May 27—ANDERSON — Daleville waited nearly two years to play another postseason baseball game. The Broncos quickly made up for lost time.
Playing the second game of Class 1A Sectional 55 at Memorial Field on Wednesday, Daleville breezed past winless Tri-Central 18-0 with another star turn from Ball State-bound senior Cayden Gothrup. In the opener, Liberty Christian ran into a buzzsaw during an 11-0 loss against Wes-Del and ace pitcher Zack Todd.
Gothrup, the area’s leading pitcher all spring, did not start on the mound for the Broncos. The powerful left-hander felt some soreness in his throwing arm during the recent Delaware County tournament, and coach Terry Turner made the call to temporarily shut him down.
No problem. Gothrup did plenty of damage with his bat — going 2-for-4 with a pair of triples, five RBI and four runs scored. He also pitched the bottom of the fifth inning, striking out the side on nine pitches.
“It’s great,” Turner said of the victory that sends Daleville into Monday’s semifinals. “It’s been a long time since we got to play in a sectional game, and obviously last year we had a phenomenal team. This group is young, but they are coming along.”
Senior Zach Shepler got the win for the Broncos (10-13), surrendering just three hits and striking out seven over four solid innings. Cameron Cooper led off the bottom of the first with a long double off the left-field fence, and Daetyn Horn reached on a sacrifice bunt attempt that looked like it might start a Trojans rally.
But Shepler retired the next six batters he faced — with four strikeouts — and allowed just one more baserunner the rest of the way.
“Shepler’s throwing strikes now,” Turner said. “Early in the season, he had a hard time hitting the backstop. But he’s really come a long way, and he’s been pitching really well.”
Daleville got all the runs it needed in the first inning when Gothrup tripled in a pair and scored himself on a sacrifice fly by Drew Watson.
Watson — who finished 2-for-3 with four RBI — also drove in a run with a single during a three-run second inning. The Broncos’ other two runs in the frame scored as a result of two of Tri-Central’s eight errors.
The big inning for Daleville came in the fourth when 15 batters came to the plate and 11 scored. The Broncos had five hits in the stanza including a double by J.T. Nelson and triples by Zach Neff and Gothrup.
Neff drove in two runs during the rally and was one of four players to score twice. Gothrup, Nelson and Watson were the others.
The Broncos scored their final run in the fifth when pinch-hitter Robert Wilson singled and scored on a single by Watson. Daleville substituted liberally during the frame and never took more than one base at a time.
“This group of kids has finished strong,” Turner said.
The Broncos will face the winner of Thursday’s game between Southern Wells and Anderson Prep in Monday’s second semifinal.
The first will pit Delaware County rivals Cowan and Wes-Del (20-7) against one another after the Warriors got past Liberty Christian.
Tyler Houck broke up a perfect game with a two-out single in the fourth inning, and Aaron Woodyard drew a two-out walk in the fifth. Those were the only baserunners allowed by Todd, who went to a three-ball count against just three batters while recording 13 of his 15 outs by strikeout.
After Beckham Chappell led off the game with a groundout to first base, Todd struck out 10 consecutive batters before Houck’s single.
The Lions trailed just 4-0 after three innings behind a bulldog performance by Chappell — who scattered five hits over 3 1/3 innings. But the Warriors came alive in the fourth, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring seven runs to put the game away.
Dawson Bookout was Wes-Del’s offensive star, finishing 2-for-2 with a triple and four RBI.
Liberty Christian (4-24) bids farewell to five seniors — Aidan Smith, Jared Helm, Noah Smith, Benjamin Webb and Spencer Lamb.