PAULDING — High school regular season baseball doesn’t get much more dramatic than Paulding’s 6-4 win over Lincolnview Tuesday. It was the NWC finale between two 7-0 teams, and it wasn’t decided until a seventh inning bases-loaded long fly ball — and the league championship — nestled into the glove of Panther centerfielder Evan Edwards.

Paulding (13-7, 8-0) won its 15th NWC championship, second only to Crestview’s 23. Third-ranked (Division IV) Lincolnview (20-3, 7-1) has two titles, both shared — 1990 and 2018.

Top-seeded Lincolnview now hosts a Division IV sectional final on Thursday against the winner of 9th-seeded LCC and 11th-seeded Waynesfield-Goshen. On Friday, Division III 3rd-seed Paulding hosts the winner of 5th-seeded Bath and 9th-seeded Ottawa-Glandorf.

“Obviously, this was a goal to win the Northwest Conference championship,” said Lincolnview coach Eric Fishpaw. “Today we came up a little short, but we gotta have a short-term memory and move on. We’ll have a to focus in practice tomorrow and get back on Thursday against the winner of Waynesfield-Goshen and LCC.”

The Lancers started off with a bang in the top of the first. Shortstop Collin Overholt reached on an error, and third-baseman Jaden Youtsey promptly deposited the ball on top of the batting cage beyond the fence in left center for a 2-0 lead.

Paulding, however, answered in the bottom of the first with three runs off of Lincolnview starter Gavin Carter. With one out, the Panthers loaded the bases on a walks to shortstop Carson Shull and third baseman Jaret Miller followed by a plunked batter, centerfielder Evan Edwards. Shull scored on a wild pitch and the other two runners moved up to third and second. Paulding pitcher Westen Phlipot dribbled a ball in front of the plate and was thrown out at first, but Miller scored the tying run, and Edwards also came in when the throw home went awry — 3-2, Paulding, after one.

Paulding stretched the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the second. With one out, leftfielder Andrew Adams walked, and catcher Hunter Kauser doubled to left putting runners at third and second. Overholt and Carter then traded positions. Shull’s suicide squeeze bunt went only about three feet, so Adams was tagged out at the plate, putting runners on the corners. Shull took second on a wild pitch, and both Kauser and Shull then scored on a rip to left center by Miller.

Lincolnview got within 5-3 in the top of the fourth. With one out, sub rightfielder Cole Binkley singled to right, and Overholt walked. Youtsey’s single to left plated Binkley.

There was, however, some major suspense in that inning. Binkley’s single was the 73rd pitch by Paulding’s ace, Phlipot. Once a pitcher throws his 76th pitch, he has to rest for three days, which meant that Phlipot would be unable to pitch in the Panthers’ tournament game on Friday. To leave him in or not leave him in was the big decision of Paulding coach Travis McGarvey.

“I got the three seniors (Phlipot, Miller, and Shull) together on the mound, said Coach McGarvey. I said, ‘What do you wanna do? Do you want him to stay in and go for this win or take him out and wait until Friday?’ It was unanimous. The three seniors said, ‘We want this game.’ I said, ‘All right — let’s go.’”

Lincolnview heightened the suspense even more in the top of the sixth, closing the gap to 5-4 on a Youtsey single, stolen base, and RBI single by first baseman Ethan Kemler. Kemler’s hit was Phlipot’s 125th pitch, the maximum, so first baseman Kolson Egnor then took over on the bump.

However, after Overholt had been totally dominant, Paulding scraped out an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Second baseman Blake McGarvey led off with a walk, and was bunted to second by Egnor. Rightfielder Sam Woods grounded out, moving McGarvey to third, from where he scored on a long single to right center by sub first baseman Payton Beckman — 6-4, Paulding, after six.

The suspense mounted again in the top of the seventh. The Lancers filled the bases with two outs on a walk to Binkley, single by Overholt, and walk to Youtsey. DH Creed Jessee was Lincolnview’s last hope, and he blasted a drive to deep center, but Edwards was camped right there for the final out.

The offensive numbers for the two teams were not at all similar. Lincolnview out-hit Paulding 9-5 but left a whopping 14 runners on base, while the Panthers stranded only four.

The Lancers had multiple hits from Youtsey (3 for 4, including a homer, two runs scored, three RBI) and Kemler (2 for 4, one RBI). Paulding had nobody with more than one hit.

Phlipot, a crafty-but-not-overpowering lefthander, was a master at escaping jams and he picked up the win with 5 2/3 innings of work, yielding four runs, three earned, on seven hits, striking out eight and walking four. Egnor got the save with 1 1/3 innings, no runs, two hits, one strikeout, two walks.

Carter, having a rare off day, took the loss with 1 1/3 innings pitched, five runs, all earned, three hits, one strikeout, two walks, one hit batter. Overholt turned in some impressive numbers in relief — 5 2/3 innings, one run, earned, two hits, eight strikeouts, one walk — and 71 percent (46 of 65) strikes.

“We have a deep pitching staff,” said Fishpaw. “We have four or five guys we can run out there and trust. Sometimes you don’t have your best stuff, and today he (Carter) didn’t have his best stuff, but that’s a credit to a good-hitting Paulding lineup.”

Lincolnview (ab-r-h-rbi)

Collin Overholt ss/p 3-1-1-0, Jaden Youtsey 3b 4-2-3-3, Creed Jessee dh 4-0-0-0, Reece Farmer c 0-0-0-0, Ethan Kemler 1b 4-0-2-1, Brayden Evans cf 3-0-1-0, Gavin Carter p/ss 4-0-0-0, Landon Price lf 4-0-0-0, Braxton Fox 2b 3-0-1-0, Sam Myers pr 0-0-0-0, Clayton Leeth pr 0-0-0-0, Thad Walker rf 1-0-0-0, Cole Binkley rf 3-1-1-0. Totals 33-4-9-4.

Paulding (ab-r-h-rbi)

Hunter Kauser c 4-1-1-0, Carson Shull ss 2-2-0-0, Jaret Miller 3b 2-1-1-2, Evan Edwards cf 2-1-1-0, Westen Phlipot p/lf 3-0-0-1, Blake McGarvey 2b 2-1-1-0, Kolson Egnor 1b/p 2-0-0-0, Sam Woods rf 3-0-0-0, Andrew Adams lf 1-0-0-0, Payton Beckman 1b 1-0-1-1. Totals 22-6-5-4.

Errors: Miller 2, Egnor, Kemler. HBP: Edwards (by Carter). SB: Youtsey. Sac Bunt: Egnor. Doubles: Fox, Kauser. Home Run: Youtsey. LOB: LV 14, P 4.

Lincolnview 200 101 0 - 4 9 1

Paulding 320 001 x - 6 5 3

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so)

Carter (L) 1.1-3-5-5-2-1.

Overholt 5.2-2-1-1-1-8.

Phlipot (W) 5.2-7-4-3-4-8.

Egnor (S) 1.1-2-0-0-2-1.

Wild Pitches: Carter, Overholt.

Pitches/Strikes: Carter 36/17, Overholt 65/46, Phlipot 125/75, Egnor 29/18.