Warsaw pitcher Marselo Rodriguez prepares to release a pitch during the semifinals of the Indiana Little League State Finals Friday against Portage in Wabash. Photo by Anthony Gadson, Times-Union
Warsaw pitcher Marselo Rodriguez prepares to release a pitch during the semifinals of the Indiana Little League State Finals Friday against Portage in Wabash. Photo by Anthony Gadson, Times-Union


WABASH — The Warsaw Little League Senior All-Stars had their season come to a close one game shy of the state title game.
Facing Portage in the semifinals of the state tournament Friday afternoon at Wabash High School, the Warsaw squad fell 6-5.
“I’m proud of all of them,” Warsaw coach Jeff Fitzgerald said. “They’ve accomplished so much, but in all honesty, I’m disappointed that we didn’t even come close to our potential. We didn’t even get halfway there.”
Warsaw put itself down early, as Portage plated three runs in the top of the first.
Undaunted, Warsaw went on to tie it at 3-3, following two runs in the first and another in the second, but again found themselves playing catch-up after allowing two more runs in the top of the fourth.
Like it had done earlier, Warsaw battled back, plating two more to tie it in the bottom of the inning.
But after Portage put another run on the board in the top of the fifth, Warsaw just ran out of steam.
“We just didn’t hit the ball – at all,” Fitzgerald said of his squad, which hit eight singles and committed five defensive errors. “Our defense fell apart. It’s real disappointing. In all honesty, (Portage isn’t) a better ball club. We had the better ball club. We just didn’t play like it.”
All the miscues may be attributed to mental fatigue, as the game was the team’s fourth in four nights, and the guys played until 10:30 p.m. the previous night against Wabash.
“I’m sure the grind of playing day after day led to things, but they’re high school kids,” Fitzgerald said. “They’ve got stamina, they’ve got conditioning.”
And Fitzgerald knows high school kids, as the hottest-hitting one of the day was his own.
A day after going 0 for 3 against Wabash, Josh Fitzgerald went 3 for 4 against Portage, knocking in a run and stealing a base.
“He’s been struggling at the plate for whatever reason,” his father/coach said. “We’ve been in backyard working and I’ve been grinding things into his head. He came to the plate focused and he was one getting base hits.”
Warsaw’s other multi-hit player was Braxton Tennant, who went 2 for 3, while Tommy Hickerson, Blake Foreman and Kenton Cornell had the other hits for the team.
The senior division is comprised of 15- and 16-year-old players, and usually means the end of Little League for each player.
However, there is another level called Big League, which hasn’t been implemented at Warsaw, although Fitzgerald would like to try it.
“It’s kind of hard for kids at that age, because they have jobs and other commitments,” he said. “I would love to see this team get together again next year and play in the Big League. It may get harder with travel, because you have to go a lot farther. But we’ll see what happens.”
PORTAGE 6, WARSAW 5
P    300    210    0    –    6    8    5
W    210    200    0    –    5    8    5
Portage – Ryan Griffin (ND, 1-1/3IP, 3R, 1ER, 2H, 1K), Duncan Houpt (2, 1-2/3IP, 2R, 0ER, 2H, 1K, 1BB), Danny Calo (4, W, 3IP, 0R, 4H, 2K, 0BB), Cody Simmons (7, S, 1IP, 0R, 0H, 0K, 0BB) and Devin Fravel.
Warsaw – Blake Foreman (ND, 1IP, 3R, 2ER, 4H, 2K, 1BB), Marselo Rodriguez (2, L, 2-2/3IP, 2R, 1ER, 1H, 0K, 0BB, 2HB), Justin Kerschner (4, 3-1/3IP, 1R, 0ER, 3H, 2K, 1BB) and Bryce Sensibaugh.
2B – Tyler Joseph (P).