NEW PALESTINE — In his first varsity start, New Palestine junior Troy Treat was handed quite the task.
Facing the second-ranked team in Class 4A, Treat held visiting Cathedral as long as he could. And his teammates nearly pulled off the upset.
After taking a 3-2 lead in the bottom half of the fifth inning, the Class 3A No. 7 Dragons allowed three runs in the top of the sixth and fell just short Wednesday 6-4.
New Palestine’s Jarrett Jaques, who relieved Treat in the third inning with the bases loaded and no outs, took the loss for the Dragons (9-4).
“We prepped him (Treat) for this over the summer,” Dragons head coach Shawn Lyons said. “He will get better from it, and we expect better from him.
“He (Jaques) does well when he keeps the ball down and hits his spots. Everything moves for him. He competes on the mound and looks confident. He did a nice job coming in with the bases loaded. It could have been 5-0 after that.”
Junior Keegan Watson led New Palestine offensively, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI.
He now has five doubles on the year to go along with five home runs.
“He did a nice job and had two big hits for us tonight,” Lyons said of Watson, who is now hitting .424 this season. “I couldn’t pick a better hitter that I want up. He is batting third for us for a reason.”
Senior Trey Craig entered in the third inning for Jared Poland and earned the win on the mound for Cathedral (13-2).
Dragons senior Braden Roberts doubled to lead off the fifth inning and Watson followed with a deep double of his own to left field, which scored Roberts, for a New Palestine lead.
Cathedral regained the lead, though, after loading the bases in the top half of the sixth. After a questionable call at second base, which would have put two outs on the scoreboard, Poland tripled to score two Irish runs for a 5-3 advantage.
Dragons freshman Colby Jenkins singled in the bottom half of the inning, however, as sophomore Nick Rusche brought him in with a single past first base, making it 5-4 Irish with one inning left to play.
Cathedral added an insurance run in the seventh as the Dragons failed to make any magic happen in the bottom half of the inning despite a lead-off double from senior Zach Lovell.
In the bottom half of the fourth inning, New Palestine tied the score at 2-all when senior Caleb VanderWal scored off a wild throw after stealing third base. VanderWal was walked to begin the inning and Rusche was hit by a pitch as New Palestine kept the pressure on the state-ranked visitors.
Rusche finished the game 2-for-2 with two singles and a hit-by-pitch, but it was not enough for the Dragons, who finished with seven hits, for their second-straight loss.
Roberts finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored while Jacob Smith added an RBI in the third inning.
“He has worked hard coming off of shoulder surgery,” Lyons said of Roberts, the team’s two-hole hitter. “He is starting to get more comfortable and strong with his bat.”
Cathedral, which began its season on a 10-game winning streak, has only lost to Homestead (5-4) and New Castle (2-0) this season.
New Palestine looks to bounce back today at home against Connersville. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
The Dragons host Greenfield-Central on Friday in Hoosier Heritage Conference doubleheader action. New Palestine is currently 5-1 in the HHC, with Pendleton Heights, Mt. Vernon and Greenfield-Central not far behind.
Cathedral 6, New Palestine 4
CHS (13-2);020;003;1; – ;6;7;4
NPHS (9-4);001;111;0; – ;4;7;4
WP: Trey Craig (CHS). LP: Jarrett Jaques (NP).
2B: Watson 2, Roberts, Lovell (NP), Johnson (CHS). 3B: Poland (CHS). RBI: Spicer, Drehs, Poland 2, Gomez (CHS), Smith, Watson, Rusche (NP). SB: VanderWal (NP).
Watson 2-for-4, two double, RBI. Rusche two singles. Roberts two runs scored. Smith and Lovell with double.