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PREP BASEBALL: Engle punches out 19, Westview repeats as sectional champs

May 26—BUTLER — It was a band of brothers that controlled the pace and action on the road Monday in the 2A Sectional 38 final.

Westview's junior twins Max and Jaxon Engle used the pitcher-catcher combo to barrel through Blazer batters, scoring a 3-1 win for the Warriors (18-10) in the sectional championship game against host Eastside (16-9).

"You got Max on the mound, Jaxon behind the plate; they got that special connection as brothers that we can't make up so I thought [Jaxon] called an unbelievable game behind the plate and [Max] pitched an absolute gem," Westview head coach Jason Rahn said after securing the 11th sectional title in Warriors history — the second consecutive for the program.

Max Engle allowed just one run on one hit, walking three and totaling 19 strikeouts, striking out the side in the seventh inning for his fourth time that Monday. The 19 strikeouts were a new career-high for the pitcher.

"Him being my twin brother, I always know what pitch he's going to call next and I don't like getting out of my rhythm," Max Engle said about his afternoon on the mound, working quickly and limiting downtime between pitches. Eastside did little to interfere with the rhythm, keeping Max in charge of the game's tempo — finishing well before the two-hour mark.

"The changeup I use the least, I use that one mostly to righty's," Max Engle said, describing the three pitches he used to discard the Blazers. "Today Jaxon told me around the fourth inning to just go with the fastball to attack them with the fastball. I'll sprinkle in curveballs but I think what helps is when my fastball is dialed in, that helps my curveball."

It was the first win in three tries this season for Westview. The Warriors lost an 11-game thriller 2-1 in the Northeast Corner Conference tournament — a game that Max also pitched in. In the regular season finale, the Blazers spoiled a chance for Rahn's team to claim a share of the NECC title, losing 5-4. The Warriors committed seven errors between the two games.

"We kept reminding the infielders 'work hard in between innings; make sure you are ready because you never know,'" Rahn said, reminding the often still-standing Warriors' defense to stay stretched just in case Eastside made connection. "You can't take a chance in a tight ballgame. They've all been tight, all three ball games this year have been tight. You have to tip your hat to them."

It's the first time Westview has won back-to-back sectional titles in 38 years, last accomplishing the feat in 1984-86.

Rahn also correctly pointed out that the Warriors have now been to four consecutive sectional finals, winning the last two.

"It feels good, I'm tearing up for other reasons actually it has nothing to do with that," Rahn said. "Had some hard news that we heard about last night but we're going to deal with it and we're going to celebrate this. "We've been in this game at least four years in a row and we've now won the last two so I'm absolutely thrilled with our guys."

Westview didn't take long to tack on the first run of the ballgame. The Warriors — playing as the home team — loaded the bases against Eastside ace Jace Mayberry in the first. With the second of two straight full-count walks take by Maverick Deveau, Westview took a 1-0 lead before a strikeout and a grounder to short ended the frame.

It was déjà vu for the Warriors in the second. With Scott Yoder reaching on a sharp single and Jayce Brandenberger sacrifice-bunting him over to second, Jaxon Engle roped a laser down the third base side, scoring Yoder and setting up a 2-0 lead.

With Max Engle striking out the side in the second and third, he faced his first trouble in the fourth. Two walks hurt the junior when the first came around to score via a double from Noah Acquaviva. With the bases clogged and one out, Max Engle struck out the final two hitters, one looking and one swinging.

Now up 2-1, the Warriors tagged the Blazers for another when Deveau came around to score on a wild pitch.

"It's awesome," Max Engle said of his offense's production. "I think even that fifth or sixth inning where Maverick Deveau hits that double and then ends up scoring on the wild pitch; that's huge. That's giving you one extra run of insurance and that's huge."

Entering the seventh with 16 strikeouts, tying his personal best, Eastside put together attempts to go down trying. A five and eight-pitch at-bat drew multiple foul balls from the host Blazers, Max Engle seemed unphased with the goal in mind.

"I just need to keep throwing strikes, I know what they are trying to do," Max Engle said. "They're not really trying to put a good swing on it, they're just trying to tip it."

"I think I was coming off a four-day rest from Central Noble," Engle continued, finding the different between his first time against the Blazers this season and the second time Monday. "I don't think I had my best stuff. I competed well but this time was different because I had a full week's rest."

Westview totaled three runs on six hits and no errors. Eastside scored one run on one hit and no errors. Jaxon Engle was 3-4 on the day with three singles and an RBI.

Westview got to the finale following wins over Prairie Heights (10-0) Wednesday and Whitko (8-3) on Saturday. The Warriors will get a chance to win back-to-back regional titles next weekend with a location to be determined by the IHSAA on Wednesday. They'll face Eastbrook (12-14), winners of the South Adams sectional.

Westview 3, Eastside 1

Westview advances to Saturday's regional round against Eastbrook with location to be determined by the IHSAA Wednesday.

Reach Matt Lucas at 574-533-2151, ext. 240325, or at matt.lucas@goshennews.com.