By Gary R. Rasberry
NEW BREMEN -- Another week, another pitchers' duel for the Coldwater Cavaliers.
Tuesday, Cavs coach Brian Harlamert sent ace Steve Wenning out for his ninth win of the spring against a New Bremen team that has been playing strong all season. Alex Leugers, whose 1-3 record coming in does not show the fact that his earned run average was below 2.50 and his WHIP was a respectable 1.26, went to the mound for the Cardinals.
Both pitchers had strong games, but Coldwater used some clutch hitting to come away with the 2-0 win at New Bremen. The Cavaliers improve to 5-0 in the Midwest Athletic Conference and 15-5 overall while the loss puts the Cardinals at 13-7 on the season and 3-2 in the MAC.
Wenning got the win without having his typical dominating stuff. After allowing just 10 walks this season, Wenning walked six on Tuesday, but came back strong to get strikeouts to end the inning twice and received solid defense behind him.
"We'll take that," said Harlamert. "He was around the plate. He just didn't get the consistent called strike that we usually get. Usually, he's around 85 pitches thrown and today he's at 125. Maybe a little rust, he's been off for a whole week (due to rain outs and rotation). He's fine. He'll bounce back for Saturday (for Coldwater's sectional game with St. John's)." Leugers had almost as good a day against the Cavaliers. Leugers walked four and struck out four while giving up eight hits, with only one of those hits going for extra bases. Coldwater had runners on first and second two times in the first three innings but Leugers surrendered just one run out of those situations and got some big defensive plays.
"I feel bad for the kid, he's an all-league pitcher," said New Bremen coach Justin Firks, himself a former Coldwater pitching standout. "Right now he's 1-4. He gets beat by St. Marys, Coldwater and Indian Lake. He's battled tough teams. He gives up two runs and battled for strikes. He pretty much shut down Coldwater most of the game."
Coldwater broke a scoreless tie with a run in the third when Chad Geier doubled with one out. After Dusty Ahrens grounded out, Trent Gerlach came up and singled Geier home.
New Bremen had ample chances to score and had runners on second and third in the second and sixth innings but on both occasions, Wenning was able to get out of trouble. The first time with a strikeout of Tyler Ranly and the second with a pop fly to Tyler Schwieterman at first base.
"I thought our guys did a good job of staying patient and putting the ball into play," said Firks. "We had guys in position, we just couldn't get the hit with a man on second."
Both Coldwater and New Bremen left eight runners stranded.
Coldwater scored its second and final run in the top of the seventh. Craig Wellman singled to lead off the inning and Leugers looked to have things in control by getting Geier to fly out and Ahrens to ground out. However, Gerlach was intentionally walked to bring up Tyler Schwieterman, who hit a slow roller and just beat the throw to first allowing Wellman to score on the play.
Harlamert was complimentary of the job his fellow alum Firks has done this season with the Cardinals.
"Justin has them playing pretty well," said Harlamert. "They knew the situation today with the wind (which blew in strong from the outfield). ... They played the wind and played the ground balls. Leugers is a very nice pitcher."
Geier and Gerlach each had two hits for Coldwater.
The Cavaliers return to action Thursday at Wapakoneta while New Bremen hosts Minster on Friday.