Thursday, May 12th, 2011
By Randy Bruns
Parkway, Minster off to district tournament
Division IV Sectional Baseball at Minster
MINSTER - The two-seeded teams emerged victorious on Wednesday night in the Division IV baseball sectional finals at Minster's Hanover Street Park, but they took differing routes to gain their wins.
The Parkway Panthers survived a disastrous defensive effort thanks to some outstanding pitching in downing the Marion Local Flyers by a score of 9-5 in the opener. The nightcap saw the Minster Wildcats get similarly stellar pitching but the hosts also played flawless defense in holding off the New Knoxville Rangers by a 4-1 count.
The two winners now face Limaland squads in next Wednesday's district semifinals at Coldwater. In the 4:15 p.m. opener, Parkway (9-5) will take on the winner of Friday's Spencerville/Wayne Trace matchup, while Minster (15-8) will play Crestview in the nightcap that will begin around 6 p.m.
Marion Local finished up tournament play with a 13-6 record while New Knoxville bows out with a 9-8 mark.
Parkway 9, Marion Local 5
Parkway 9, Marion Local 5
A solid pitching effort is nearly always needed to advance in tournament play, but on Wednesday the Panthers needed some extra special mound work with the way they were playing defense.
Parkway committed seven errors in the game to give Marion plenty of extra baserunners, but Panthers' starting pitcher Dylan Baker and reliever Chris Brazle combined for 12 punchouts to keep the Flyers at bay.
The Panthers jumped out to a commanding lead by scoring three runs in each of the first two innings. Flyers' starter Ryan Mescher had trouble finding the strike zone, as he plunked three batters and walked two more in the first two frames to help the Panthers' cause.
In the first, a single and a pair of hit batsmen loaded the bases for the Panthers, and they managed to plate all three without a base hit. A fielder's choice by John Rollins scored the first run, and Riley Bransteter followed with a sacrifice fly to score the second. Then when the throw came back into the infield, it was misplayed and Baker raced around to scoring giving the Panthers a 3-0 advantage.
Marion answered in the top of the second when Danny Liette reached on an error and Kyle Mescher followed with his second homer in the past week to make the score 3-2.
Parkway took advantage of more free baserunners in the bottom of the inning when a pair of walks and another hit batter provided more opportunities. Mescher was lifted after one run had scored, and Flyers' reliever Greg Wolters promptly unleashed a wild pitch to score another run. Baker followed with a run-scoring fielder's choice to give the Panthers a commanding 6-2 lead.
The Panthers tacked on single runs in three of the next four innings to push their lead to 9-3, but the Flyers put together a final rally in the top of the seventh. Once again it was Parkway's errors that opened the door, but Brazle did his job by closing it. A pair of misplayed ground balls allowed the Flyers to score two runs and they managed to get the tying run to the plate, but Brazle struck out Wolters to end the game.
"We got runners on all night but we just made a lot of mistakes, whether it was chasing bad pitches or mistakes on the basepaths," said Marion's coach Bryan Gray. "Flat out, Parkway played better than us and they deserved to win that game."
Parkway's coach Mike Schumm was disappointed with his squad's defensive effort but was still relieved to get the win.
"Defensively we didn't play a very good baseball game and normally when you make that many mistakes you don't win," said Schumm. "On a hot day like this those (extra baserunners) are a killer, because (Baker) probably threw 30 extra pitches because we didn't make plays."
Minster 4, New Knoxville 1
Minster 4, New Knoxville 1
A pair of pitching aces squared off in this one, and the difference turned out to be that one got support from his defense while the other didn't.
Doug Huber tossed an absolute gem for the Wildcats and got airtight defense from the guys behind him in shutting down the Rangers. On the other end of the spectrum was New Knoxville's Addison Wolf, who only allowed four hits but was victimized by five errors.
The Rangers jumped out front in their first crack at bat when Jake Allen led off with a double and scored on Brian Bambauer's bloop single. As it turned out, the first inning would prove to be the Rangers' only scoring opportunity, as Huber allowed just one more runner to get past first base the rest of the game.
The Wildcats tied things up in their half of the first when Chase Paxson reached on a fielder's choice and went to second on a groundout. Craig Purpus then hit a bouncer to second, but the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag and Paxson alertly raced all the way home to tie the score at one apiece.
Minster went out in front to stay in its half of the fourth. With runners on first and second, Mitchell Poeppelman laid down a sacrifice bunt but ended up safe at first when the ball was mishandled. Huber then aided his own cause when he slapped a single that scored two runs to give his team a 3-1 advantage.
Once he had the two-run lead, Huber got even better on the mound. The junior hit one batter but didn't allow anyone else to reach base the rest of the way in cruising to the win.
"I think Huber was saving a little bit for the end," said New Knoxville's coach Ron Reineke. "He kind of reeled us in a little bit, I guess. I noticed that (his pitches) speeded up a little bit toward the end. He's a real nice pitcher and he's only going to get better next year."
Minster's coach Mike Wiss thought his team left a few runs on the basepaths but was happy to see Huber carry the load.
"From the time that Doug had that two-RBI single he kind of put it in cruise control a little bit," said Wiss. "He gave up two singles in the first and another in the second, and when you have an Addison Wolf on the other side you know that it's going to be one of those kind of games. Today Doug matched everything they had on the mound."
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