By Robb Hemmelgarn
MINSTER -- The key ingredients to winning any baseball game are pretty simple. You need efficient pitching, timely hitting, solid base running, and obviously you need to cross the plate more times than your opponent.
When you have just nine players in uniform for the game, winning becomes a little trickier, while execution becomes all the more important.
For Minster ACME Coach Austin Kaylor, he was hoping to have enough offensive and defensive firepower in last night's game against Celina that he wouldn't have to worry about making a lot of defensive changes.
For four innings, his troops delivered as asked, but fateful fifth and sixth innings spelled doom for the Wildcats, as Celina pounded the cover off the ball in a 13-3 run-rule victory for the visitors.
"We knew Minster was a little thin tonight on numbers, but I knew they would battle because they had nine quality players in the lineup," explained Celina Assistant Coach Jason Tribolet. "I give them a lot of credit -- they fought the entire game, but we were able to get some big hits when we needed them." The Bulldogs got the scoring underway in the top of the third inning when Caleb Byrley led off with a bloop-single to left centerfield. Joe Roberts bunted down the third base line, and a Minster throwing error helped him reach base safely as Byrley scooted over to third. Roberts quickly stole second base, and with no outs, Kiel Hawk walked, loading the bases for Darren Fleck. Fleck walked, scoring Byrley and keeping the bases loaded for the visitors with no one out. Andy Waesch struck out, but a passed ball left room for Roberts to score, giving Celina the 2-0 lead which would turn out to be short-lived.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Wildcats knotted things up as Chris Stueve reached first base when he drew a two-out walk. A throwing error a short time later allowed Bob Inskeep to reach first base safely and Stueve to score. Inskeep tied things up one batter later as clean up hitter Wes Sherman, golfed the RBI over the first baseman's head.
"We made some great contact with the ball tonight," remarked Kaylor. "I was happy with how hard we hit the ball, but as the game wore on, Celina made some great plays and was able to keep us from getting those big hits we needed."
With their two-run advantage depleted, the Bulldogs picked up another run in the fourth inning when Eric Braun cranked his second of three triples on the night to centerfield. Braun was (Continued from page 1B)
plated a couple of batters later when Doug Vorhees sacrificed him home to give the Bulldogs a one-run lead. As was the case the previous inning, the Wildcats responded quickly in their half of the fourth frame as Jonathan Borges led off with a walk. He then stole second base and crossed home plate a short time later when Alex Monnin picked up a single, tying the battle at 3-3.
Through four innings, Wildcat starting pitcher Justin Spillers gave up just four scattered base hits, but the top of the fifth inning was when the wheels began to fall off for the Orange and Black. Fleck and Waesch each doubled, while Braun tripled and Cody Koesters, CalebByrley and Joe Roberts all singled. All but Byrley and Roberts scored, giving Celina the commanding 7-3 advantage.
"In the early going, we had some great pitching from Justin (Spillers), and we had solid defense behind him," said Kaylor. "Then after that, Justin started to get a little bit behind and when we made some changes, we had a lot of guys playing out of position and it was trouble for us."
Jonathan Borges shifted from first base to the pitcher's mound, but as it turned out, it would be too little, too late. Minster went down in order in the bottom of the fifth and the Bulldogs picked up in the sixth where they left off just an inning earlier. Borges hit a batter and issued two free passes before Bob Inskeep took over pitching duties to try to stop the bleeding. Inskeep didn't have much luck either as Waesch, Jordan Heuker, Koesters, Vorhees, Byrley, and Roberts all crossed the plate in the inning to push the Celina lead to ten runs at 13-3, a score that would become final as the Wildcats went down in four batters to close the bottom of the sixth inning, ending the contest.
"Tonight we did a great job of staying focused at the plate and finding a pitch that we could really drive," commented Tribolet. "The last couple of games we were not able to do that, so it is good to see things finally starting to come around at the plate. Eric (Braun) had a monster game tonight and it is nice to see him come out of his slump. Hopefully he can continue hitting well."
On the mound for the Bulldogs, who improve to 14-7 overall, Byrley pitched the complete game, giving up just four base hits and three walks. At the plate, Braun was three for four with three triples, two runs batted in, and two runs scored, while Byrley helped his cause by going three for three with two runs batted in and a pair of runs scored..
The Bulldogs are back in action tonight at New Bremen while Minster, who slips to 9-9 on the season, is scheduled to face the New Knoxville Rangers tonight in New Knoxville.