Elkhart Central headed to baseball state championship game for 1st time

Cory Malcom and Riley Futterknecht drove in the game tying and winning runs and Tanner Tully threw a complete game 4-hitter as Elkhart Central beat Lafayette Jefferson 2-1 Saturday afternoon at Covelski Stadium in the 4A Baseball Semi-State.

The Blue Blazers, making their first appearance in Semi-State in 25 years and just the 3rd in program history, will play for the state championship for the first time ever next Saturday at Victory Field in Indianapolis against undefeated Cathedral.

"Oh man, it feels amazing," senior leftfielder Kaleb DeFreese said moments after the win. "I have butterflies. I feel like I'm floating right now. It feels great."

Central is now 31-1.

Tully, who will pitch next season at Ohio State, was once again fantastic. He gave up just four hits and one run on a botched pickoff play. He struck out 10 including the last batter to clinch the win. Tully was mobbed on the mound by his teammates as Central celebrated the historic moment.

"It means everything in the world," the soft-spoken Tully said. "It's all I ever worked for."

Down 1-0 in the 5th, Tully helped himself out by getting on base with a single. Arkansas Little-Rock bound Cory Malcom then drove Tully in with a double to tie the game at 1. The next batter was Riley Futterknecht, who blooped a singled into right allowing Malcom to score the go ahead run.

"I heard my guys cheering for me and I couldn't let them down," Futterknecht explained. "I knew I was going to get that hit."

Led by eight senior starters, the Blazers are sending their head coach Steve Stutsman to the championship game for the first time in his career.

"This is one of the best feelings in my life, I must say," the 18-year Central head coach said. "There are thousands of high schools that coached that will never have the opportunity to get to a championship game and I'm very, very blessed. I'm honored to be coaching this team, they are just a fantastic group of kids."

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