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Peru, Bunker Hill send teams to baseball state tournament

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BALANCE: Despite nearly falling over on wet grass, Bunker Hill’s Kaleb Shelton manages to keep a throw to first on target during the Braves’ district tournament game against Marion Friday. The hosts won the game 14-4 and will play in this week’s Northern Indiana Cal Ripken State Tournament as hosts of the 12u tournament.
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CRAFTY: Bunker Hill’s Zack Wright helped keep Marion in check on the mound while applying the winning hit Friday night as the hosts won 14-4 in the Bunker Hill district tournament. The Braves will face Crown Point Blue Tuesday night at 8 p.m. in the Northern Indiana Cal Ripken 12u State Tournament.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

Three local baseball teams will be in action this week as part of the Northern Indiana Cal Ripken Baseball state tournament series.

Bunker Hill’s 11u and 12u teams, along with Peru’s 11u team, will play in their respective state title tournaments with the winners after this week’s play advancing to the Ohio Valley Regional Tournament level.

Peru won last week’s 11u district tournament at Kokomo Southside with a 4-0 record to cement their status in the state tournament beyond earning a spot as tournament hosts.

Bunker Hill’s 11u team benefited as a result, taking the third district spot in the process and will play at Peru this week.

Bunker Hill also earned a nod in this week’s state tournament as a host after finishing fourth in the Bunker Hill district tournament with a 2-2 record.

The Tiger 11u team started off with a bang, defeating Russiaville 10-3, scoring all 10 runs in the third and fourth innings to turn around a 2-0 deficit, before breezing past Kokomo UCT 14-1 in five innings.

Peru got into a slugfest in the upper bracket final with Kokomo Southside but ultimately prevailed 13-10.

The Tigers got three runs in the second but gave back four in the top of the third before the teams traded off five runs each in the bottom of the third and top of the fourth and a run apiece in the bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth, Peru scored four more runs to take the lead for good and held Southside to a walk in the top of the sixth to seal the victory.

Surprisingly, Russiaville found their way to the final after the opening loss to Peru though the Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 lead after an inning of play.

Russiaville scored three runs in the third to tie the game and a stalemate ensued until the bottom of the sixth, where Lucas Musser doubled, reaching third on an error, and Jackson Boswell singled to plate the winning run for the district title win.

Bunker Hill also started their district tournament with a win, defeating Kokomo Southside 12-8, scoring in five of six innings to negate a grand slam that temporarily reduced a 6-1 lead to 6-5.

“We got some momentum behind us early when the kids made plays on a couple of balls hit right at us,” Braves coach Eric Isenburg said. “We hit the ball well throughout the lineup.

“One of the things we worked on was getting the kids to work on looking for their pitch to hit, which they did a good job of.”

The Braves gave up another big inning in the following game to Kokomo UCT, a six-run fourth, but didn’t have the offense to respond, falling to the lower bracket in a 7-2 loss.

“We had a rough third inning defensively,” Isenburg said about the second round loss. “We had the bases loaded a couple of times but didn’t get the hit we wanted.

“We told the kids baseball is a funny sometimes; we got the hits we needed in the first game but (against UCT) those hits found gloves instead.”

The offense came back to life in the following game as Bunker Hill scored nine runs in the fourth to end its game with Marion early after a 14-4 win.

Four runs in the first inning gave the Braves a platform to build on but the Giants kept things close, scoring twice in the second and third inning to trim the hosts’ advantage down to 5-4.

As rain peppered the field, Bunker Hill peppered the field with hits, getting seven in the fourth as Marion went through three pitchers but could not slow the hosts down as Zach Wright applied the finish blow with a single that scored Jackson Garber and Bennett Isenburg for the win.

“Against UCT, we were chasing to many pitches up and down,” Isenburg said about the difference between the Friday night games. “Against Marion, we found our discipline and put good swings on the ball again.”

The up-and-down nature of the game caught up to the Braves as Southside returned the first-night favor with a 4-0 win that ended Bunker Hill’s district tournament.

Southside fended off runners in scoring position in five of six innings to shut the Braves down and used the lower bracket run to win the district title after defeating UCT to reach the final and Northwestern in the final twice.

“Southside played a good game against in the second meeting,” Isenburg noted. “We played them 12-12 over the course of two games and split, so we’re pretty well-matched.

“It was a good game between two good teams.”

State Tournament play begins Tuesday at both Peru and Bunker with the Braves’ 11u team playing Mishawaka at 6 p.m. at Peru and the 12u team facing Crown Point Blue at Bunker Hill at 8 p.m.

Peru will jump into play Wednesday against the winner of Kokomo Southside and Auburn at 6 p.m.

Play at both sites will begin at 6 p.m. through Friday, 12 p.m. on Saturday and the final Sunday beginning at 1 p.m.