Shakamak seeks 13th Regional crown

Thursday, May 31, 2018
Lane Gilbert anchors the Shakamak pitching staff and is a standout at shortstop when not on the mound.
By Terry Schwinghammer

The Shakamak Lakers are hoping 13 is their lucky number this weekend.

After running roughshod through Class A Sectional 57 en route to the 24th baseball sectional championship in school history Shakamak now embarks on a quest for the storied program’s 13th regional title.

The Lakers (19-9) will duel the Hauser Jets (20-8) at high noon Saturday in the Morristown Regional.

Shakamak breezed through Sectional 57, defeating Clay City 9-0, North Central 13-2 and Bloomfield 12-0 in the final.

Hauser arrives at Morristown by virtue of sectional wins over Oldenburg Academy (10-0), North Decatur (7-2) and Sectional 60 host Jac-Cen-Del, 11-5.

Hauser has four sectional and four regional titles to its name. All came in a four-year stretch.

The Jets won four straight sectional championships from 2004-07, following up each one by winning the regional.

Shakamak’s most recent regional crown came in 2015. The then-defending 1A state champions made a return trip to Victory Field that year, losing to Rockville 4-2 in the State Finals.

The Lakers will face a formidable foe in the Hauser Jets.

Hauser was ranked second in Class A in the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association’s final regular-season poll. Shakamak was voted 10th in the same poll.

The Jets did not lose to a 1A opponent all season. Hauser split a season-opening doubleheader with 2A state-ranked Henryville. The Jets lost 5-4 in extra innings to 3A Greensburg and lost a doubleheader to 3A Lawrenceburg.

Its other losses came against 4A Shelbyville, 3A No. 10 Indian Creek, 3A Batesville and 2A Austin.

Shakamak has played the tougher schedule of the two. The Lakers started the season 0-3 facing a Murderer’s Row of Jasper, Northview and Bloomington North right off the bat.

The Lakers lost to 3A No. 9 Sullivan and 2A No. 8 Linton by identical 2-1 scores.

A second loss to the BHS North Cougars preceded a 13-1 setback at the hands of 3A sixth-ranked Evansville Memorial in the Washington Invitational. Shakamak ended the regular season with a 7-0 loss at 3A No. 7 West Vigo.

But the Lakers added a couple notches to their belts this season. Shakamak defeated both Terre Haute North and South.

The Lakers edged the South Braves 2-1 in early April. On May 1 they bombed the North Patriots 17-1.

Shakamak’s top two pitchers Lane Gilbert and Trevor Miller figure to be well-rested for Saturday. Neither had to labor much in Monday’s sectional wins over North Central and Bloomfield.

Gilbert pitched an inning of relief against the Thunderbirds and only needed to go two innings in his start against the Cardinals.

Sophomore Trevor Miller gives the Lakers a big bat in the heart of the order and has been a dependable starting pitcher.
By Terry Schwinghammer

The Laker staff will face a potent Hauser lineup Saturday.

Sophomore Trey Johnson leads the way with a .471 batting average, 53 runs batted in and a .533 on-base percentage. The 6-5 sophomore has 10 doubles, five triples and two homers. Junior Sean Miller’s .432 average includes 17 two-baggers. Juniors Aaron Mee and Jacob Luken boast OBPs of .525 and .521 respectively. Mee is batting .393 while Luken posted a .371 average.

Hauser is not noted for home-run power. Junior Kameron Lawson leads the Jets with three dingers. However, Lawson is hitting just .250.

But given the spacious dimensions of the Morristown ballpark – 340 feet down the foul lines – there won’t be many balls leaving the yard for any team playing there.

Pitching appears to be a strength for Hauser. Sam Meek, a 6-5 senior has been the Jets’ top hurler.

Meek has posted a 5-1 record and a stellar 1.34 earned run average in nine starts. The right-hander has fanned 85 while giving up 20 walks. Opponents are batting just .160 against Meek.

Johnson (5-2, 3.53 ERA in eight starts) and Mee (4-1, 3.06, 7) give the Jets a trio of dependable starters.

Johnson, a lefty has rung up 53 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings. Mee has recorded 40 whiffs in 32 innings.

Shakamak skipper Todd Gambill is well aware of the challenges Hauser presents. But the dugout boss believes the Lakers can play with the Jets.

“Hauser is a good team, no doubt about it,” Gambill said in a postgame interview after the sectional championship game.

“But I’m confident. I think we have an opportunity to go deep in the tournament.”

It won’t be easy for whoever emerges victorious from Saturday’s Shakamak-Hauser showdown.

Indianapolis Lutheran and University High School from Carmel meet in Saturday’s first game at 10 a.m.

The University Trailblazers have to be considered the favorite in the early matchup having already swept the Lutheran Saints 19-2 and 10-1 in a doubleheader May 12.

University is 25-6. The Trailblazers also have not lost to another 1A opponent.

The championship game is set for 7 p.m.

The winner will advance to a one-game semistate Saturday, June 9 at either Plainfield or Jasper against the champion of the Loogootee Regional.

Barr-Reeve, Borden, Orleans and Tecumseh make up the regional field at Loogootee.

Devin Stienstra has been a solid sophomore performer at the plate and in the infield for the Lakers.
By Terry Schwinghammer
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