Andrean captures Class 3A State Baseball Championship with 10-1 win over Evansville Memorial

A Special Report By Mark Smith



Team (Record) / Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Evansville Memorial (21-13) 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 7 2
No. 1 ANDREAN (33-2) 10 0 0 0 0 0 - 10 7 2

Saturday, 6-18-2005 - 70 degrees, cloudy at Loeb Stadium – West Lafayette


WP - Steve Augsburger (8-1) 4K, 1 walk, CG

LP - Sam Schen (6-5) 2K, 5 walks, CG

Evansville Memorial (21-13)

Issac Lewis (RF) Double, single

Zach Gibbs (CF) 2 singles

Pat Stone (DH) 2 singles, run scored

Ben Griggs (SS) Walk, RBI


ANDREAN (33-2)

Tommy Finn (SS) HR #1, 2 RBIs

Joe Mack (1B) Double, 3 RBIs

Brad King (2B) Single, RBI

Steve Augsburger (P) 2 singles, 2 RBIs

Anthony Cera (3B) Double, RBI

Robb Barbauld (LF) Double, walk, RBI

LAFAYETTE, IN  (6-18-2005)Sometimes it's a shame life has to go on. Sporting life, at least.

For Andrean, Saturday was one of those moments where life did not go on. A championship game is also referred to as 'the final' and for several Andrean seniors, it was as fitting and conclusive an athletic triumph as it could ever be.

The 59ers, in a game that was over so early they could enjoy the ride, rolled over Evansville Memorial 10-1 to win the school's first state baseball championship on a near-perfect, 70-degree day in Lafayette's tradition-rich Loeb Stadium.

Andrean, ranked No. 1 most of the season, scored 10 runs after two out in the first inning to bury the light-hitting boys from the southern end of the state. When senior Tommy Finn, the 12th batter of the inning, launched a 400-foot two-run homer to left center, it was obvious that the 59ers and 26-year coach Dave Pishkur, would bring home the big trophy to 5959 Broadway in a big way.

“It does matter,” said Pishkur, who had watched his team lose the 2004 3A state title game 3-2 to New Palestine. “We had a retreat before the state tournament,” revealed Pishkur. “Not a religious retreat, but just to talk about life and what we'd hope to accomplish during the state run and why.”

“The boys broke up into groups and we asked them what they thought it would mean if Andrean won the state title. One group said: It would mean everything in the world to my parents. Another one said, it would validate Andrean as a baseball school.”

“We know we're good,” Pishkur continued, standing in the late afternoon sunshine. “We've accomplished everything in the world. But no state championship. Until now. It validates us in Indianapolis. I've never put the red ring on (for state runner-ups). Not once. I will put the blue ring (for state champs) on.”

This was not only a win it was domination. Memorial was not a great team but they were battle-tested. Andrean scored 10 times off a pitcher. Sam Schen (6-5), who had pitched three shutouts in the state tourney for the Chargers (21-13). The 59ers completed a seven game run where they outscored the opposition 62-11 and in four post-season matchups with 20-win teams, Andrean scored 10 or more runs three times.

“We just got started,” said Tommy Finn, who was selected as the Mental Attitude Award winner. “The same think happened earlier in the tournament (against Clark).

Winning pitcher Steve Augsburger said, “I can't be more proud of the way our seniors played today. It was great that we could do it for him (Pishkur). He'd come up short a lot of times. But he doesn't care about all those other times now. This is the only one that matters.”

The key play of the game was when leadoff man Chris Skinner, who reached base on an easy ground ball that Memorial shortstop Ben Griggs fumbled for an error.

With runners at first and second, Schen struck out Andrean's Greg Yersich. But Brad King singled to left on a 1-2 pitch to open the scoring and Augsburger was able to pull a braking ball from Schen for a two-run single to left field.

Rob Barbauld doubled to left center to make it 4-0 before Joaquin Rodriguez walked and the pair executed a double steal. Skinner, batting for the second time in the inning, walked and then, in rapid fire succession, Joe Mack tripled down the right field line scoring three runs and Finn hit the first pitch over the advertising signs on the left center field fence.

“I didn't think it was going out,” said Finn, who was mobbed by reporters and well-wishers afterwards on the Loeb Stadium infield. “I guess I just got a good pitch to hit.”

The 59er football quarterback, who was the MVP of the 13-2 football team that defeated Heritage Hills for the 2004 state football title in November, had been to the Lafayette's neighborhood ballpark before.

“My brother hit one (homer) here,” smiled Finn. “ I remember seeing my brother (Billy) play his last game here. I think I was seven years old and we lost in the semistate. That seems like a long time ago. And now I'm here. We probably had more talented (Andrean) teams in the 90s that couldn't get this far. But we finally did it. Not just for us but for all of them.”

Memorial never got back in the game because of Augsburger (8-1) and the situation. The 59ers weakness was thought to be their starting pitching but that flaw, if it existed, was never exposed. The 59ers, who won an amazing 24 games by five runs or more, had a near-perfect post-season in the respect that they trailed only once (8-7 to Kankakee Valley in an eventual 15-8 victory) and not at all in the final five games. Boys vastly underestimate how hard it is to hit in a single-elimination playoff game once you fall behind. Andrean, which played just six one-run games in 2005, rarely trailed all year.

The Chargers made two base running errors that took runs off the board. In the first inning, Issac Lewis double over the head of Andrean right fielder Joaquin Rodriguez. The next batter, Sean Woolen, hit a flyball to medium deep right field. Lewis failed to tag up and advance to third base. It would have taken a major league throw over the top of the runner to get Lewis at third. Memorial, a team with just four home runs in 33 games, needed to push the issue on the bases and they didn't.

In that same inning, with two out, Zach Gibbs singled to right field. Memorial's veteran coach Quentin Merkel, again did not challenge the arm of Rodriguez in right, holding Lewis at third base. Gibbs, assuming there would be a play at the plate, rounded first and headed for second and Andrean's all-state catcher Greg Yersich threw him out by 15 feet. Why Gibbs didn't simply stop in the baseline and force a rundown, allowing Lewis to score the game's first run, was a mystery.

“That was the biggest play of the game for me,” said Augsburger. “After Greg threw that guy out, I was in good shape.”

Schen, a 5-10 right-hander, shut out Andrean on just one hit over the final five innings and he finished the state tournament with a 3-1 record in playoff games.

But, to be honest, it was hard to tell if the Memorial pitcher became dominant or if the 59ers simply didn't concentrate on rolling up the score. There is no 10-run 'slaughter' rule that ends the game after five innings in the state championship game so there was no incentive to pile it on and end the game after five innings.

The final six innings of the game went very quickly with many of the Memorial fans resigned to their team's fate on the first base side while friends of the 59ers in the third base stands got on the cell phones to deliver the latest score updates back to Lake County. There was no question who was the better team.

There was also no doubt about who the Mental Attitude Award winner would be. Whenever anyone has spoken of Andrean baseball or football in the last two years, they have talked about Tommy Finn's leadership, talent and class under pressure. Finn's toughest task on this final day was to handle the many questions after the contest. And why all this outrageous good fortune has come to him. Thousands of players work hard, excel and show respect for the game, coaches, foes and peers. The third of three very talented baseball and football playing brothers recognized the magnitude of all the good things that have come his way. And like all who have been gifted with greatness at anything, Finn acknowledged that he had at times, wondered, 'Why me?'

“I have thought about that,” Finn said. “I don't know. I really don't. I've always said that Andrean's a great school. The goal is to go to state every year. We were really fortunate to go downstate twice in the same year and 'Why me' is right. There are so many other kids. But that's sports for you. I'll take it.”

ANDREAN (33-2)

Coach Dave Pishkur (806-221) 26 years

4-1-5 (W) 15-5 (5) Thornwood

4-2-5 (W) 7-6 (9) Providence

4-4-5 (W) 7-6 Clark

4-8-5 (W) 9-1 Portage

4-9-5 (W) 5-2 Penn

4-11-5 (W) 6-0 Highland

4-13-5 (W) 13-0 at Bishop Noll (5)

4-15-5 (W) 18-0 at Lowell (5)

4-16-5 (L) 2-9 Chesterton

4-18-5 (W) 3-2 Munster

4-20-5 (W) 10-0 at Griffith (5)

4-25-5 (W) 14-8 Hobart

4-26-5 (W) 6-0 Kankakee Valley

4-27-5 (W) 8-2 at Highland

4-29-5 (W) 7-6 Bishop Noll

4-30-5 (W) 16-3 at Gary Roosevelt (5)

5-2-5 (W) 17-7 Lowell (6)

5-3-5 (W) 13-2 South Central (5)

5-4-5 (W) 13-7 at Munster

5-5-5 (L) 8-9 Griffith (8)

5-7-5 (W) 10-2 at Crown Point

5-9-5 (W) 15-1 at Kankakee Valley

5-11-5 (W) 12-5 at Hobart


LAC Tournament

5-16-5 (W) 14-0 Hammond (5)

5-17-5 (W) 8-4 Morton

5-19-5 (W) 12-1 at Munster

5-21-5 (W) 5-1 Clark (at Munster)

5-24-5 (W) 9-1 Merrillville

5-26-5 (W) 5-4 Clay (8)


Kankakee Valley (3A) Sectional

5-30-5 (W) 15-9 Kankakee Valley (18-14)

6-3-5 (W) 11-0 (3) Gary Roosevelt (forfeit)


Andrean (3A) Regional

6-7-5 (W) 13-0 Clark (22-7)


Plymouth (3A) SemiState

6-11-5 (W) 11-0 West Lafayette (26-6)

6-11-5 (W) 2-1 Norwell (23-11)


State (3A) Championship

6-18-5 (W) 10-1 Evansville Memorial (21-13)

STATE FINALS NOTES: The magnitude of this 59er title might not be obvious. Not only is Andrean the first Northwest Indiana school to win baseball and football state titles in the same school year, they are the second NW Indiana school to win baseball and football state titles period. Bishop Noll, the 1991 state football champ and a two-time (1968, 2004) baseball champ, is the other.

Andrean needs athletics success more than other schools do. At a time when finances are tight and many public schools are rebuilding or renovating their facilities, Noll and Andrean need to maintain their visibility as being quality schools for parents to pay for their young folks to attend. While athletics should not truly be a major part of a private school's mission, a state sports championship is credible evidence of excellence, as well as teaching creating a desired finished product, the ultimate goal of all schools. The value of Tommy Finn winning the Mental Attitude Award, basically a morality, academic and good citizenship honor, is equally valuable to Andrean for that same reason.

Finn credited his brothers example for some of his success.

“Most definitely,” he said. “Not just going one on one but they showed me everything about sports. I can never repay them. It was more me watching them. Learning how to act on the field. You aren't told things like that. You have to grasp. Obviously, I watched them more than other players. I don't know if I've ever told them that.”

Andrean catcher Greg Yersich, as expected, passed on college to sign immediately in pro baseball with the Minnesota Twins organization. If the strong-armed backstop has major league hopes, this is a good move. While pitchers need to develop physically and maximize velocity, catchers need to get used to the pro game, as far as calling pitches against pro hitters with wooden (colleges use metal) bats. Yersich (43-109, .394), who hit eight homers and drove in 47 runs in 35 games in his only year at Andrean, won't be initially judged on his offense in pro ball. Bad catchers don't move up in pro ball just because they can hit.

“We've worked hard for all this,” said Pishkur. “We learned a lot from a lot of coaches and we finally put it all together.”

STATE FINALS NOTES: Andrean also won sectional titles in four of the five baseball, softball, girls and boys basketball and football team sports this past school year.

There's a couple of schools that can make this very subjective argument but Andrean came close to having three state championships in the 2004-2005 school year. The 59er' girls softball team was 32-2 when they gave up two runs and lost the state semifinal 2-1 to eventual 3A champion Gibson Southern on June 11.

No Indiana school has ever won three 'major' team state titles in the same school year. The victory may ignite talk of a private school division of the state playoffs, but one reality is that Class 3A, with Mater Dei, Memorial, South Bend St Joseph's, Mishawaka Marian, Chatard, Brebeuf and Andrean, already is the private school division.

The 59ers baseball title probably outranks even their football crown. In football, Andrean had to rally in miracle fashion to beat Griffith at the sectional level and then didn't have to face top-ranked five-time state champ Bishop Chatard, an upset loser to Heritage Hills, in the finals. In baseball, Andrean crushed six of the seven foes, shutting out two top-10 teams by more than 10 runs and blasted a three-time state champ in the final game.

Brownsburg (34-0) won the 4A state championship after the Andrean game with a 6-4 win over Evansville North (24-7). Brownsburg becomes the first team since 1978 Evansville Memorial (30-0) to become undefeated state baseball champs.
Of the three Evansville area teams, only 2A North Posey (27-8) won, an 11-6 victory over Northwestern (19-13).

The 10 runs for Andrean in the first inning was a state finals' record and it was too much for the Loeb Stadium scoreboard, which only can register nine runs in any inning.  The 10th run was posted as a 'one' in the second inning.

The listed attendance for the Brownsburg-Evansville North game was 4,300 which was curious since the 3,500-seat Loeb Stadium wasn't filled for any of the three games. The 4,300 may have been the total attendance for the day. Parking was a little tight, but overall the Loeb Stadium state finals came off very well. No complaints were heard from anyone and many who had not seen Loeb, were impressed with it's neighborhood feel. There would appear to be a chance that the state finals could return to Loeb sometime in the future.

Copyright © 2005 and Meyer Multimedia Services, a division of Meyer Broadcasting Corp.  All rights reserved.
Revised: June 20, 2005.