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The seventh inning of a close game can be a helpless feeling for a baseball coach.

You can only hope the hours of practice result in your team performing like it was prepared.

Or in Dave Pishkur's case, you look for a little divine intervention.

On each pitch of the last frame in Friday's Class 3A state championship, the 59ers coach cast his eyes toward the cloudy heavens.

Pishkur wasn't checking to see if the rain, which had delayed the game for more than two hours, was coming back.

"I was telling the kids before the game, if you feel nervous, look up to Luke," Pishkur said.

The Luke who Pishkur was referring to was Luke DeBold, the 1998 Andrean graduate who went on to win two national titles at the University of Miami. Sadly, his life was cut drastically short by cancer at the tender age of 29.

"Today is (his) birthday," Pishkur said. "He was at the 2009 state championship game. I posted Happy Birthday, Luke, on Facebook. Every pitch of the seventh inning, I was looking up, saying 'Luke, Luke.'"

DeBold certainly had to be proud of his 59ers, a mix of solid veterans and talented youngsters who took down Jasper, considered by some to be the best team left in the tournament, regardless of class.

"Luke (Jaksich) was outstanding until the rain delay and Kevin (McCune) was outstanding," Pishkur said. "They've been our 1-2 all year. We threw strikes and we played good defense besides the bunt."

After the second delay, a walk and two bunts loaded the bases for Jasper in the fifth. Austin Alles was 2 for 2 against Jaksich, so Andrean went to McCune.

"(Pitching) coach (Joe) Plesac told me if Luke walked or hit anybody, he was probably coming out, so I had to be ready to come in," McCune said.

Jasper broke the scoreless tie on a fly ball to left field, but stranded two runners for the third time.

"We'll take one run there," Pishkur said.

Chase Dawson promptly tripled and scored to tie the game in the sixth.

"A great answer," Pishkur said. "Our seniors have been our leaders."

McCune induced a double play ball in the sixth inning, started by his replacement at third base, Luke Ginalski, right after he missed a foul popup.

Noah Davis reached on a scratch single with one out in the bottom half and Pishkur, not a coach who likes to sacrifice on the second out, had Parker Huttel bunt over runner Joey Albomonte. Clay Thompson followed with the game-deciding double.

"Who would think a freshman would come out and rope a shot to right center?" Pishkur said.

"Playing last year, I knew exactly how (Thompson) felt," McCune said. "He really stepped up in the biggest game of the year."

As the clock struck midnight in Indianapolis, Andrean's carriage didn't turn into a pumpkin. The glass slipper, or spikes, if you will, fit for the fifth time.

"I'm not looking to next year (yet)," Pishkur said. "We're going to celebrate today."

On the way back, the team stopped at a BW3s, where Albomonte took -- and won -- the Blazin' Challenge, downing 12 of the hottest wings they offer in two minutes, eight seconds. He was awarded a T-shirt to go with the night's other prize.

"If my teammates weren't there, I wouldn't have done it," Albomonte said. "I had some cuts on my hands and from picking up the wings, the sauce burned. That hurt more than my mouth."

With Jaksich, McCune, Davis and Thompson all back, Andrean will be well fortified in its move up to 4A.

"We juniors learned a lot from the seniors on being leaders," Albomonte said, "the work ethic and working with younger players."

The 59ers are looking forward to the challenge of the state's largest class.

"I think we'll still have a good team," Jaksich said. "We just have to be that much better. As seniors next year, guys like me and Noah have to lead. The seniors this year did that. This year we did it for the seniors. They helped and accepted the underclassmen."

-- Times Sports Writer Mike Nieto contributed to this story.


Sports Copy Editor

Jim is a copy editor for The Times who works out of Valparaiso. A South Central High School (1984) and Ball State ('89) grad, he’s covered preps most of his career. He received the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association’s Media Award in 1997.

Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.