A lot happened 30 years ago in 1982. The first compact disc player was sold in Japan. The movie E.T. was a box-office hit. EPCOT was officially opened at Disney World. But most importantly to Roncalli Head Coach Keith Hatfield, who by first glance looks as if he wasn't even born yet, it was the last time the Roncalli Rebels played in the IHSAA Baseball State championship in a 7-1 loss to LaPorte.
"This is really big for the southside community," said Hatfield.
"A lot of people, just since we have been making this run, have really said how proud of these guys they are. You would have been around a long time remember this time of run. The school, the classmates, everybody is really excited and looking forward to Saturday."
The Rebels (23-8-1) are riding a six game win-streak on their way to Saturday's IHSAA Class 4A State championship where they will face-off against the Lake Central Indians (31-1).
Roncalli returned eight seniors in 2012 and expected to have a pretty impressive start from the beginning, starting the season off to a hot 6-0 start with impressive victories of Brebeuf Jesuit, Indianapolis Cathedral, and Lawrence Central. However multiple players caught a flu-bug around mid-April, effecting the play on the field and the columns in the standings, with the Rebels going 3-6 to end the month.
But by time the Rebels hit the home-stretch in May, the team turned the season around at the Marion County Championship. There Roncalli defeated Lawrence Central 7-3 in extra innings, with Senior pitcher Colin Hawk (10-1, 2.38 ERA) getting out of a crucial bases-loaded jam when the score was tied 3-3 in the fifth inning. From there on out, the Rebels have been nearly unbeatable, capping their latest victory in an 8-3 victory over New Palestine in the Semi-State championship. In the game Senior Brad Fey went 2-4 with 3 RBI's, Senior Nick Wright also added two base hits with 2 RBI's, and Hawk won his fourth game of the post-season with a complete game and five strikeouts.
"We just had to hit the ball," said Hawk, who will be attending the University of Cincinnati to play next spring. "I knew our defense was going to be there, we are a tough defensive team, and they did."
The Rebels have been a tough team to crack on defense, having allowed more than five runs in a game just once since May 4th. Much of the success can be traced back to seven seniors playing in the field at once, but Sophomore Aaron Scnhell (6-1, 1.64 ERA) and Hawk have been dominant on the mound all season long. Roncalli Head Coach Hatfield couldn't praise his senior Hawk enough.
"He has done anything and everything I have asked him to in the State tournament," said Hatfield. "Throwing multiple games in the same day, and he is also our lead-off hitter. He really sets the tone for us, and is one of the top players in runs scored this year. When he gets on base, he is really successful."
Hawk is batting .384 in the number-one spot, but is joined by a hot-hitting Joe Ardizzone (.404, 24 RBI's) and Jordan Reeser (.374, 30 RBI's) in a line-up that is going to need to be on it's game against Lake Central Saturday night. The Indians have two starting pitchers in Seniors Taylor Lehnert (11-0, 0.69 ERA) and Jimmy McNamara (9-1, 0.75 ERA) that are both going to Central Michigan next year, and have been unhittable all season long.
But Roncalli has faith entering into Saturday that they will be able to produce some runs on the scoreboard by the end of the game.
"We hit them," said Senior Nick Wright. "We have been working on lefty pitchers, righty pitchers, and we've hit fastballs," said Wright. "They have a kid that throws pretty hard, but we hit a kid last year that threw pretty hard in the Marion County Championship. So we will be alright."
Roncalli and Lake Central will face-off Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. at Victory Field, the game can be viewed on WTTV-4 at 7:30 p.m.