Gothrup stars at the plate as Daleville advances to Sectional 55 final

·4 min read

May 31—ANDERSON — Cayden Gothrup's exploits on the pitcher's mound have been well documented. The Ball State-bound Daleville senior reminded everyone Monday he's pretty good at the plate as well.

Gothrup finished 3-for-4 with a homer, a triple and five RBI as the Broncos dominated Southern Wells 15-2 to reach the Sectional 55 championship game at Memorial Field. The only drama after the first two innings concerned whether Gothrup would get a fifth at-bat and a chance to complete the cycle with a double.

He was in the hole when Daleville made its final out in the fifth.

"He's just a great baseball player, and he's a great baseball player 'cause he worked at it," Broncos coach Terry Turner said. "He hit the weight room. He's worked at it since his freshman season. So nothing he does surprises me."

That presumably includes the towering home run Gothrup launched to right-center field in the fourth inning. The two-run shot landed on the far end of the paved road beyond the fence, an estimated 420 feet from home plate.

Turner coached at Memorial Field for more than two decades with Anderson, and he can attest Gothrup's blast was a rare sight.

"We were talking about that (in the dugout)," Turner said. "I said the longest one I ever saw hit was (former Highland and Major League star) Adam Lind. (Anderson's) Peyton Newsom hit some moonshots out here, but that ball that Cayden hit was a moonshot. It went as high as it did far. He smoked that ball."

It proved to be the exclamation point on a victory that set up a rivalry rematch against Cowan in the final at 7 p.m. The Blackhawks, who upset Wes-Del 5-1 in Monday's first semifinal, lost to Daleville 4-3 on April 8 and 9-1 on May 11.

Gothrup — who will start the final — got the win in both matchups, pitching 12 combined innings and allowing three earned runs on five hits with six walks and 23 strikeouts.

Zach Shepler turned in an efficient five-inning start for the Broncos against Southern Wells (5-19). Hit hit a pair of batters in the first inning and gave up an RBI single, then ran into more drama in the second after the Raiders smacked back-to-back singles with two outs. That inning ended when second baseman Ethan Colvin chased down a popup in shallow right field, and the Broncos quickly removed the competitive aspect of the contest in the third.

Daleville (11-13) sent all nine batters to the plate without recording an out in the top of the third, and eight of them scored to open a commanding 13-1 lead.

J.T. Nelson walked to lead off the frame, Zach Neff followed with a single and an error on a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases. Jagger Sparks drew a five-pitch walk to force in a run and chase Southern Wells starter Evan Reynolds from the mound.

Pinch-hitter Sean Jackson greeted reliever Owen Vickrey with a two-run single, and the floodgates were open. Braden Danner followed with a two-run double down the third-base line, and Meryck Adams singled to put runners on the corners again. Gothrup hit a flyball that dropped in left field for an RBI single, and Drew Watson reached on an error.

After the 10th batter finally recorded the first out, Neff capped the scoring with a two-run double to left.

The Broncos scored two runs in the first after Danner doubled and came home on a sacrifice fly by Watson and Adams singled and scurried home on a wild pitch. A three-run second inning started with a lead-off double by Shepler, who later scored on an error, and included a two-run triple by Gothrup that hit the center-field fence on one hop.

Southern Wells' final run came home in the fourth when Brandon Gardner led off with a double and scored on a groundout. Shepler scattered eight hits over five innings and struck out three batters.

"Once he settled in, he was fine," Turner said. "To be honest with you, he's come so far. This whole team has come so far. Halfway through the season, I really had my doubts. I knew when Cayden pitched we had a chance to win. Now, with Cayden pitching, I know we've got a great chance to win.

"We're starting to play good, solid defense. We're hitting up and down the lineup right now. So I feel really good. The kids are focused. They're zeroed in, so that's the important thing."

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