Joey Wilmoth lifts Fishers to sectional semis win; Zionsville hangs on to beat Westfield

·6 min read

Fishers coach Matthew Cherry said he planned to use senior reliever Joey Wilmoth at some point during Saturday's IHSAA Class 4A baseball semifinal game against Carmel.

The Tigers didn't plan on turning to the hard-throwing righty in the first inning while trailing by three runs, but if there's one person capable of getting the reigning 4A runners-up out of an early sticky situation — it's Wilmoth.

The Illinois State commit is a bundle of energy. He's constantly hyping up his teammates from the dugout, and he carries the same exuberance to the mound. Wilmoth's not afraid to pose or pump his fists after a big strikeout. His teammates feed off his energy and against Carmel, Wilmoth emptied the tank, throwing 111 pitches over seven scoreless innings helping Fishers earn a 5-3 win.

Fishers advances to face Zionsville in Monday's sectional final.

"Joey Wilmoth is the guy we go to whenever we need energy," senior outfielder Dom Oliverio said. "This dude is the heart and soul of this team, and I think if you asked anyone, we would all say the same thing.

"Joey just carries all of us on his back with his mentality, with his energy, with everything."

Wilmoth entered last season as a starter, but a slow start forced a move to the bullpen. Wilmoth remained a reliever this season to great success. He leads Fishers with six wins, 65 strikeouts and a 1.97 ERA over 32 innings.

Carmel's first four batter reached base with Hunter Snow starting the scoring with an RBI double and Cody Kantz adding an RBI single. Wilmoth walked the first batter he faced and allowed an inherited runner to score on Griffin Wolf's ground out, but he retired the next two batters he faced, limiting the damage in what could've been a disastrous inning.

Cherry said Wilmoth's attitude allows him to thrive in pressure situations. After escaping the first inning, Wilmoth allowed just one hit over his final six innings. Walks were an issue at times, but he used his fastball to generate swinging strikes and located his breaking ball well for strikeouts. Wilmoth finished with a season-high 13 strikeouts.

"I told myself going into the offseason I want to make the most of my senior year and I want to go out and fight," Wilmoth said. "I worked hard every day and completely changed my mindset, really just became the guy that wanted to go in whenever he got the chance instead of winning that certain role.

"My teammates believe in me, the coaches believe me, even after last year... Just giving me the chance to go and prove myself that's built my confidence so much. Now it's like I go out and every game I feel like I'm doing the same thing over and over again, which was not a feeling I've had until this year."

Carmel jumped ahead early, but Fishers wasted no time answering. Curtis Kearschner started the second-inning rally with a one-out double. After a J.P. Preston infield single, Gavin Clayton's ground out put the Tigers on the board. Joey Brenczewski added an RBI single and Carson Dunn's hard-hit ball forced an error, plating Huey Dunn and tying the score at 3-3.

The score remained tied until Oliverio jumped on a breaking ball and hit the go-ahead home run to left center field in the fifth. Preston added an RBI single in the seventh.

Every time Carmel threated to score, Fishers made winning plays to keep the Greyhounds off the scoreboard. In the third inning with a runner on third, Wilmoth and catcher Caulin Brown thwarted an attempted squeeze play. Wimoth's high fastball forced a missed bunt, allowing Brown to chase down the runner trying to score from the third. In the seventh, Snow drove a ball into right center, made a hard turn around second and tried to stretch the play into a triple. Kearschner made a strong throw to cutoff man Huey Dunn and the second baseman made a perfect throw to third, nabbing Snow at third for the out.

Time spent in practice going over situational baseball and focusing on executing under pressure helped the Tigers pull out the win.

"We practice all that stuff," Cherry said. "With baseball we're playing all the time, so we practice it and we talk a lot about like, 'Hey, we may not, we may not do this again for three weeks but if it happens in the game, we got to be able to do it."

Caleb Everson saves Zionsville in sectional semifinal

Zionsville starter Aidan Fitzsimmons regained his control after a shaky first inning and held Westfield scoreless through four innings of Saturday's semifinal.

Fitzsimmons retired 10 of 11 batters after Westfield loaded the bases in the first, but with the Shamrocks mounting another threat, Zionsville coach Jered Moore knew he had to go to a reliever.

Caleb Everson entered with the tying run in scoring position and needed just one pitch to end the threat. Everson remained lights out over the next two innings, helping Zionsville earn a 3-2 win over Westfield.

"I just wasn't trying to do too much. Just let my defense work for me," Everson said. "Our dugout energy the whole entire game was fantastic. They really step it up in the later innings and feeling that energy behind me just makes me that much more confident."

Zionsville scored all three of its runs in the second inning. Nash Wagner hit a solo homer to center field. Wrigley Bumgardner added a RBI single, an error allowed Jackson Hughes to score as well.

Westfield scored both its runs in the fifth off Fitzsimmons. Trey Dorton drove in one with a single up the middle. Maximus Webster walked, and Collin Linsdey brought in Dorton with a single. Everson entered after Lindsey's single and ended the rally.

"That's the kind of pitching performance we've been getting out of Aidan all year," Moore said. "It got a little rough in the first inning, he walked a few, but overall he's commanded the zone throughout course of the season.

"Everson hasn't got a lot of innings just with how deep our staff. Before the season, we knew he was one of our best and he went out, closed the door and threw well."

Follow IndyStar sports reporter Akeem Glaspie on Twitter at @THEAkeemGlaspie.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: IHSAA Baseball playoffs: Wilmoth lifts Fishers, Zionsville wins, too