Potent Kingsmen take down Jimtown

MISHAWAKA — Penn proved potent top to bottom, particularly near the bottom, which kept Jimtown, despite a scrappy rally to get close, from getting over the top.

With a hit-parade, eight-run sixth inning, the host Kingsmen 10-run-ruled the Jimmies 14-4 on Wednesday evening to clinch at least a share of the Northern Indiana Conference baseball title.

“Wow,” Penn coach Greg Dikos said of his club’s approach at the plate. “We’ve been preaching, ‘Take what the pitcher gives you,’ and today, we were on with that. I mean, our guys were hitting the heck out of the ball. Really, I thought (Jimtown’s) pitching was pretty good. They were putting it where they wanted, but our guys were doing exactly what we’ve been preaching the last two weeks.”

Those guys were especially doing it during that game-ending eruption in the sixth, when the Kingsmen sent a dozen hitters to the plate.

Ten reached base, nine on hits, the other by walk, capped by Casey Finn’s two-out drive into the left-center gap to score the run that pushed the spread to 10.

Finn, batting in the eighth slot, finished 4-for-4 with three runs batted in. No. 7 hitter Dawson French added a 3-for-4 performance with a triple and two RBIs, and No. 6 hitter River Pecina a 3-for-4 showing with two bunt singles and two stolen bases.

Higher up, in the clean-up spot, Notre Dame recruit RJ Cromartie reached base all four times he batted, ripping a two-run double during that final frame to go with a run-scoring single and two walks. He also pilfered home on a delayed double-steal attempt.

“They were hitting turf with the balls they hit all day — 17 hits — so caps off to them,” Jimmie coach Todd Cook said. “We gotta be better on the mound, but (Penn) can hit.”

The Kingsmen moved to 17-7 overall, 8-1 in the NIC heading into their league finale Monday at Class 3A No. 5 New Prairie (17-5, 6-3), where they can secure an outright crown with a win.

Marian and South Bend Adams, at 7-2 and 6-2 in conference play, respectively, remained alive for a share of the title entering Thursday, though they’ll need to win out and get help from the Cougars.

Jimtown (14-7, 5-4), mathematically alive itself entering Wednesday, fell behind 6-1 through five innings, but staged a two-out, three-run rally to close to within 6-4.

Connor Christman tripled to drive in Cole Dutton and make it 6-2 after Dutton was hit by a pitch. Ashton Blasko doubled in Christman, moved to third on Dalton Cook’s single and scored on a wild pitch for the 6-4 count.

“That’s something that I’ve been looking for from this team, to kind of bounce back, be resilient, handle that adversity, and I was really proud of the guys at the moment,” Todd Cook said. “Honestly, it got out of hand, yes, but we grew a little bit at that moment.”

Jimmie starter Mason Armstrong (3-1), who also singled to drive in the visitors’ first run, worked four innings on the mound. He was charged with five runs, four earned, while striking out three and walking two.

Penn starter Chris Pelletier (3-3) pitched 5.2 innings, scattering nine hits while allowing four runs, all earned. He fanned three and walked one.

“I was very impressed with Jimtown’s hitters,” said Dikos, owner of 837 wins and six state titles (1994, 1998, 2001, 2015, 2022, 2023) over 37 years guiding the Kingsmen. “They kept it short, were stroking it pretty dang good. They were doing it kind of like we were, just hitting the ball where it was pitched. They did a nice job and they’re a good team.”

A busy week for the Jimmies was set to continue Thursday and Friday with home games against NorthWood and Tippecanoe Valley, followed by South Bend Washington visiting on Monday.

Penn is off until its Monday trip to New Prairie.





Mason Armstrong (L, 3-1), Brodric Kaler (5); Chris Pelletier (W, 3-3), Tommy Harringer (6, S).

Jimtown: Hits — Kaler 2. 3B — Connor Christman. 2B — Ashton Blasko.

Penn: Hits — Casey Finn 4, River Pecina 3, Dawson French 3, Brayden Plummer 2, RJ Cromartie 2. 3B — French. 2B — Cromartie. RBI — Cromartie 3, Finn 3, French 2. Runs — Cromartie 3, French 3, Plummer 2, Pecina 2. SB — Pecina 2.

Records: Jimtown 14-7 (5-4 NIC), Penn 17-7 (8-1 NIC).