baseball season.
"Jordan always gets the tough assignments and there's always a good chance to win when he's on the mound, even against the tougher teams," said Miller. "This wasn't a normal season because we were trying to build after losing nine seniors, but we worked hard to get better."