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KOKOMO — When the top three of the order of a team reaches base 11 of 12 times, good luck beating that team.

On Saturday at Kokomo Municipal Stadium in the Class 3A Semsitate, Andrean's first three hitters — Charlie Jones, Tyler Nelson, and Clay Thompson — found a way to get on base any way they could.

"It's not going out on a limb to say that the top of the order is the key to your offense," Andrean coach Dave Pishkur said. "If the top of the order is getting on, you're going to have a good day. If the top of the order struggled, you're probably gonna struggle. Those guys did a good job and set the tone."

With the top three reaching base at the clip they did, it was a good day for No. 1 Andrean, which rolled Jay County 13-2 in five innings to clinch the team's seventh state finals appearance, tying them for second all-time in the state.

It will play Silver Creek for the title on either Friday or Saturday at Victory Field in Indianapolis.

"It's kind of hard to put into words right now," Andrean senior Tom Schutz said. "The goal all season long has been to win the last game of the season and we have a chance to do it next week at Victory Field."

Andrean (30-6) recorded 12 hits — all singles — including a pair of perfectly placed bunts.

"The guys were really diligent," Pishkur said. "We've become a better team over the year, we were strikeout machines for the first two-thirds of the year. We changed our approach, sometimes we bunt, sometimes we slash. We've tried to create more ways to score instead of waiting for the big inning."

The 59ers plated four runs on four hits in the second, following with three more in the next inning and then five in the fifth highlighted a two-run single from its designated hitter Schutz, who was 3-for-4.

"Schutzy had a big game," Pishkur said. "He had maybe five at-bats as a junior and he's been mixing in and out as a DH. He's just a tough kid and the one thing I know he's gonna do is battle and he battled for those three hits."

The senior had high praise for its leadoff hitter and freshman Jones — who singled and walked three times with two runs — along with Nelson (2-for-3, two RBIs) and Thompson.

"They do a great job at the the top," Schutz said. "Charlie's on base all the time and you couldn't ask more out of him. He's a great kid that plays the game the right way and the other guys do too, they always perform in clutch situations. It's a good feeling down there in the six hole that you know you're gonna have guys in front of you getting on base for you."

Niners ace Mike Doolin moved his record to 10-1 with nine strikeouts as he held Jay County (20-7) to four hits. He had a two-run single in the fifth.

"I felt good on the mound," Doolin said. "The breaking ball command wasn't what I wanted it to be or what it needs to be next weekend in the first few innings but it got the job done and that's all we can ask for

He will get the start for Andrean next weekend in hopes to get a ring like his brother Matt, a two-time state champ with Andrean in 2009 and 2010.

"I grew up watching my brother win those, so that's been a dream of mine since I was eight years old," Doolin said.

It's the seventh state championship appearance as a coach for Pishkur who talked about the growth he's seen in his team over the season.

"It doesn't mean anything to me, it's the kids you're excited to see this for," he said. "I've been here long enough and I've done it and they haven't, so any time somebody gets to state then you're excited for them. The guys have worked really hard. I'll tell ya, we weren't very good at the two-thirds point but they've bought in to what I've asked them to do and they've got better."

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Sports Reporter

CJ grew up shadowing his father, Jim, at various prep events and now follows in his footsteps as a sports reporter at The Times. A Purdue University graduate, his allegiances lie with the Boilermakers, Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds.