By Marc Tobias
COLDWATER -- Celina and Coldwater proved why they were chosen as the top two seeds in the ACME Mercer County baseball sectional held in Coldwater, as both squads cruised to first-round victories and will now meet in the final game of the winner's bracket Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
Both teams won by double-digit margins as the Bulldogs knocked off Parkway 13-1 while the Cavaliers notched an 11-0 victory over St. Henry.
St. Henry will now face Marion Local in the first game of the loser's bracket today at 6 p.m. while Parkway will take on Fort Recovery in the nightcap scheduled to start at roughly 8:30 p.m.
Game One Celina scored its 13 runs on 13 hits last night, but the Bulldogs also benefited mightily from a Parkway defense that struggled all night.
The Panthers committed nine errors, had two passed balls, threw two wild pitches and hit one batter to more then help Celina advance in the winner's bracket.
The back-breaking inning for Parkway came in the second when it committed five errors leading to four runs and a 6-0 Celina lead.
Celina had just one hit in the inning, but scored three unearned runs to take a commanding lead.
Meanwhile, Celina hurler Jordan Heckler silenced the Panther bats as he fired a complete game two-hitter with six strikeouts and two walks.
"Jordan this year has been a surprise, he hadn't pitched since his freshman year and we're very happy with his last two outings," said Celina assistant coach Jason Tribolet. "We went with him tonight because he did the same thing to them before, and he shut their bats down."
Tyler Brickley took the loss for Parkway, but the Panthers starter obviously didn't receive much defensive help as Parkway committed six errors when he was on the mound.
Celina added a run in the fourth, three in the fifth and three more in the seventh for the 13-run total.
"The last three games we've been scoring runs and the main reason is pitch selection," Tribolet said. "We're choosing the pitches that we can turn on and drive, and our bats have come alive because of choosing better pitches to hit."
Kyle Hawk led the hit parade with a 3-for-4 day with four runs scored and four RBI while Joe Roberts went 3-for-3 with four runs scored. Eric Braun and Doug Vorhees each added two hits and two RBI.
Celina improves to 16-7 on the season while Parkway falls to 16-9.
The second game of last night's doubleheader was a mirror image of the first game.
Coldwater's Matt Howell fired a complete game two-hitter to shut down the St. Henry bats much like Heuker did to Parkway. And like Parkway, the Redskins staked Coldwater a big early lead because of defensive miscues.
St. Henry's back-breaking inning was the second as was Parkway's a couple hours earlier. The Redskins also matched the Panthers by committing five errors in the second inning.
The Cavaliers' Ryan Gerlach had the biggest blow in the second inning as his two-run home run to leftfield helped put the Cavs ahead 6-0.
Gerlach later scored on an error for a 7-0 lead, and the Cavs cleanup hitter finished with a 2-for-2 night with three RBI and two runs scored.
Coldwater tacked on four runs in the top half of the fourth inning for an 11-0 lead to end the game after five innings of play.
Troy Siefring also had a good game at the plate as he went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
"Ryan Gerlach probably has the sweetest swing on our team and he has a short compact swing, and then Brian Brunswick hit that one in the gap and when he got to third I asked him if he needed some oxygen," said Coldwater coach Romie Schwieterman. "I said I need to look at my dictionary to see if Brunswick and stand-up triple are in the same dictionary, and he laughed, but Troy Siefring added a nice one as well when he knocked one out to the fence. So we had some nice swings tonight."
With Coldwater's defense playing errorless ball and Howell on top of his game it was a rough night at the plate for the 'Skins.
"When we play our 'A' game we can play with anybody, and tonight they brought their 'A+' game," Schwieterman said. "Every facet was tremendous, a great effort by everyone."
Coldwater improves to 14-6 on the year while St. Henry falls to 9-12.