In 2016, the Trinity Lutheran baseball team has checked off nearly every goal on its list.
On Memorial Day, the Cougars marked another achievement — winning the program’s fourth sectional championship.
Story continues below gallery
The Cougars won their first postseason title since 2013 with a 6-3 victory against West Washington on the Senators’ home turf.
“These young men have worked so hard. They were deserving of this,” Cougars coach Bob Tabeling said. “This was our goal since the end of last season. These guys have worked hard in every phase of the game. I’m glad to see it for them.”
For seniors Bobby Tabeling and Jacob Schult, they started their freshman year with a sectional trophy and now will finish with one.
“I didn’t want to go out my senior year without one,” Bobby Tabeling said. “I didn’t want to stop playing sports yet. There was no other option than to go out and win this game. It started slow, but then the game picked up. Our pitching has been supreme all year, and we had no doubt they would pull through it.”
Schult had the only hit in the first inning for either team, with a single to the right-field gap.
Chandler Reynolds was hit by a pitch, and singles by Nick Mensendiek and Jacob VonDielingen put the Cougars on base in the second inning. But an out at third base and a pop-out ended the momentum.
Jake Moore got on base with a single, and Ross Kruse bunted to get to first base in the top of the third.
With the next at-bat, Schult blasted a two-run double to the left-field fence for the Cougars’ first runs of the evening.
Bailey Baker scored for Schult off a Senators error from the mound to second base to put Trinity up 3-0.
West Washington pitcher Hunter Holliday attempted to throw to second but hit Mensendiek with the throw on a steal.
With two outs tallied in the fourth, Sam Crick smashed a double to left-center field to score Kruse. Trinity loaded the bases, but Holliday closed the door in the top of the inning with a strikeout.
Through the first three innings, Schult took down nine straight batters.
His streak on the mound ended in the bottom of the fourth. A pitch hit the leadoff hitter, and Tanner Packwood followed with a single.
Jacob Farris scored for the Senators with the bases loaded after a throwing error on a fielder’s choice to home plate.
A pickoff at first base and a diving catch by Tabeling in center field ended the Senators’ scoring threat.
“It was one of those crucial plays,” coach Tabeling said. “We try to move our outfield in. We try to take those kind of hits away from them. Jake Moore had a catch like that to also end the game. If he played deeper, he might not have made the play. The outfield had crucial plays throughout the game.”
VonDielingen hit an RBI single to score Tabeling from second, and Kruse added an RBI double to put Trinity up 6-1 midway through the fifth inning.
Kruse substituted Schult on the mound in the fifth inning.
Two errors resulted in a score by the Senators’ Nick Marrs, and an RBI single by Seth Miller cut the deficit to 6-3 in the bottom of the fifth.
Moore took the mound in place of Kruse in the bottom of the sixth after the Cougars went down in order.
Neither team scored the rest of the way, as Crick earned the save in the seventh inning for the Cougars.
Schult got the win on the mound with five strikeouts, one hit and a walk in four innings.
Trinity outhit the Senators 9-4 in the contest.
“The biggest thing is that (the pitchers) didn’t let the fans get to us today,” Schult said. “We had to go out there and battle. We never gave up and got down on ourselves.”
The Cougars (19-8) will play Lanesville, which won a sectional title over Borden on Monday, at Loogootee in the regional semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday.
At the Barr-Reeve tournament earlier this season, the Cougars defeated Lanesville 4-1.
“We need to make less mental mistakes,” Schult said. “We need to stay in the game from beginning to the end. We can’t take any innings off because that’s when you get in trouble — give up extra bases.”
A regional champion will be named that night, with the first pitch thrown at 8 p.m.
“They have a No. 1 guy we haven’t faced yet, but we know of him,” coach Tabeling said of Lanesville. “They’re a team that can swing the bat and put the ball in play. It will be a fun repeat contest.”