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Tigers shutout Spartans for 12th consecutive county title

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Southwestern’s Will Doty stands on second base Friday with Triton Central shortstop Matt Guhl keeping him close to the bag.
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The Triton Central baseball team topped Class A No. 9 Southwestern for the county title Friday.

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

FAIRLAND — Solid defense and timely hitting proved to be enough for the Triton Central baseball team Friday in a 4-0 win over Class No. 9 Southwestern. Playing for the Shelby County Tournament title, the Tigers used a quick start and a smooth outing from sophomore starting pitcher Hayden Kermode to win their 12th consecutive championship. 

Kermode added an RBI in the sixth frame to set the final 4-0 score. TC, after Keyan McKee scored on a passed ball, led 3-0 after two innings of play en route to the victory. 

"I knew coming in that I had to try and get (Southwestern) with my fastball," Kermode said. "The top of their order is good, and I knew I had to trust my defense behind me. I knew I could rely on them."

Despite the loss, it has been an impressive season for Southwestern, which was ranked No. 4 in Class A earlier this season. The Spartans (11-3) have pitching and hitting depth, which should serve the team well as it hopes to make another appearance in the Morristown Sectional final. The team fell to Lutheran last season in the sectional championship. 

On Friday, SW starting pitcher Anthony Atwood took the loss on the mound against the Tigers. He settled down after allowing the three early runs and was able to get out of a jam in the fifth inning with a strikeout. TC stranded three runners in the fifth inning but remained in control with a 3-0 lead. 

After a tough week, TC head coach Justin Bergman said the Tigers were focused the entire evening Friday. 

"It was more of a mentality for us tonight against a good Southwestern team," Bergman said. "We struggled earlier this week with our mental game but it was better tonight. Moving forward, our pitching needs to continue (to do well). Hayden and Colton Brown have been good for us. If we can clean up some baserunning errors and stay with our approach at the plate, good things will happen."

SW head coach Chris Ingels was impressed with TC (10-4) Friday. He said Aaron Steele, especially, is a great player that helps the Tigers offensively at the leadoff spot and defensively at second base. Steele helped turn a double play to keep SW from making noise in the fourth inning. Fielding an awkward ground ball to his right, Steele flipped the ball shortstop Matt Guhl, who fired the ball to Colton Brown at first base. 

"They are really talented, and I think Aaron Steele is awesome," Ingels said. "He puts pressure on the defense when he gets on base. They just have a lot of speed and weapons."

The Spartans, who beat Waldron 10-0 Friday to advance to the county final, scored a run in the sixth inning against TC. However, the run was taken off the board. After Anick Hartsell hit a sacrifice fly to left field, a SW runner on third base was called out for leaving the base too early. Aiden Hartsell singled earlier in the inning as the Spartans had two runners on base with one out. 

With Christian DeArmitt, Aiden and Anick Hartsell and Atwood at the top of the order, Southwestern has a dangerous lineup. 

"Christian's on-base percentage is well over .600, so we moved him up to the leadoff spot," Ingels said. "Aiden has been leading us in hits all year, so we moved him down to No. 2. Anick and Anthony have been good, too, but we have several guys hitting over .350 or .400. We have a deep lineup."

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.