By Robb Hemmelgarn
ST. HENRY -- Most coaches would agree that strong pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting are key ingredients to winning baseball games.
Last evening at the Wally Post Athletic Complex in St. Henry, the home-standing Redskins blended all three aspects to near perfection as they downed the Fort Recovery Indians 2-0 in their Midwest Athletic Conference battle.
"I give Fort Recovery and coach (Aaron) Vaughn a lot of credit for their play tonight," said St. Henry coach John Dorner. "They played some tremendous defense and their pitching was able to keep us at bay most of the evening."
Through the first three innings of action, the Redskins were able to put runners on base, however, they weren't able to convert those runners into anything in the scoring column. The Indians turned two double plays and catcher Greg Faller nailed Andrew Huelsman at second base as the junior attempted to steal the bag, preventing St. Henry from getting any runners into scoring position.
Despite strong defensive play, the visitors were stale at the plate, batting just nine players in the first three innings of action. Rightfielder Steve Trobridge smacked the first of his two hits in the third inning, but was picked off a short time later at second base by starting pitcher Andy Dues, ending the inning. "Steve is just a sophomore and I was really happy with the way he was able to connect tonight," said Indians coach Aaron Vaughn. "This has been one of his better hitting games, and I hope he continues to have good outings from this point on."
The Redskins dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth inning when senior Evan Bertke smacked a double off the left-centerfield wall. The Redskins third baseman crossed the plate two batters later when classmate Bryan Post connected for a double and the Redskins held the one-run lead going into the fifth inning.
"We struggled at the plate against Wehrkamp tonight," remarked Dorner. "We just weren't able to make real good contact all the time, so the hits we did pick up, we're fortunate that we were able to turn them into a couple of runs."
Trobridge picked up the Indians' final hit of the evening in the top of the fifth, and he advanced to second base when Bertke mishandled a line shot from designated hitter Chris Galdeen. With two runners on base, Dues dodged a bullet by striking out Brad Fortkamp to end the inning. The strikeout was one of nine the senior hurler collected on the evening.
Evan Bertke picked up his second hit of the game to ignite the St. Henry bats in the bottom of the sixth inning. He quickly advanced to second with a stolen base and scurried his way to third base on a wild pitch. The senior scored a short time later when Bryan Post knocked him in with an RBI groundout. The insurance run gave the home team a 2-0 lead, which it would hold on to as Fort Recovery was retired in order to close the game.
"I thought the kids played hard tonight and that's all I can ask," commented Vaughn. "St. Henry's the defending state champions. I know they lost a few guys from last season, but we were able to stay with them and that is a confidence booster for our kids."
The Redskins were led at the plate by Bertke and Post who each finished the game with two hits. On the mound, Dues pitched all seven innings, giving up two hits and a walk.
For Fort Recovery, Trobridge smacked their only two hits, while Nick Wehrkamp pitched six innings giving up seven hits, a walk and striking two Redskin batsmen.
St. Henry improved to 10-5 overall (2-0 in the MAC), and will travel to Lima on Thursday to face the Bath Wildcats. Fort Recovery witnessed its record slip to 4-8 overall, while its MAC mark is now even at 1-1. The Indians will host the Marion Local Flyers on Friday.