By Robb Hemmelgarn
ST. HENRY -- When St. Henry ACME coach Joe Wourms lifted Ryan Hartke early in the second inning, most in attendance were ready to leave the Redskins for dead.
Celina scored eight runs in the second inning and then held off a late St. Henry rally to post a 13-12 win.
After shutting down the Bulldogs in order in the first inning, Hartke hit a brick wall in the second frame. Celina loaded the bases with a pair of walks sandwiched around a base hit by Brandon Ley. Hartke then faced Dane Schwegman and issued a free pass on four straight pitches. He managed to pick up a strikeout, but walked in another run and yielded a two-run single to Matt Paulus.
The Bulldogs crossed home plate once more before Wourms inserted Kris Schlater to try to stop the bleeding. The junior allowed a two-run single to Darren Fleck, and by the time the smoke cleared, the Redskins stared at an 8-0 deficit.
"After that first inning, I really thought Ryan was going to be on his game tonight," commented Wourms. "He knocked them out in order and then the wheels really fell off. He'll be back though -- we'll give him another start before tournament and then hopefully things can start to roll in the right direction." The visitors scored another run in the third inning and two more in the top of the fourth to pull ahead 11-0, as most fans were expecting to head for the gates after another inning and a half. St. Henry picked up a pair of, what seemed to be meaningless, runs in their half of the fourth though, when Kyle Bruggeman and Jon Clune each crossed home plate.
Celina again had St. Henry on the ropes in the sixth inning when Dustin Woods had an RBI single giving the Bulldogs a 12-2 advantage.
"We had them down by 10 or more on a couple of occasions, but against a strong team like St. Henry, you have to be able to slam the door, and we weren't able to do that tonight," remarked Celina coach Ron Fortkamp. "I give them a lot of credit, they didn't give up and they were able to make it tight in the end."
Kyle Bruggeman led off the sixth inning with a double, igniting a Redskin explosion of six runs in the frame. After allowing a walk and two consecutive base hits, Celina starter, Joe Clouse, was taken off the mound in favor of Jordan Heuker. The Redskins managed a couple more runs to pull to within four at the end of the sixth.
Celina plated a single run in its last at-bat and was in command 13-8, expecting their advantage to be more than enough, but it almost wasn't enough.
With Ley taking over on the mound in hopes of deflating the Redskins, he issued a lead-off walk to Jay Woeste. A single and another base on balls juiced the bases for the home team, and with one out, Josh Werling connected for an RBI single. Mike Gast drew a walk to plate Tyler Post, cutting St. Henry's disadvantage to 13-10. With the bases loaded, Celina changed pitchers once again, this time giving the nod to Nick Gray.
Gray issued a walk to Bruggeman, and with one out, the Redskins were down by a pair of runs with the bases full. Jon Clune made solid contact and reached on the fielder's choice, while Josh Werling's run cut Celina's lead to 13-12. With two outs and the winning run at first base, Jason Rutschilling struck out, bringing an abrupt end to the Redskin's dramatic comeback.
"Those last couple of innings were an outstanding effort by our kids," said Wourms, whose Redskins fall to 7-9 on the season. "We played five innings of not very good baseball and two innings of marvelous baseball. We need to start putting things together and begin to play six or seven innings of marvelous baseball. If we can do that, I think we'll be fine."
The Redskins travel to New Bremen today to face the Cardinals, while Celina (5-10) will be in action at home against Lima Shawnee on Friday.