By Marc Tobias
COLDWATER -- Both Parkway and St. Henry overcame mid-inning deficits to post wins in the first round of ACME sectional baseball play on Wednesday.
The Panthers and Redskins both utilized big innings to spring the come-from-behind victories to help stay in the winners bracket.
Parkway scored seven of its 10 runs in the sixth inning to knock off Marion Local 10-6, while the Redskins scored seven in the fifth inning to defeat Fort Recovery 15-5 in six innings.
Parkway now moves on to face top-seeded Celina at 6 p.m. tonight while St. Henry will face second-seeded Coldwater in tonight's nightcap at 8:30 p.m.
Marion Local will return to the double elimination tournament Friday at 6 p.m. while Fort Recovery will play Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Parkway trailed 5-3 entering the pivotal sixth inning as Grant Ross just worked a scoreless top half for the Panthers on the mound. Meanwhile, the Flyers' Kyle Moeller went back out in the bottom half after throwing five solid innings to start the game.
Moeller and the Flyers' luck changed in the bottom of the sixth, though, as Parkway's bats came alive.
Marion Local gave the Panthers a little help as well, as Moeller walked and hit the first two batters of the inning before giving up consecutive singles to Ross and Dusty Ford.
Ford's single plated two runs to tie the game, and Ross came home on a Rikki Covarrubias suicide squeeze.
Jordan Heckler doubled home Ford and Ryan Berry reached on an intentional walk while Steve Hays reached on an error to plate two more runs. Matt High brought home the last run on an RBI triple during his second at-bat of the inning.
"All season long I've been talking about the light switch," said Parkway coach Mike Moorman. "This team can play like they did the first three innings, and then when they turned that light switch on like they did in the sixth inning, they can play with anybody in this tournament and throughout any tournament for all I'm concerned. But if we play like we did the first three innings we're a different team, but hopefully we're finding ourselves right now in tournament time."
Berry led the Panther batters with a 2-for-3 day with two runs scored and two RBI while High also went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Ross picked up the win in relief of Berry while Moeller suffered the loss for Marion Local.
Ross shut down the Flyers bats in his relief appearance, as he didn't allow a run or hit in the final three innings.
Joey Kemper had the best day at the plate for the Flyers as he went 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI.
Marion Local scored four first inning runs and held a 5-1 advantage after three innings of play.
"We came out and got a lead in the first couple innings, but in the game of baseball one big inning can hurt you and that's what happened tonight," said Marion Local coach Kurt Rammel. "The kids played well, the last inning we got the bases loaded to give us a chance to come back and tie the game but sometimes the ball doesn't roll your way."
Marion Local falls to 10-4 while Parkway improves to 16-8.
Fort Recovery led 5-4 entering the bottom half of the fifth inning, but St. Henry was able to collect seven hits, and along with the benefit of four Indians errors, the 'Skins chalked up seven runs to take an 11-5 lead and eventual 15-5 win.
Brady Schmitz, Matt Dippold and Rick Bergman started the inning with a triple, single and double to quickly tie the game at 5-5.
Alan Hartke drove home Dippold on a sacrifice fly, and Danny Koesters, Tyler Schmit, Andrew Huelsman and Ryan Ranly all came up with consecutive RBI singles for a 10-5 lead.
St. Henry scored its last run of the inning on an Indians error.
"That was a big inning for us, we told the guys going into the inning to sit on his fastball, because his curveball he didn't throw for many strikes throughout the game, and it was a really slow curveball so even if you were sitting fastball you'd be able to get back and drive that if he hung it too," said St. Henry coach Joe Wourms. "We hit the ball well after that the rest of the game, but it took us a little bit to get going and gave us a little scare, but when we got the sticks going it turned out the way it did."
Andrew Huelsman picked up the win after throwing 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief while Brad Fortkamp took the loss for the Indians after allowing nine runs on 11 hits.
Huelsman also came through at the plate, where he was 2-for-2 with three runs scored with one RBI and a stolen base.
Ranly and Schmitz each went 3-for-4 to combine for three runs scored and three RBI while Dippold and Puthoff were both 2-for-4 and combined for three runs scored and four RBI.
Schmit finished with a 2-for-2 day at the plate with two runs scored and two RBI.
Matt Hein and Fortkamp had the best days at the plate for the Indians as both went 2-for-3 with Fortkamp driving home three runs.
Wourms noted after the game that winning the first game in a double elimination tournament was crucial.
"With six teams in this tournament going through the losers bracket would be really tough," he said. "Then if you would get through the losers bracket you'd still have to beat the winner in the winners bracket twice, and that's a tough feat to accomplish. So winning the first one was big and we have our rival now in Coldwater. If we can't be ready for that one then I don't think we'll be ready to play for any of them, and I'd like to think that we're Coldwater's biggest rival as well so it should be a good ball game."
St. Henry improves to 9-11 while Fort Recovery falls to 0-13.