June 20, 2015

Penn Defense Delivers Fourth Baseball Crown
Penn pitcher Skylar Szynski proved tough to handle most of the evening as Penn claimed a 3-2 victory over Terre Haute North and the IHSAA Class 4A state championship at Victory Field.

It was the fourth baseball state championship and first in 14 years for the Kingsmen (29-6-1) who have never lost in a final contest. Their previous titles were won in 1994, 1998 (4A) and 2001 (4A).

Penn struck for two runs in the opening stanza as Brandon Stesiak scored from second base on a Terre Haute throwing error attempting to put out Nolan Metcalf. Nik Kavadas then followed with a double to left center scoring Metcalf for the early lead. The Kingsmen added a third run in the bottom of the third when Metcalf scored on a sac fly to center by Trevor Waite.

Szynski (10-1) went the distance allowing just three hits in the game and striking out six Patriots. He held Terre Haute North hitless through four innings until Nick Rush singled to lead off the fifth. DH Cody Maloon followed with a double to right field corner and then Brett Herndon sent a 2 RBI double to left center cutting the lead to 3-2. Terre Haute North threatened to score again but stranded two runners and couldn't muster anything more in the final two at-bats.

With the victory, Greg Dikos, the 28th year Penn coach, became the seventh coach with four or more state championships.

Terre Haute North and first year coach Fay Spetter were hoping to land the Patriots' second baseball crown and first since 1974 but settled for a third runner-up finish in school history and second straight (1983). Spetter had been a player on that 1974 team and had served as an assistant coach the last 21 seasons.

Attendance for Saturday's three games was 5,413. Coupled with Friday's 3A game of 2,904 that waited through two rain delays, it was a four-game total of 8,317.

Tim Lira of Penn earns Class 4A Mental Attitude Award
Following the game, members of the IHSAA Executive Committee announced Tim Lira of High School as the winner of this year’s L.V. Phillips Mental Attitude Award in Class 4A Baseball.

Tim is a two year varsity letter winner for the Kingsmen, and has been a First Team All Northern Indiana Conference selection each of the past two seasons. He was selected to the IHSCBA Jr. All-Star in 2014, and was named an Academic All-Star in baseball this year.

A member of the National Honors Society at Penn High School, Tim graduated with a 3.8 GPA. He also served as a member of the Student Council and was a Freshman Mentor. In addition to his school activities, Tim volunteered extensively with Michiana Relay for Life, the Michiana Downs Syndrome Association, and for the Indy Monumental Marathon.  

He is the son of Michael and Ann Lira of Granger and will attend Missouri University of Science and Technology where he'll study Nuclear Engineering.

The award is annually presented to an outstanding senior participant in each state championship game who has best demonstrated excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability in baseball. The award is named in honor of the late L.V. Phillips, who served as the second commissioner of the IHSAA from 1945-62.

The IHSAA Executive Committee presented a $1,000 scholarship to Penn High School in the name of Tim Lira.