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Knightstown Loses in Sectional Final 9-1
June 4, 2008 - Centerville junior Derek Mounsey delivered a one-two knockout punch to the Knightstown Panther hopes of a sectional title Friday.
Mounsey baffled Knightstown batters by pitching a four-hitter and getting out of a bases-loaded jam, and belted a two-run home run early in the game that provided the eventual winning run in a 9-1 win over the Panthers.
The loss ended Knightstown’s season and sent the team home without a sectional title for the 27th consecutive year. The Panthers had made a run to the championship game of the tournament by avenging two earlier season losses to Cambridge City Lincoln and Hagerstown.
But the Panthers were never really in this game, despite having senior pitching ace Joe Haase on the mound. Haase didn’t look like himself Friday after striking out 16 batters four days earlier against Lincoln. His fastball didn’t have the normal zip on it, and due to very windy conditions he wasn’t getting his curve or slider across the plate.
The Bulldogs (18-10) struck early in the game and took advantage of an uncharacteristic number of Knightstown mistakes to blow the game open in the first three innings. Ryan Carman hit a one-out double to deep straightaway centerfield in the opening frame.
Centerville’s Mounsey then blasted a two-run homer to right field that gave the Bulldogs all the runs they would need.
Designated hitter Ben Wagenknecht was hit by a pitch, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. He then scored on another wild pitch from Haase that was well outside. Knightstown could never overcome the immediate 3-0 hole.
The Panthers did strike back in the bottom of the first inning. Haase reached for a low and outside curve and somehow got enough of the bat on the ball to hit a lofting home run over the left field fence. It was an impressive shot considering the pitch was well outside the strike zone.
Bearhope followed that homer by beating out an infield single, but was left stranded and the Panthers trailed 3-1.
Haase cruised in the second inning, fanning two hitters and looking more like his old self. But in the third frame, disaster struck and nothing went right for Knightstown. Centerville ended up scoring four runs on just two hits. Haase hit two batters, walked one and Knightstown committed two errors in the inning. Of the four runs scored in the third inning, just one Bulldog batter reached via a base hit. Two costly errors resulted in all four runs being unearned, and suddenly Centerville had a 7-1 cushion.
The Panthers looked like they were going make something happen in the bottom of the third inning. Mounsey had retired five straight batters before Levi Blair reached base on an error to get things started. Brice Biehl sacrificed Blair to second base and Mounsey opted to walk both Haase and Bearhope to load the bases. Mounsey then got Chad Oakes on a questionable called third strike to end the inning with the bases loaded.
Centerville added two more runs in the fourth inning to take the 9-1 lead and all but secure the win.
Knightstown sophomore Zach Burchett was very effective in working the last three innings. Burchett did not allow a hit, walked one and struck out four. But the numerous walks, wild pitches and errors did the Panthers in during the early stages of the game.
The Bulldogs out-scored the Panthers by eight runs, but out-hit them just 7-4. Knightstown wasted a double by Blair in the fifth and a single by Kayajan in the sixth inning.
Mounsey pitched well in allowing just four hits. He wasn’t overpowering with his fastball, but consistently caught the Panthers guessing wrong by throwing curves with a 2-0 count and finishing off players with fastballs when ahead in the count.
The Bulldogs advanced to the Mooresville Regional where they will play ninth-ranked Elwood, an upset winner of Sectional 41, in which Wapahani was the favorite.
The game marked the last in the careers of five seniors, including Haase, Bearhope, Oakes, Rayburn Steinwachs and Trey McColley. Haase will play for Purdue University next season and is expected to again be named to the Associated Press First Team All-State this season.
Bearhope will also play college baseball, although he has not signed yet.
Knightstown finished its season at a disappointing 14-9 after starting the year with a preseason ranking of number three in Class 2A.
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