Barr-Reeve “finished the job”, wins first baseball crown

by | Jun 15, 2024 | Baseball, Headlines, RRSN News | 0 comments

Rich Torres, Special to IHSAA.org

INDIANAPOLIS – Third time was the charm for the top-ranked Barr-Reeve Vikings on Friday night at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis.

Making their third IHSAA baseball state finals appearance in program history – and second straight – the Vikings (28-6) avenged last year’s heartbreaking 1-0 championship loss and “finished the job” by halting No. 3 Lafayette Central Catholic’s bid at a second Class 1A three-peat.

Barr-Reeve junior ace Seth Wagler (8-1) pitched a complete-game and scattered six hits with five strikeouts, while the Vikings’ offense capitalized on five uncharacteristic Knights’ errors to win 6-1 and capture the program’s first-ever baseball state title.

“After last year, we were very motivated. We talked about it all year long. As soon as we lost last year, we were like, ‘We have the guys coming back, and we’re going to be just as good as we ever were, and we’re going to get back, and we did it,” Wagler said.

A Class 1A state finalist in 1998 and 2023, the Vikings fell short both times, but last year’s setback was extremely difficult to digest.

Wagler pitched a complete game, four-hitter in the 2023 state title game with 10 strikeouts, but the right-hander’s only earned run crossed home plate via a top-of-the-third balk with runners on the corners to give Lafayette Central Catholic the one run it needed to collect it’s state-leading ninth championship.

“It was very heartbreaking. I just felt like we had a great year, and obviously, that didn’t define our year when we lost 1-0 in the state championship, but to lose that way was just heartbreaking, and we knew we had it in us to come back,” Wagler said. “We just put that on our shoulders, and we worked with it.”

Wagler put the Vikings on his back in the rematch, retiring the first five and final eight batters he faced.

The Knights (27-7) plated their lone run in the bottom of the fourth, as sophomore Alex Schummer (1-for-3) laced a one-out, RBI single to left-center field after Lafayette Central Catholic put two runners on base to open the frame.

Senior Brinn Robbins (1-for-3) recorded LCC’s only extra-base hit, a triple to right field in the bottom of the second. Senior Gavin Boutelle went 2-for-4 for the Knights, who had won 20 straight state tournament games.

LCC’s six hits and two walks drawn provided potential scoring opportunities in the bottom of the second, third, fourth and fifth innings.

The Knights broke through once, but two highlight plays by senior shortstop Ethan Stoll in the third, including a backhand diving catch in left field for the third out, kept the Knights off the board.

Wagler stranded seven Knights’ runners overall and six in scoring position.

“He’s such a competitor. He attacks the strike zone, and he pitches to contact. He’s not a big power arm, and he trusts his defense, but more than anything, it’s the intangibles. The steadiness that Seth brings, his composure, his mound presence, and I think all of our guys feed off of his confidence when he’s out there,” Barr-Reeve head coach Trevor McConnell said.

“When he’s out there, everyone feels we have a chance to win the game. He’s just that guy that we’re fortunate to have and that your whole team feeds off of, especially if he does what he’s capable of doing, and he usually does.”

The Vikings built a 3-0 lead after two innings, beginning with a two-out rally in the top of the first sparked by the Knights’ first error.

An RBI double by junior Jacob Pauw (2-for-4) drove in the first run. A one-out RBI triple by senior Braydon Knepp (1-for-4) in the top of the second increased the lead to 2-0 before Stoll laid down an RBI-sacrifice bunt to make it 3-0.

Barr-Reeve’s two-run top of the fifth was fueled by a pair of Knights’ errors, which gifted Stoll two bases to lead off. Stoll later scored from third base on a throwing error during the next at-bat, as Ethan Graber was struck by a throw to first base after laying down a bunt.

Wagler helped his own cause in the next at-bat, driving in Graber with a single to left field to up the score 5-1.

“I think deep down we wanted it to be them in the finals after what happened last year, and that’s nothing against them,” McConnell said. “I think our kids collectively wanted another shot at that team. I had some people say, ‘It’s a bummer they didn’t get moved up to 2A,’ and you’re trying to be humble, but quietly, well, that’s the shot our kids want.”

A two-out RBI single by senior Tyler Graber (3-for-4) in the top of the seventh finalized the margin. Graber finished with a ground-rule double and a pair of singles.

“I’m glad we could come back and finish what we couldn’t finish last year,” Graber said. “That’s one way to lose a game, with a balk, and I’m sure (Seth) was wearing that for who knows how long? I’m just glad we got it done for him. It’s special. First time our baseball program has finished the job. It’s special.”

Lafayette Central Catholic was competing in its 12th state championship game since 2004 and are now 9-3 in those contests. Their tournament winning streak marks the third-longest in the event’s 57-year history behind their own state record of 38 from 2009-14 and Jasper’s run of 28 from 1996-99.

The Knights’ ninth state title clinched in 2023 extended the program’s and head coach Tim Bordenet’s all-time, state-record lead. LCC four-peated from 2009-12, but the Vikings ended their recent attempt at duplicating the feat.

“It was cool that it worked out the way it did,” McConnell said. “It’s a pretty neat story of having the heartache and the adversity and then working all year to come back and to get this moment and for it to turn our way this year was awesome. I’m so happy for our kids. They deserve it.”

Class 1A State Championship Records

Most Combined Triples (tied): 2 by Barr-Reeve (1) and Lafayette Central Catholic (1).

Barr-Reeve’s Ethan Graber earns Gardner Mental Attitude Award

At the conclusion of the game, Ethan Graber of Barr-Reeve High School was announced as the recipient of the Phil Gardner Mental Attitude Award for Class 1A Baseball.

The award is annually presented to a senior participant in the state finals who best demonstrates mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability and is nominated by their principal and coach.

Academically, Graber graduated with a 4.15 GPA, an Academic Honors Diploma, and a Technical Honors Diploma. He has secured certifications as a Clinical Medical Assistant and Dementia Care and he looks to go into the health care field. He is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, First Mennonite Youth Group, and ventured to Mexico on a mission trip to help build homes in 2022.

Ethan was named 2023 All-State Honorable Mention as well the 2023 All-Blue Chip Conference. And in addition to baseball, he also played basketball for the Vikings.

Ethan is the son of Brent and Cheryl Graber of Cannelburg, IN and will attend Vincennes University to study Nursing beginning in the fall.

The award is named in honor of retired IHSAA Assistant Commissioner Phil Gardner who served 27 years with the IHSAA. He spent 18 years as a member of its Board of Directors and nine more years as assistant commissioner administering the baseball state tournament during that time.

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, IHSAA corporate partner, presented a $1,000 scholarship to Barr-Reeve High School in the name of Ethan Graber.

Related Content

Jul 11 2024

Marian’s Tipping Named the Crossroads League Male Athlete of the Year

Marian’s Tipping Named the CL Male Athlete of the Year   JACKSON, Mich. – The Crossroads League announced on Thursday that Isaiah Tipping of the Marian University men’s...
Jul 11 2024

Indiana Wesleyan’s Joldersma Named Crossroads League Female Athlete-of-the-Year

Indiana Wesleyan’s Joldersma Named CL Female Athlete-of-the-Year JACKSON, Mich. – The Crossroads League announced on Thursday that Eva Joldersma of the Indiana Wesleyan...
Jul 10 2024

Craig Honored as TU’s Male Athlete of the Year

Craig Honored as TU’s Male Athlete of the Year   UPLAND, Ind. – Aidan Craig was recognized on Wednesday for his record-setting season with the Taylor men’s lacrosse...
Jul 10 2024

Marian’s Downing Repeats as CL Athletic Director of the Year

Marian’s Downing Repeats as CL Athletic Director of the Year   JACKSON, Mich. – The Crossroads League announced on Wednesday that Marian’s Steve Downing has been named...
Jul 10 2024

Grace’s Josh Neuhart Voted Crossroads League SID of the Year

Neuhart Voted Crossroads League SID of the Year JACKSON, Mich. – The Crossroads League announced on Wednesday that Josh Neuhart of Grace College had been named its...