GREENFIELD — Once the sectional pairings for the 51st annual IHSAA state baseball tournament were drawn live Friday night, Greenfield-Central head coach Robbie Miller already had his lineup set.
His pitching lineup at least.
“I know who I’m throwing Game 1,” Miller quipped. “I’m not going to be that guy that throws off to save him because I’d kick myself if he ends up not throwing in sectional.”
The “him” Miller was referring to is senior ace Drey Jameson, a Ball State recruit, who has been nearly unhittable for the Cougars.
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At 5-0 with a microscopic 0.40 ERA, Jameson leads the Hoosier Heritage Conference with 57 strikeouts in 35.0 innings. He’s tossed four shutouts, five complete games and a no-hitter against Lawrence North. He’s allowed a minuscule 13 hits.
There’s no second guessing, Miller said, not with the path the Cougars were bestowed after the IHSAA’s random draw in Indianapolis.
Greenfield-Central (11-5, 5-3 HHC) will face Anderson (9-8) in the semifinals during the Class 4A Pendleton Heights Sectional later this month.
The Cougars and Indians were handed a first-round bye, while Muncie Central (6-10) plays Richmond (10-8) in the opening game. HHC rivals New Castle (14-5, 5-3 HHC) and Pendleton Heights duel in the first round as well with the winners meeting in the other semifinal.
The Cougars last won a sectional title in 2012-13.
“Anytime you get the bye, that’s good,” Miller said. “But anytime you get to sectional, you know you’re going to get the best from anyone you’re playing. Good thing is we have to win one versus two games to get to the sectional championship. You want to get there to give your kids a chance to win.”
The Cougars haven’t seen the Indians yet, but that will change on May 15 when Greenfield-Central hosts Anderson during the regular-season.
In 4A Sectional 10 at Warren Central, the Mt. Vernon Marauders (5-11, 2-6 HHC) are more than familiar with their first-round sectional opponent.
Drawing No. 4 Cathedral (16-0), the two teams will play in a rematch of last year’s semifinal. In 2016, the Marauders upended the Irish 9-7 before falling to eventual sectional champion Lawrence North in the finals 8-4.
Back then, the Marauders finished with an 18-9 record. Struggling this season, Mt. Vernon is focused on regaining its form before the second season in search of its first sectional title since 2011.
“By the time we get to sectional, we’ll be playing our best baseball. We’ll have to play our best to get through Cathedral. We know that,” Mt. Vernon head coach Ryan Carr said. “We surprised a lot of folks by beating them last year, and we’re going to find a way to do it again.”
If the Marauders prevail, they will see the winner between Warren Central (7-6) and Lawrence Central (8-10) in the semifinals. Indianapolis Tech (1-14) and Lawrence North (11-8) drew first-round byes and will play in the other semifinal.
In 3A Sectional 26, the fourth-ranked New Palestine Dragons (13-3, 7-1 HHC) received a first-round bye and will await the winner between Indianapolis Manual (7-3) and host Bishop Chatard (5-10).
Defending sectional champion Brebeuf Jesuit (8-11) plays Herron (4-7) in the other semifinal in the five-team tournament.
“No disrespect to the other teams, but there are three teams capable of winning it, and we’re going to have to beat two of them,” New Palestine head coach Shawn Lyons said. “You’d like to have a better draw, but we’ve faced this before.”
They’ve succeeded, too, winning six sectional titles in the past nine years, including back-to-back in 2014 and 2015.
“Hopefully, you advance, and with Brebeuf on the other side, we know they’ll be in the championship game. They were preseason top three and have everyone back from last year,” Lyons said. “Chatard is very well coached, and it’s someone that if you take lightly, they will beat you.”
New Palestine beat Brebeuf Jesuit 8-6 on April 24. The lost to the Braves 9-5 in the semifinals a year ago.
In 2A Sectional, the Eastern Hancock Royals (10-7) open the tournament against host Triton Central (7-8). The Royals split a doubleheader with the Tigers on April 22, winning one game 11-1 and losing the other 2-1.
No. 5 Heritage Christian (10-2) opens with Irvington (3-7) in the first round with the winner playing either the Royals or Tigers. Indianapolis Howe and Broad Ripple drew automatic berths into the other semifinal.
Eastern Hancock reached the sectional final last year, losing to Heritage Christian 15-5. The Royals’ last sectional title was in 1975-76.