Boys Junior Varsity Baseball, Boys Varsity Baseball · Celebrating Baseball’s Magical 1st Title Run; 20 Years Later

    IHSAA 4A State Champions (June 26, 1999)
     Honored at Homecoming (Sept 27, 2019)

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how it all falls into place as it’s happening.  During post-season play, coaches and players simply concentrate on the next opponent, the next batter, the next pitch.  One crack of the bat, one snap of the glove can either end or extend your season.  Having been twenty years now since McCutcheon Baseball’s historic 1999 State Championship, those young men who donned the Cardinal Red and Gold have had the time to look back and appreciate how truly special it all was for them.  That perspective is evident when hearing the members of the team talk about those dramatic games in June of  ’99.  Those boys of summer have now grown into husbands, fathers, and upstanding professionals in their communities.  But when they all get together, like they did while being recognized at halftime of last Friday’s Homecoming game, you can tell that the luster and pride of winning that State Title has not diminished over the years.

In recognition of the 1999 team, two-time state champion Head Coach, Jake Burton, wrote a passage about his team’s magical postseason run:

The 1999 Mavericks Baseball team became the first team in McCutcheon school history to win a State Championship in any sport when they outlasted the Lawrence North Wildcats 7-6 for the title.  The Mavs were lead by 12 outstanding seniors who each contributed in their role to make this a true team championship.  The Mavs finished the regular season ranked 5th in the state with a 30-5 record and an Olympic Conference championship.  

The Mavs beat the Raiders for the third time in the season with an 8-7 come from behind victory for the sectional championship. Aaron Lower’s 2-run home run ignited the Mavs as they scored 4 in the 4th to take a 6-5 lead.  Tied at 7-7 in the top of the 7th Justin Jackson singled to score Kyle Robertson, and Pat Lowrey earned a save by retiring the Raiders in order in the bottom of the 7th to capture the Mavs 5th sectional title.

It was Nick McIntyre’s turn for heroics in the Regional as his grand slam in the 7th propelled the Mavericks to a 10-7 win over 7th ranked Huntington North.  Marc Rowe, Matt Kennedy, and McIntyre also supported the Mavs with triples while Lowrey earned his 9th win with a complete-game victory on the hill.

In the South Bend semi-state the 2nd ranked Penn Kingsmen allowed the Mavs to explode for 5 runs in the first inning as the Mavs went on to beat the defending State Champions 6-2.  Sophomore Jon Emerick and Lowrey each collected three hits and Paul Smith hit a massive 400 foot home run to move the Mavs into the semi-state championship against Highland. Lowrey picked up his 10th win of the season.

In the semi-state championship, Junior Steven Davis pitched the game of his career with a masterful 8-1 victory behind a 13 strikeout performance as he stretched his record to 7-0. Offensively, Brian Eaton delivered three hits with two doubles while Dave Gilbert and Lowrey each added a double as well.

In the state title game, the Mavericks erased a 4 run deficit in the 5th by scoring three runs on RBI doubles by Smith and McIntyre and an RBI single by Eaton to close the gap to a 6-5 Lawrence North lead.  In the 6th they took a 7-6 lead on Lowrey’s double to set up an exciting 7th inning.  After walking the bases loaded, Lowrey earned his 11th win of the season by striking out the last batter on three pitches to secure the Maverick’s first State Championship.  

Throughout the tournament, Jared Wright continued to make outstanding defensive plays at third base while second baseman Travis Neal and outfielder Erik Moore were supportive catalysts in their roles for the Mavericks.  

Although 12 seniors dominated the playing time during this championship season, we would be remiss if it wasn’t mentioned that while 10 seniors, which includes the DH, started for the 1999 State Championship team, the returning Mavs repeated in 2000 as the Olympic Conference champions!

Journal and Courier headlines – June 27, 1999

Where are they now?  What are some of their greatest memories of the State Title Run?  We reached out to the coaches and players from the ’99 team to find the answers to these questions, as well as recognize the families that have grown from this elite group of Mavericks over the past 20 years:

               ’99 4A State Champs and their families

Senior Catcher Nick McIntyre

Currently lives in Toledo, Ohio

Favorite Memory:  Our team winning the state championship was the big memory, but remembering all of the different players who had to step up in the tournament to make that possible is what I remember most.  Every guy on the team made a huge contribution at some point during the state championship run.

Family:  Wife Heather; Children Mia (8), Morgan (5), Mason (1)

Senior Pitcher/Right Fielder Marc Rowe

Currently lives in Downers Grove, Illinois

Favorite Memory:  Aside from winning state, beating Harrison in the sectional championship.

Family:  Wife Kim; Children Madison (7), Katelyn (4), Mallory (1)

Senior Second Baseman Matt Kennedy

Currently resides in Zephryhills, FL

Favorite Memory:  Winning state & setting the single-season record for doubles.

Family:  Children Karson (16), Emilyne (13), & Jolee (8)

Senior Center Fielder Dave Gilbert

Lives in Lafayette

Favorite Memory:  Being on base for Nick McIntyre’s grand slam to win the regional at Loeb Stadium.

Family:  Wife Jessica Strawsma-Gibert

Senior Second Baseman Travis Neal

Lives in West Lafayette

Favorite Memory:  Spending time with his teammates on and off the field.

Family:  Wife Kate; Children Wyatt, Harper, & Everett

Senior Pitcher/Third Baseman Pat Lowrey

Lives in Lafayette

Favorite Memory:  My favorite McCutcheon Baseball memory was the relationships that were formed.  In today’s era of travel baseball, growing up playing with the same group of kids all the way through is very rare.  To finish our careers together at Victory Field in the rain will forever be one of my favorite moments in baseball.

Family:  Wife Lauren; Sons Jeremy & Brady

Senior Pitcher/Shortstop Paul Smith

Lives in Lafayette

Favorite Memory:  It was a once in a lifetime experience where everything fell into place perfectly so picking out one moment is difficult because the whole season was an extraordinary experience.  But if I had to pick out one moment that a has stuck with me throughout the years, it was standing in the batter’s box at Loeb Stadium during the Regional Championship, top of the 7th, down by 3 runs, bases loaded, and Nick McIntyre hit an absolute bomb of a grand slam to right center and across the street that sent us to Semi-State.  To this day it’s the single most clutch thing I’ve ever witnessed anyone do in person.  I was so amped up after that I struck out on three ridiculously bad pitches I never would have swung at trying to jack one out myself but I didn’t care it was that spectacular of a moment to witness.

Family:  Wife Cassie; Daughter Amelia

Senior Outfielder Erik Moore

Lives in Lafayette

Favorite Memory:  The closeness of the team and the many nights spent together.

Family:  Wife Susan; Children Alli, Clayton, & Averi

Senior DH/Outfielder Justin Jackson

Lives in Chicago, Illinois

Favorite Memory:  Game-winning hit to win sectional against Harrison

Family: Wife Amy

Senior First Baseman/Catcher Brian Eaton

Lives in Lafayette

Favorite Memory:  Time spent with friends & the relationships built.

Family:  Wife Tasha; Children Ryker (10) & Rowan (7)

Junior Outfielder Brad Verhey

Resides in Frankfort, Indiana

Favorite Memory:  Stephen Davis’ curveball in the championship tournament

Family:  Wife Jamie; Sons Andy (14) & Matt (10)

Junior First Baseman AJ Mellady

Lives in Lafayette

Family:  Wife Amber; Daughter Adaline & Austin

Junior Outfielder Ryan Manual

Lives in West Lafayette

Favorite Memory:  – The camaraderie of the entire team was special to be apart of. I also thoroughly enjoyed being a spectator to the Paul Smith and Nick McIntyre Home Run show throughout the season. They both had a significant presence at the plate and the magnitude of some of their home runs can still be felt. 

Family:  Wife Jill; Children: Elizabeth 10, Zachary, 4, Isabelle 3

Junior Outfielder Morgan Asay

Resides in West Lafayette

Favorite Memory:  The entire journey, from start to finish and being a part of the first state championship in school history.

Family:  Wife Melissa; Children Wyatt, Avery, & Rowynn

Junior Pitcher Nick Williams

Lives in Lafayette

Favorite Memory: I always knew how special this group of young men were. Now seeing everyone now as adults: Coaches, administrators, lawyers, policemen, business owners… The list goes on! Most of us remain acquaintances and close friends.

Spouse: Mrs. Jordan Williams (married 4 years)

Junior Pitcher/Outfielder Steve Davis

Lives in Lafayette

Favorite Memory:  Storming the field after the final out and then riding on the fire truck back to the school in celebration.

Family:  Wife Lauren, Children daughter Arabell (5) and son CJ (2)

Junior First Baseman Noble Burkhead

Lives in Des Moines, Iowa

Favorite memory:  Having to “warm-up” on some “middle of nowhere” field that was very much in a run-down area of Indianapolis prior to the state championship game. The field was straight out of the movie the sandlot. Weeds were the grass of choice on the field. “Dirt” was just a bunch of ground-up rocks. It was quite the place to warm-up before playing at Victory Field. 

Family:  Wife Kim; Daughter Payton (11)

Sophomore Catcher Matt Dildine

Resides in Memphis, Tennessee

Favorite Memory:  Pitching pregame BP at a nearby ballpark with a makeshift pitching screen (aka metal trash dumpster)

Family:  Single, no children & loving life!

Sophomore First Baseman/DH Jon Emerick

Lives in Carmel, IN

Favorite Memory:  Jacking each other’s steez in the clubhouse

Family:  Wife Tara; Daughter Harper (1)

Freshman Shortstop Kyle Robertson

Lives in Fishers, IN

Favorite Memory:  There are many memories, I am not sure I have a favorite moment, traveling to South Bend, the come from behind victories, support from the school community, come to mind but probably the amount of fun and enjoyment I had during the tournament is what I remember most.

Family:  Wife Christa; Son Preston & Daughter Harlow

Senior Third Baseman Jarrad Wright

Senior Left Fielder Aaron Lower

Sophomore Infielder Matt Huckstep

Sophomore Pitcher/Third Baseman David Vallade

Athletic Trainer Alicia Clevenger

Head Coach Jake Burton

Lives in Lafayette

Family:  Wife Brenda; Children RJ (Toni), Mike (Kelli), Beth (Mike) Grandchildren: Bailey (17), Jackson (14), Tommi (13), Parker (11), Ella (9), CJ (8), Grace (7)

Favorite Memory:  There were so many on the field as well as off the field memories that year. But, looking back the Sectional Championship against Harrison was my favorite because we had lost the last three sectional championship games to the Raiders. In that game we fell behind 5-0; then staged a dramatic comeback to take a 6-5 lead in the 4th; then after they tied the score in the 6th, seeing an unsung hero Justin Jackson get the game-winning hit in the 7th; then watching our kids celebrate after beating the Raiders for the third time that season. That was probably my greatest memory … although getting that third out in the last inning of our 7-6 State Championship game with the bases loaded was something pretty special as it gave our McCutcheon community their first State Championship!

Assistant Coach Mark Whitlock

Lives in West Point, IN

Favorite Memory:  The final out of the championship game and being able to help Coach Burton win his first State Championship

Family: Wife Erin; Children Joseph (21), Caleb (19), Isaac (16), Elizabeth (14)

Assistant Coach Bob Hallas

Lives in Kennesaw, GA

Favorite Memory:  To be part of a special team that was not favored to win the championship. Seeing Coach Burton’s face in the dugout and his interaction with his immediate family after the final out was made looking relieved and proud that he finally reached the ultimate goal as a coach/husband/dad who has worked many years trying to achieve. Priceless!!!

Family:  Wife Kristy; Children Matt, Mitch, Marshall, Morgan, and Kendall

Assistant Coach Cory Marshall

Lives in West Lafayette, IN

Favorite Memory:  The 1999 baseball team was a group of guys who grew up playing baseball together and against each other, and that spirit continued through high school as they became one team who competed against each other every day in practice and then together when they took the field against other schools.  The state tournament run was a special four weeks where everyone played their part perfectly, from the starter to the timely contribution from a role player off the bench.  This was a TEAM effort.

Family Wife: Anne, Children: Meredith (15), Taggart (11)

Assistant Coach Jon Miner

Resides: Lafayette

Favorite Memory:  The final out of the State Championship Game

Family:  Wife Shelly, Son Colin (20) & Daughter Kendall (16)

’99 Team being honored at halftime with their families

Here is a link to the 1999 State Championship AP article and box score published in the IHSAA archives