A year ago Westview came within one out of winning a 2A baseball sectional title.
Saturday afternoon in Emma against county rival Prairie Heights, the Warriors left nothing to chance.
Pounding out 15 hits and taking advantage of five Panther errors, coach Jason Rahn’s Westview squad rolled to a 13-0 victory.
“We came out swinging,” said Rahn, whose 20-5 Warriors advance to the 2A regional at Whiting this Saturday. “This team has been under a lot of self-imposed pressure all season to reach this point and I couldn’t be prouder of the way they responded.”
Westview junior lead-off man Jacob Berkey set the tone on the game’s first pitch, socking a double to the gap in right-center field. Berkey would later score the tilt’s first run on the back-end of a double-steal.
“When he (Berkey) leads off the game with a hit, we score,” Rahn observed. “Jacob ignites our offense.”
Leading 2-0 entering the fourth inning, the Warriors stretched their edge to 6-0 with a four-spot. Sophomore Chase Anderson began the frame with a double and scored on a Prairie Heights miscue. Singles by junior John Yoder and senior Hunter Christner added fuel to the rally, while an RBI double by Berkey and a run-scoring single off the bat of Judah Zickafoose capped it.
With his offense providing a working margin, Westview starter Houston Haney settled in to toss five strong innings of shutout ball. The freshman gave up three hits, walked four and struckout five.
“Houston did exactly what we wanted him to do: throw strikes and let the defense work,” said Rahn. “When he’s on the mound, it allows us to put our best defense on the field.”
Christner cracked a solo homer in the sixth to boost the difference to 7-0. The designated hitter then culminated his 4-4 day at the dish with an RBI double in the seventh, part of a seven-run Warrior outburst that put the game even further out of the Panthers’ reach.
“Hunter is a kid that’s really worked his tail off to be a better player,” cited Rahn. “We have a lot of kids like Hunter who have dedicated themselves to this team.”
Kohle Christner, a senior catcher, contributed a two-run single to the Warriors’ closing salvo. Knocking in one run apiece with safeties were Anderson and seniors Jamar Weaver and Jamin Lambright. Zickafoose led off the last frame with a triple.
Weaver came on in the sixth inning to relieve Haney and tossed two shutout innings. Weaver fanned five of the seven Panthers he faced.
Sophomore third baseman Jared Beechy collected two of the four hits in the contest for the Panthers, who end their season at 18-10. The other two were a double by junior Joey Barry and a single by senior Dylan Stayner.
Westview will meet Fort Wayne Canterbury in the semifinals of the Whiting regional Saturday afternoon around 1:30 p.m. (LaGrange time). The Cavaliers won the Adams Central sectional finale over Woodlan, 1-0.
“We’ll be prepared to play no matter who the opponent,” said Rahn. “I believe we have the tools to make a deep run in the state tournament and winning the sectional is the first step.”
The opening regional semifinal scheduled to start at 11 a.m. will pit the winner of the Whiting sectional (River Forest or Hammond Noll) against the victor of the Delphi sectional (Lafayette Central Catholic or Winamac). The semifinal survivors return at 7 p.m. to play for the regional title and a spot in the 2A semi-state on June 14.