WHITING | "It should have been over a lot sooner than it was."
That was the first thing uttered by Adams Central baseball coach Dave Neuenschwander.
Down 12-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Bishop Noll roared back with five runs and had two other runners on base with one out, bringing the tying run to the plate. But the Warriors' comeback bid fell short, 12-9, in the Class 2A Whiting Regional championship Monday night.
Four Warriors reached base to begin the wild seventh as Larry Crisler, Tony Cobb, Matt Sandoval and pinch runner Eryk Jones all scored.
After a sac fly and two singles, relief pitcher Isaac Luginbill was lifted for Dalton Combs, who got Jaylen Yarbrough to pop out and Crisler to strike out to end the furious rally.
Adams Central (26-3) came out swinging right from the start, as the Jets tagged Noll senior starter Chad Mateja for four hits and three runs and he didn't make it out of the first inning after facing five hitters.
Senior reliever Julian Guerrero came in and stopped the bleeding by retiring the side and stranding three Jets.
"I'd give the ball to Chad every day of the week and Julian battled and did his job," Bishop Noll coach Paul Wirtz said. "It wasn't either of their best days, but I'd go to war with these two every day."
Noll (26-4) answered with a run in its half of the first after junior center fielder Crisler walked, stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball, and was knocked in by a Cobb groundout to the right side.
Guerrero pitched out of another jam in the second after walking the bases loaded, striking out opposing starter Isaac Soldner and getting a groundout from third baseman Cooper Hill.
The Jets tacked on two more in the third after Noll walked its fifth and sixth batters of the game, getting RBIs from Luginbill and Conner Lengerich.
The Warriors' third saw an RBI double from Crisler and a sac fly from Sandoval, cutting the lead to 5-3.
But with two outs in the inning and Cobb on second, first baseman Danny Pobereyko launched on to the warning track in Whiting's long left-center field gap only to have Luginbill made a diving grab in one of the finest plays you'll see.
The backbreaker for the Warriors was the next half inning, as they gave up five runs in the inning, three of them on an error on a two-out fly ball to right-center field.
"We dug ourselves too big of a hole," Wirtz said. "We fought all the way through and I'm so proud of all of them."