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Westfield hadn't won a baseball regional in 15 years, so a 5-hour delay was nothing.

LAFAYETTE – On Memorial Day, no-hit pitching and web-gem defense worthy of ESPN’s Top 10 proved Westfield’s forte.

On Saturday, the Shamrocks added another element and broke out the bats to upend McCutcheon in the Class 4A Regional 4 championship at Loeb Stadium, 13-2, and clinch their first regional title since 2009.

Westfield (21-10) swatted 13 hits led by the heart of its batting order, and compliments of a five-hour delay due to inclement weather, the Shamrocks literally made themselves right at home long before the first pitch.

Westfield Shamrocks infielder Ian Wilson (27) and Westfield Shamrocks outfielder Alex Rudolph (15) celebrate during the IHSAA 4A regional championship baseball game against the McCutcheon Mavericks, Saturday, June 1, 2024, at Loeb Stadium in Lafayette, Ind. Westfield won 13-2.
Westfield Shamrocks infielder Ian Wilson (27) and Westfield Shamrocks outfielder Alex Rudolph (15) celebrate during the IHSAA 4A regional championship baseball game against the McCutcheon Mavericks, Saturday, June 1, 2024, at Loeb Stadium in Lafayette, Ind. Westfield won 13-2.

“Obviously, I don’t think it had any bearing or anything, but it was maybe the longest five hours of our lives,” Westfield coach Ryan Bunnell laughed. “We stayed here during the delay, ate at Arni’s (across the street), and they just let us stay in the suites, so I was herding cats for five hours.”

Originally scheduled for 3 p.m., the regional title game was moved to 8 p.m. as storms swept across the state, which forced some regional games to be postponed until Monday.

In between 45-minute rounds of Uno and watching college baseball on TVs inside the home of the Prospect League’s Lafayette Aviators, the Shamrocks stayed locked in despite the downtime.

Senior shortstop Brayden Hibler verified it once play began by lining the Shamrocks’ first hit into center field in the top of the first before finishing a perfect 4-for-4 with two singles, a double, a triple, three runs scored and four RBIs.

“I definitely felt like I had been underperforming for the last few weeks, so me and my father got into the process, and we got it working again. We turned it around tonight, and we went 4-for-4. That’s what happens,” said Hibler, a Central Missouri commit.

“I was a home run away. The pitcher threw me a breaking ball (in the seventh), and I should have waited back and drove it over that left-field fence for the cycle.”

Hibler’s second hit, a two-run triple in the top of the third, kicked off a five-run rally and a three-hit inning that was fueled by a pair of passed balls and a McCutcheon error. The Shamrocks sent 10 batters to the plate.

Caden Lindsey opened the frame with a single. Drew Law (three runs) followed with his first of three walks drawn. Passed balls moved both runners into scoring position, and Hibler made McCutcheon sophomore starter Samuel Swank, a Kentucky recruit, pay.

Westfield Shamrocks celebrate after the IHSAA 4A regional championship baseball game against the McCutcheon Mavericks, Saturday, June 1, 2024, at Loeb Stadium in Lafayette, Ind. Westfield won 13-2.
Westfield Shamrocks celebrate after the IHSAA 4A regional championship baseball game against the McCutcheon Mavericks, Saturday, June 1, 2024, at Loeb Stadium in Lafayette, Ind. Westfield won 13-2.

“No one expected us to get this far, so when a team comes out and puts five on you right away, it really deflates their energy,” Hibler said. “When you get your two guys, me and (Matt) Drozlek, going, and we show this team that we can hit this kid, it kind of takes off from there. Hitting is contagious, I guess. It likes to work its way up.”

Drozlek, an Akron recruit, went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, including a single to score Hibler in the third. The junior first baseman doubled to bring Hibler home during Westfield’s three-run top of the fourth.

“It’s funny, he actually started at the beginning of the game saying both of us would go 4-for-4. It just felt like that type of game,” Drozlek said. “It’s funny because I think everything builds off each other. By him getting that hard single to start the game, I think that really helped us as a team to know we can actually hit that kid.”

Swank was lifted after three innings with 78 pitches thrown, four strikeouts, three walks, five hits allowed, one hit batter and two passed balls while contending with wet fielding conditions.

The Mavericks (22-5) deployed five pitchers, but the Shamrocks plated two more runs in the fifth and three in the seventh, leading 5-0 after the third and 8-1 following the fourth.

Westfield’s three through six hitters in the order combined to go 10-for-15 with three walks, two extra-base hits and 10 RBIs. Senior Alex Rudolph, a Grace College commit, was 2-for-5 with three RBIs. Junior Ian Wilson (1-for-3) drove in a run in the fourth inning.

“I will credit our guys, though. I thought they did a really good job with (the delay). Sometimes you do that, and guys come out flat and all that. They didn’t, obviously. This group has just been resilient,” Bunnell said. “I can’t say enough about how they executed the plan today. Our offensive plan, man, they were phenomenal.”

The defense and pitching were right on par.

Ty Anderson, who threw a no-hitter in the Sectional 8 final to complete Westfield’s gauntlet run, went 6.1 innings with four strikeouts, four walks, four hits allowed and threw 98 pitches.

Anderson, an Eastern Illinois commit, escaped a jam in the bottom of the first by striking out two with runners at third and second base and one out.

“Ty pitched another great game in tough conditions. There was kind of a mist throughout all of it. The ball was kind of slimy. He lost the slider there for a while because he just couldn’t grip it, so we had to go to his change-up a little bit more, and he just adjusted as a pitcher,” Bunnell said.

A trio of inning-ending double plays — two spearheaded by Hibler — and some slick glove work by the Shamrocks ace silenced any potential momentum shift.

“I thought Brayden Hibler was phenomenal today. Had huge hits,” Bunnell said. “Really big defensive plays. He’s just playing really, really well right now. I’m really proud of him.”

Hibler turned the Shamrocks’ first inning-ending double play in the bottom of the second with a runner on first base. Hibler scooped up a grounder for the unassisted putout at second base before firing over to Drozlek for the third out.

Wilson ended the bottom of the third with a double play and runners on the corners, beginning with a ground ball tag out near third base before making a laser throw to first base.

Hibler kicked off the third double play in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded, sliding on the turf and throwing from his knees to senior Tyler Gentry at second base, who rocketed the ball to Drozlek.

“We played really good defense today. We had several plus, plus plays that were big. Anytime they started to get a little something going, our defense came up with a big play to kind of take them right out of it,” Bunnell said.

McCutcheon scored an uncontested run in the bottom of the fourth, as Westfield converted three straight groundballs into putouts at first base after a leadoff double by Jacob Winger (1-for-4).

The Mavericks second run scored in the bottom of the seventh on a wild pitch by Anderson, who was relieved by senior Sam Everts, a Capital University recruit, with one out.

The Shamrocks are getting acquainted with winning, stretching their streak to nine consecutive while reaching a state tournament point they haven’t seen since their state runner-up run in 2008-09.

“Those were good years, so I kind of get to revisit those a little bit and make some new ones,” Bunnell said. “Hopefully, we can erase that (state loss) this year, but we have a tough task ahead. A two-game semistate is a tough task, but it’s good to have that task.”

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Westfield beats McCutcheon for IHSAA baseball regional championship