HUNTINGTON – The South Side baseball team knew it wasn't supposed to be where it was on Monday when it played Homestead in the Class 4A Sectional Championship game at Huntington University on Monday.
But the Archers looked like they belonged, winning their first sectional title since 2012 in a 6-4 win over the Spartans.
"We were expected to lose in the first round (Wednesday) against Wayne and then nobody thought we were going to win that," South Side first baseman Thomas Romero said. "Then we faced the No. 4 team in the state, Huntington North. We won that, kept on battling and we just won this against Homestead. I'm proud of my teammates.
"We didn't have any pressure on us. The pressure was on our opponents and that's it. It's just the beginning."
South Side coach Sheldon Van Pelt kicked off his coaching career with the Archers with the program's first sectional title since 2012.
A second sectional title seems only fitting to add in Van Pelt's final year at the head of the program.
"My first year coming in, in 2012, we did the same thing, won the sectional," he said. "Being now that this is my last season, we're doing it again. I knew this team was pretty good. I was hoping this team would come together after the Northrop game (a 9-8 win on May 17), we jelled and came together and started hitting the ball.
"It's really exciting, especially in my last season. I want to go out on top and this is a good start. We're not done, yet."
The Archers finished third in the SAC after being ranked fifth in the preseason.
"Just being confident (has been the biggest key)," Van Pelt said. "The thing is, we're not supposed to be here.
"After the Northrop game, we just dialed in, started hitting the ball and all the pieces just fell together."
South Side scored the go-ahead and insurance runs in the fourth inning after Xzavier Rogers scored on a Romero single to centerfield.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Homestead made a pitching change, bringing in reliever Zac Bradtmiller for starter Justin Miller.
Bradtmiller hit his first batter, Cole Hapner, scoring Romero and walked Jacob Sanchez to score Javarious Jones to give South Side a 5-2 lead.
The Spartans mounted a comeback in the seventh, scoring twice, but came up short.
"I knew they were a good hitting team," Archers starter Lee Barrera, "and I thought I'd keep them off balance and when they were off balance, I hit them inside with a fastball and that's what I did."
Barrera pitched a complete game, giving up four runs, three earned, on six hits, walking two and striking out five.
Miller took the loss for the Spartans with 3 2/3 innings of work where he walked seven and struck out six. Bradtmiller struck out five in 2 1/3 inning of relief.
The Archers will face Carroll on Saturday at the Lafeyette Jefferson regional.