Brebeuf stuns Memorial in Class 3A baseball semistate with seventh-inning comeback

EVANSVILLE — How you view this game will depend on where you sat at Charles H. Braun Stadium.

The third base side? Overwhelmed with emotion. First base? Stunned silence. What occurred in the seventh inning of the Class 3A semistate on Saturday night will be remembered for what is a hard truth in baseball.

The game is never over until the final strike.

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Brebeuf scored five runs with two outs in the seventh inning to shock Memorial 6-5 in the semistate. The Tigers were one out, even one strike from a trip to Victory Field. But in the span of 10 minutes, the Braves took the chance away with a string of hard hits.

What do you say to a team who was that close?

"I really don't know what to say," said Memorial coach Rip Collins. "You tell them you love them. I hate the fact this team isn't going to have another week together."

It happened quickly. Down 5-1 with two outs, Brebeuf got six consecutive hits with Will Loftus tying the game on a two-run triple. Dylan Wells put the Braves ahead with a single. Brebeuf connected on the first pitch three times in the sequence. It was down to its final strike at one point.

The Braves (25-9) earned a spot in the state championship for the second time in three years.

"It's a testament to our kids to not try and do too much," said Brebeuf coach Wes Neese. "It's hard in that situation to not try and hit a five-run homer. Our kids passed the baton to the next guy and were willing to have unselfish at-bats."

Memorial (20-10) did everything right to put itself in a position to win. Alex Broshears tied it with a two-out double in the fourth. Simon Schulz and Thomas Lynch hit back-to-back doubles to put the Tigers up three. There was an insurance run in the sixth.

They just could not find one more out. There was one more opportunity in the seventh with two on base. Broshears, who went 3 for 4, sent a potential single to the right side of the infield, but the ball hit a Memorial runner for the final out.

The loss is a difficult reminder that baseball is different. It requires 21 outs at the high school level. No clock. No coasting to the finish.

"We battled," said Collins. "We found a way to put a few hits together and move some base runners. Put ourselves in a good spot. We just came up a little short."

Memorial's Clark Gries (13) hits as the Memorial Tigers play the Silver Creek Dragons in the 2024 IHSAA Baseball semistate at Braun Stadium in Evansville, Ind., Saturday, June 8, 2024.
Memorial's Clark Gries (13) hits as the Memorial Tigers play the Silver Creek Dragons in the 2024 IHSAA Baseball semistate at Braun Stadium in Evansville, Ind., Saturday, June 8, 2024.

Loftus had two extra-base hits and three RBIs for Brebeuf. Anthony Suscha was 2 for 4 including a key two-run single in the final inning. But perhaps no one came up bigger in the seventh than senior Christian Forniss.

The Northwestern recruit went six innings on 98 pitches in the semifinal win over Crawfordsville. The Braves sent him back to the mound against Memorial, knowing his time was limited because of the pitch count. Forniss did enough to send Brebeuf to the state championship.

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"He came to me and said, 'I want to finish the second game,'" said Neese. "The guts on a kid to be able to do that is unbelievable. He is the heart and soul of the team. He's done an unbelievable job leading us on the mound all the way through this."

The semifinal was arguably the best performance from Memorial this season. The Tigers run-ruled Silver Creek 10-0 in five innings with the offense registering 14 hits. Matthew Fisher went the distance on 81 pitches and struck out seven.

Memorial pitching coach Chris Schaefer meets at the mound as the Memorial Tigers play the Silver Creek Dragons in the 2024 IHSAA Baseball semistate at Braun Stadium in Evansville, Ind., Saturday, June 8, 2024.
Memorial pitching coach Chris Schaefer meets at the mound as the Memorial Tigers play the Silver Creek Dragons in the 2024 IHSAA Baseball semistate at Braun Stadium in Evansville, Ind., Saturday, June 8, 2024.

The path here wasn't straightforward. Memorial struggled in April and lost its number one pitcher for a month to an injury. It still came together at the right time to knock on the door of its first state championship appearance since 2005.

The Tigers graduate 10 seniors including five starters.

"We came up short," said Collins. "I hate it for our seniors. I hate it for our team. I hate it for our fan base. I hate it for Memorial High School. These players have nothing to be ashamed of. They should keep their head high."

Class 2A at Plainfield: No. 1 North Posey struggled at the plate in a 3-0 loss to Greencastle. The Vikings only registered three hits against freshman Bryton Gregg. North Posey finished with a 24-6 record.

Class 1A at Jasper: No. 2 Barr-Reeve advanced back to the state championship with victories against No. 3 Shakamak (1-0) and Indianapolis Lutheran (9-2). Seth Wagler pitched a five-hit shutout with six strikeouts in the semifinal and went 2 for 3 with a triple, double and three RBIs in the championship.

The Vikings (27-6) get a rematch with No. 1 Lafayette Central Catholic.

This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Brebeuf Jesuit defeats Memorial in Class 3A baseball semistate

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