By Robb Hemmelgarn
ELIDA -- On Saturday at Ed Sandy Field in Elida, the St. Marys Roughriders got back to their winning ways with a 4-2 sectional tournament win over league-rival Lima Bath.
The Roughriders took advantage of three Wildcat errors and superb pitching from Nick Pfeffenberger to push their record to 15-3 on the season and will advance to play the Wapakoneta Redskins on May 17 in Elida.
"It was a nice win for our club today, and it's nice to get back on the winning side of the scoreboard," said Roughrider head coach Fred Hullinger. "Bath is a very sound and well-coached team, and I'm happy with the way we were able to take advantage of a few of their mistakes today in order to come out on top."
The Roughriders broke into the scoring column in the second inning as they connected against Bath starting pitcher, Josh Bailey, for three consecutive base hits.
With one out, Andy Langsdon and Ty Widman each singled, and a perfectly-executed bunt by Tim Danaher loaded the bases for lead-off batter Matt Helmstetter. Helmstetter made contact and reached base, however, Langsdon was thrown out at home plate. Centerfielder Tom Burke walked with the bases loaded, pushing Widman home for the 1-0 St. Marys lead. The Wildcats answered in their half of the second inning, as Kyle Mason reached base on a one-out walk and scored a short time later on a wild pitch from Nick Pfeffenberger. The Rough-riders took the lead for good the next inning, as they collected three hits and crossed home plate three times to take a 4-1 advantage.
Designated hitter Todd Graves reached first base on a walk and scooted to third base one batter later on a fielding error by the Bath second baseman. Catcher Deron Steinke plated Graves with a base hit, and both Steinke and Scott Vossler crossed home plate a short time later due to the second Wildcat error of the inning.
"The kids were very alert on the basepaths today and that's something I really like to see," explained Hullinger. "We did leave 10 guys on base during the game, but I give the Bath pitchers a lot of credit for that. That's not something we do very often, and I thought their pitchers did an outstanding job on the mound today."
Pfeffenberger gave up his first two hits of the game in the fifth and sixth innings, but struck out three batters in the sixth inning, leaving the Roughriders with one final opportunity to keep their opponent on the ropes.
The Wildcats' lead-off hitter of the seventh inning grounded out, but Pfeffenberger walked two straight, as the tying run stepped to the plate. Richie Herr flew out to leftfield, but a base hit by Aaron Ford loaded the bases as the winning run waited for Pfeffenberger's offering at home plate. Bobby Deppe smacked an RBI single, pulling the Wildcats to within two runs.
With the bases loaded and clean-up hitter Josh Bailey next up to bat, coach Hullinger called timeout in what looked to be the end of the day for Pfeffenberger. Following a brief conversation on the pitcher's mound, Pfeffenberger remained in the game, and swiftly struck Bailey out to end the contest.
"When I went out there for the second time, I was going to take Nick out. He told me that he wanted to face Bailey, and he threw some of the best stuff I have seen from him all season," said Hullinger. "He's a battler in there, and he pitched an outstanding game for us today."
In seven innings, Pfeffenberger gave up just four hits, struck out eight. At the plate for St. Marys, Tim Danaher led the way with a pair of singles, while four different Roughriders crossed home plate in the winning effort.