ELIDA — Shawnee needed someone to take control, literally.
The Indians desperately were looking for someone to throw strikes.
Casey Mulcahy came on in the sixth and did that and more.
It was Mulcahy’s walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh that lifted Shawnee to a 9-8 victory over Celina to win the Division II baseball sectional championship Wednesday at Ed Sandy Field.
The game was tied at 8 entering the home seventh when Shawnee’s William Kleffner led off with a double to left. Alex Lehman was inserted to run for Kleffner. Zach Peake’s groundout to short moved Lehman to third.
Mulcahy then hit the first pitch to medium depth right field. Cole Loughridge made the catch in right, but he had no play on Lehman, who easily came home from third with the game-winning run.
“I was looking for his fastball and it was right there, middle out, and I thought I could drive it,” Mulcahy said.
Shawnee (13-8) will meet Lexington in the district semifinals at 2 p.m. May 23 at Bluffton University. Celina ends its year 15-14.
At the plate, Shawnee knocked out 14 hits. Kleffner went 3 for 4 with two RBIs, while Peake was 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Cody Fullenkamp went 2 for 4. Trevor Anderson was 2 for 3 with a triple. Freshman Jake Sevitz went 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs.
Mulcahy (2-0) picked up the win by throwing the game’s final 1 1/3 innings, giving up no runs or hits. He struck out two and walked one.
Mulcahy came on with the bases loaded in the sixth with the game tied at 8. He got Jimmy Luebke to ground the ball to third. Third baseman Andrew Bryan gobbled up the grounder and stepped on the bag for the inning’s final out.
“I didn’t want to try to overthrow,” Mulcahy said. “I wanted to keep my front side closed and tried to get a weak ground ball or something that the infield or the outfield could handle.”
Shawnee coach Scott Newman said, “Casey is our closer. This his mindset and that’s what he wants to do and that’s what he likes. Casey throws strikes. Then, he came through in a clutch situation and got us a fly ball and won the game.”
In the Celina seventh, Riley Luebke walked and went to second on a wild pitch. Mulcahy then struck out Damon Smith and Shawn Stachler to escape any damage.
Shawnee right-hander Cory Wilder started for the Indians, but went only four innings. He gave up five runs, three earned, on four hits. He struck out five, walked two and hit a batter. Wilder threw 80 pitches, 45 for strikes.
“We knew Cory was having trouble throwing strikes this year,” Celina coach Drew Braun said. “We were going up to the plate saying, ‘Make him throw strikes.’”
Tyler Anderson came on in the fifth, but lasted only 1 2/3 innings, giving up three earned runs and hitting four batters.
With the game tied at 2, Shawnee scored five in the second to take a 7-2 lead. Celina helped out with three errors in the inning. The Bulldogs had four errors on the day.
The big hit for Shawnee in the second was Peake’s three-run double to left-center field to make it 7-2.
Celina’s three-run sixth tied the game at 8. Anderson hit both Aric Fickert and Kyle Berry with the bases loaded to tie it at 8 and bring on Mulcahy.
“We put ourselves in the hole and we said we had to hit ourselves out of it,” Braun said. “We got a few hits, got some walks, got some hit batters and all of a sudden we’re putting some runs across the plate. The next thing you know it’s a tie ballgame.”
For Celina, Adam Fickert went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Berry went 1 for 3 with three RBIs. Cody Vogel had a solo home run in the third.
Newman knew his team was fortunate to move on after his pitchers walked four and hit five batters.
“We got lucky today,” he said. “You don’t win too many ball games when you do that.”
Shawnee vs. Celina