Ryan Pachowicz only has two home runs in recent memory, both off the same pitcher, six years apart.
Given his team’s 0-to-14 home run/fly ball ratio in last year’s regional semifinals, it’s a safe bet Pachowicz won’t be trying to move up the timetable on his once-every-six-years homer habits.
The Lake Central senior will patrol first base and man the No. 5 slot in the lineup as he has all year when the Indians head into a grudge match with Elkhart Central in the second semifinal of today’s Class 4A LaPorte Regional at Schreiber Field.
“Ever since our (8-3) loss (to Elkhart Central) last year, the first thing that came to mind was revenge,” Pachowicz said. “Our goal has always been to win a state championship, and this is part of the road to state.”
This week, the two-time DAC champion Indians (28-1) have emphasized line drives and ground balls and hitting to the right side as they prepare to atone for the upset loss in last year’s regional.
“The home runs will come when it’s the right time,” said Pachowicz, whose three-run homer cemented a 7-0 win over Highland in the sectional final and rekindled memories of the Little League (12) state tournament when he also homered off Highland’s Jordan Minch.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was going crazy. I knew from there on out we were going to win (the sectional).”
Pachowicz worked particularly hard this winter, and even though he’s received only a fraction of the accolades of some teammates, his drive for success and his occasional motivational speeches have spirited the Indians.
Last season, Pachowicz went into spring break as the starting first baseman, but then-senior Matt Siedentopf got a look and had a breakout season, leaving Pachowicz with only 20 at-bats all season.
After an 0-for-10 start to this season that included the game-winning sacrifice fly against Bishop Noll, he began to wonder if he was doomed to a reserve role again. He had been a starter throughout his life, including travel ball since age 7 with the Dyer Dirt Dawgs and the first team of many called the Lake Central AAU Baseball Club at age 13.
Current teammates Jimmy McNamara, Austen Wagoner, Zach Mantel and Taylor Lehnert were on the latter squad.
Pachowicz broke out with a sixth-inning, RBI single in a previously scoreless game against Munster and stayed hot throughout conference play. Through the sectional he’s hitting .360 with a .505 on-base percentage, 25 runs and 21 RBIs. He hit .389 in conference play with 13 runs and eight RBIs.
“He always seems to find ways to come up with big two-out hits or big hits when we need them,” L.C. coach Jeff Sandor said. “He’s a darn good kid. He’s a great student, great teammate. Take anything positive and put the word ‘great’ in front of it and that’s him.”
A prospective School of Pharmacy student at Purdue, Pachowicz speaks infrequently, but he has everyone’s attention when he does. Earlier this season against Valparaiso, the Indians were losing late, and he lit into teammates, who subsequently rallied.
“Winning has felt so good for us as a team this year,” Pachowicz said.
“We have a positive attitude that we’re going to win. We’re moving runners along, playing well together and doing the little things, which is getting us the quality wins in the long run.”