NEW PALESTINE — It had been nearly a full month since Pendleton Heights’ baseball team had seen the pitching of Greenfield-Central senior Landon Brooks.

On April 30 in Pendleton, the Cougar right-hander threw a complete game, striking out five, in a 9-2 G-C victory.

Fast forward to May 25 in a semifinal game of the New Palestine Sectional, Brooks still has the Arabians’ number.

More dominant the second time around, Brooks had little trouble in another complete game victory, a 3-0 shutout to put G-C in Monday’s championship game against host New Palestine.

Brooks didn’t let a runner reach scoring position until the sixth inning. He fanned eight and did not walk anyone.

“Brooks was phenomenal,” Greenfield-Central head coach Mitch Gibson said. “One thing he does a good job of, he’s always going to locate pitches. He located pitches down in the zone and didn’t leave anything up or give Pendleton a chance even if he missed a pitch. If a hung a slider he wasn’t hanging it in the middle of the plate, he was missing down. He had all three pitches working, fastball, slider and change-up.”

Brooks retired the first five he faced, three by strikeout. After a one-out single by Colin Axel-Adams in the third, the Arabians were back to the top of their order, but Brooks stopped that rally before it started by striking out leadoff hitter Ty Frakes and Mazon Saxon. It was the start of a stretch where he retired eight straight.

While he was doing that the Cougars were getting on the board with one run each in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

In the third after two outs, Dylan Luther reached on an infield single, but when the throw was errant, he was able to get to second base. Brady Johnson was hit by pitch and Zander Cobb followed with a bloop single to right field to score Luther with the game’s first run.

In the fourth, G-C opened with back-to-back singles by Owen Zumbolo and Kyle Oden. Gavin Markus laid down a sacrifice bunt to put pinch-runner Nicholas Flench at third and Oden to second. Lucas Sitzman followed by hitting a slow ground ball to the left side, Pendleton Heights went home to try to get Flench, but he slid in safely for a 2-0 Cougar advantage.

In the fifth, Cobb reached on a one-out walk. Kirk Knecht grounded to short to move courtesy runner Gage Handlon to second. He scored on Zumbolo’s single to center field.

“We’re going to continue to stay who we are,” Gibson said of his smallball Cougars. All eight hits on Saturday were singles. They had one sacrifice bunt, but moved runners over on outs on multiple occasions.

Zumbolo, the senior designated hitter, had missed much of the season. Saturday was just his ninth game. He went 2-for-3 with an RBI. He had a hit and two RBI in the sectional opener against Anderson. After 22 at-bats, he is hitting .318. All three of his RBI are in the postseason.

“Zumbolo has been somebody that hasn’t had a ton of opportunities on the season because he had a little bit of an arm injury,” Gibson said. “We’ve been letting that get fixed. I let him pinch-hit once and it was against some really good pitching. I told him, ‘Guess what? You’ve got yourself a spot in our starting lineup as the DH.’ He’s been hitting ever since and has been a caboose in this lineup that we didn’t think we’d have at the beginning of the season.”

It was plenty enough runs for Brooks, who had his only multi-baserunner inning in the sixth.

With one out, Frakes reached on an infield single. With two away, Jordan Williamson had a single to right, but the inning ended with Jackson Grile hitting a grounder to first baseman Oden, who threw to Brooks covering for the final out.

The Arabians went down in order in the seventh.

“I prepared before the game, got a good stretch in and a good throw and I put my trust in my team behind me,” Brooks said of the keys to his Saturday success. “It makes it a lot easier to throw strikes knowing they’ve got my back and making plays for me.”

The Cougars are in the sectional championship game for the first time since they won the tournament in 2019.

“Our guys will tell you we’ve had one goal at the beginning of the season and it was to win that ballgame we’re being dealt with on Monday,” Gibson said.

Greenfield-Central 3, Pendleton Heights 0

Greenfield-Central (13-13);001;110;0;—;3;8;0

Pendleton Heights (17-11);000;000;0;—;0;4;2

Landon Brooks and Zander Cobb; Jacob Garner, Colton Frank (4) and Rylan Keesling, Jake Eldridge (4). WP: Brooks (6-2). LP: Garner (2-5).