Through the first 28 games of the season, no single player or team could stop the Cathedral Fighting Irish from playing winning baseball. On Saturday night in the Class 4A State championship game, not only did they meet a team that over-matched them, but one player that turned out to be their kryptonite.
Elkhart Central Senior Tanner Tully had a State championship game for the ages, striking out 13 batters in a complete game, and also hitting the decisive home run to give the Blazers their first baseball championship.
“It means everything to the team and the program,” said Tully. “It’s our first State championship in team history, and we are very proud to make a run like this and end up on top.”
With a curveball that kept Cathedral players off-balanced all game long, Tully allowed just five hits on the game, walking none but hitting none, and was able to close out the Fighting Irish anytime they proposed trouble on the diamond. Even with runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth inning, Tully was able to escape the jam unscathed and push his team to victory despite the Blazers being outhit.
“It wasn’t much difference between the two teams,” said Cathedral Senior Luke Cureton. “It was just execution. The game would be a lot different if things were executed the way they were supposed to be, but they came out ready to go. We have to tip our hat off to them.”
Tully was able to get the best of Cathedral at the plate as well, as he stepped into the box as the lead-off batter for Elkhart Central in the first and blasted a solo-home run deep to right field. It would be the only mark on Cathedral Sophomore Ashe Russell’s game, who struck out five, allowed three hits, and only threw 67 pitches in the entire game.
Even with the loss, an emotional Cathedral Head Coach Rich Andriole was very proud of his players and what they were able to accomplish during a great season in the program’s sixth trip to the championship game.
“It’s hard to look at this as a failure, a negative, or something like that,” said Andriole. “It has been such a phenomenal year, and they exemplified everything that Cathedral baseball is all about.”