Over the last 20-plus seasons, winning has been pretty common for New Palestine’s baseball program.

They went to back-to-back state championship games in 2003 and 2004, winning the title in ’04.

They’ve won 2o or more games five times in the last nine seasons, and have had 19 wins twice during that span.

The sectional title earned late last month was the second straight and 18th in school history. Winning last Saturday’s regional title was the program’s seventh and first since 2014.

If they win twice today, they’ll be back in a state championship game.

“It’s something we don’t take for granted,” New Palestine coach Shawn Lyons said. “I told our players it’s an honor and a privilege to be playing in the Final 8 of Class 4A baseball. We’ve won seven regionals and have been to the state finals twice. It’s tough. We’re kind of getting in rarefied air now.

“As we get closer to the ballgame, we’ve seen the intensity, atmosphere and attention to detail pick up.”

New Palestine (23-9) is one of four teams playing in the Class 4A South Semi-State at Plainfield High School today. Four others are playing in the North Semi-State at LaPorte. By the end of the day only two teams will remain.

The Dragons will take on No. 9 Castle (24-6) at 11 a.m. Brownsburg (16-12) and No. 1 Center Grove (27-3) will play at 2 p.m. The winners play at 8 p.m. Up north, Homestead (19-9) faces Hamilton Southeastern (19-14) and Penn (19-8) takes on No. 3 Lake Central (27-4).

New Palestine won 24 games last year before losing to Cathedral in the regional final. They graduated a number of players from the 2022 team, but are back again among the last few remaining in the Class 4A field.

“We were inexperienced starting off (the season),” Lyons said. “When we met as a staff in the offseason, we said, ‘I don’t know how good we’re going to be, but with our staff and what we do, we’re going to be as good as we can be.’ The culture, the coaching staff — the assistant coaches I have are outstanding — I let them coach. I trust them.

“I think it is ingrained in our program, you’re going to work hard. So many kids that didn’t get a chance to play last year were talented. They just had to play behind six or seven guys that are playing college baseball this year. They bided their time and once they got confidence early in the season they seemed to take off.”

The Dragons seem to do what most teams strive for, play their best baseball at the end of the season. In 2022, they reeled off 18 of their last 19 before falling to the Irish in the regional championship. This year’s team started 5-5 and has now won five in a row and 10 of the last 12.

The task to continue that stretch of wins only gets tougher. Lyons said his club realizes everybody is good when gets to so few teams remaining.

Castle boasts one of the state’s best pitchers, right-handed pitcher Cameron Tilly, considered by Prep Baseball Report as the No. 2 prospect in the state. Tilly has committed to Auburn.

The Dragons have pitched well, too, and played good defense throughout the postseason. They’ve given up only two runs in four games. All three wins in the Mt. Vernon sectional were shutouts, including a 1-0 semifinal gem by junior Michael Thorpe and a 2-0, one-hitter by senior righty Blaine Nunnally.

Nunnally fanned 10 in the regional title victory over Cathedral. He is 7-1 on the season.

“We’ll be challenged for sure …,” Lyons added, noting that if they don’t see Tilly, Castle has a strong lefty, in sophomore Missouri commit Will Coleman. “When you get this far that’s what it’s all about. We’ve been in nail-biters this year. We’ve won 1-0, 2-0 and last week 4-2. I think it’s going to be one of those type of games.”

IHSAA Class 4A Baseball Tournament


North Semi-State

At LaPorte (Schreiber Field)

Homestead (19-9) vs. Hamilton Southeastern (19-14), 10:30 a.m. CT

Penn (19-8) vs. No. 3 Lake Central (27-4), 1 p.m. CT

Championship, 7 p.m. CT

South Semi-State

At Plainfield

New Palestine (23-9) vs. No. 9 Castle (24-6), 11 a.m.

Brownsburg (16-12) vs. No. 1 Center Grove (27-3), 2 p.m.

Championship, 8 p.m.