Going into regionals, you can easily make the assumption that the Castle Knights were least likely of the four schools to win it at Evansville's historic Bosse Field on June 2.
After all, the team Castle was set to play in the morning session, Columbus East, was ranked 11th in the state. If unranked Castle was to get past Columbus, they would more than likely have to face the sixth ranked Jeffersonville Red Devils in the night game.
The Castle Knights defied all conventional wisdom and and advanced to the semi state for the first time since 2014. For Castle's seniors, this was their first year
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ever advancing past the sectional in the IHSAA tournament.
"We knew we could do it," Knights coach Curt Welch said. "Our sectional (played the week before regional) was tough as well. Our kids played tough."
The Knights played the first game of the morning session against the Colombus East Olympians on a warm and muggy day. The Knights got things started early as they scored four runs in the first and forced the Olympians to make a pitching change before the inning was over.
Brody Heaton and Ben Newhouse each had RBI singles to begin the Knights scoring. The biggest in the first inning came from a bunt by Nate James. With two outs and the bases loaded, the senior laid down the perfect bunt that scored the runner from third as James reached safely on the safety squeeze.
The four-run first was more than enough support for Castle's pitching ace Zach Messinger. The Virginia commit pitched 6 1/3 innings only giving up one run on one hit. Midway through the game, Messinger and his battery mate Noah Gilbert each suffered cramps due to the heat. Both would stay in the game. Castle would win the game by the score of 7-3.
"Messinger came out and pitched a heck of a game," Welch would say after the game.
Messinger would also play in the night game against Jeffersonville in the Regional Championship but only as the designated hitter.
The Knights would score first against Jeffersonville in the second as CJ Backer would hit a line drive up the middle to drive in a run.
But the lead wouldn't last.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Red Devils would get a one out triple by Ethan English. The very next hitter, Blayden McMahel, would hit the ball over Bosse Field's left field wall to get the Red Devils the 2-1 lead.
Jeffersonville would get another home run from the very next hitter as Baily Falkenstein would also ding one over the wall giving the Red Devils the 3-1 lead.
Down 3-1 in the fifth, there was no quit in these Castle Knights.
After Castle would get one in the fifth, the Knights would score four in the sixth. After the first two hitters got out, Castle's next five would get on in the sixth. Garron Moffett, Griffin Scaggs, and Messinger would have back-to-back-to-back singles to give the Knights the lead they would never lose as the final score read 6-3 Castle.
The Knights will play Indianapolis Cathedral in the semi-state. The game will be played in Plainfield. Cathedral has a 22-8-1 record. They defeated fourth ranked Roncalli and Terre Haute South in the Decatur Central Regional to advance.