By Gary R. Rasberry
After meeting with his team following Tuesday's game, Celina coach Bruce Boley summed up the meeting with Marion Local like this: "As well as we played last night, tonight was the exact opposite," said the veteran Bulldogs coach.
Troy Luebke had a lot to do with that statement.
The Flyers' junior opened his team's season in style, throwing a no-hitter and contributing big to the offense as Marion run-ruled Celina 11-1 in five innings at a damp and chilly Eastview Park. While the Flyers go to 1-0 on the season, the Bulldogs even their mark at 1-1.
Just 24 hours after belting 12 hits and getting solid pitching in a win over Fort Recovery, the Bulldogs went in the other direction. Only twice did Celina knock the ball into the outfield on Tuesday and Luebke enticed Celina into five groundouts and three popouts. Luebke also struck out five along the way.
"Real nice to have Troy up on the mound and throwing like he does," said Marion first-year coach Greg Bruns. "He has a solid defense behind him. It helps him get a lot of confidence. Give Celina credit. They hit the ball hard a few times. Defensively we were able to get the glove on it. Celina's a quality program." The lone run Luebke gave up came on his only showing of wildness. After walking John Bonvillian with one out in the first, Luebke uncorked back-to-back wild pitches to put the sophomore at third base. Eric Braun grounded out to second base, allowing Bonvillian to score.
From there, Luebke was in control, allowing just one more walk -- then picking off Bill Helmlinger a couple of pitches later -- and seeing one error put another runner on.
The defense played solid for the rest of the game. Freshman Marcus Moeller, stepped up with several big defensive plays on hard Celina shots to keep Celina from getting any other runners on the basepaths.
"Our regular starting shortstop is out for the year," said Bruns. "It's nice to have a freshman step up and show that kind of backbone tonight."
After a scoreless first, Marion got to Bulldog starter Joe Clouse in the second. Kurt Heitkamp led off with a single and Chris Wenning followed with a double to put runners on second and third. With two outs, Mitch Thobe then stepped up and grounded a ball in the gap between first and second. Eric Loughridge made the play but was late on the throw to a covering Clouse, allowing Kurt Heitkamp to score. Marc Otte followed with a double to bring home Wenning and Thobe. Luebke followed with a triple down the right side to make it 4-0 for the Flyers.
The Flyers got three more in the third and chased Clouse in the fourth after giving up a single to Luebke and a walk to Curtis Moeller. Kyle Pfeffenberger gave up a double to Jake Heitkamp, clearing the bases and then Kurt Heitkamp brought home Jake with a double. Wenning reached on an error before Pfeffenberger retired the next three batters to get out of the inning.
The Flyers collected 14 hits, five being doubles. Luebke and Kurt Heitkamp went 3-for-4 with an RBI each. Wenning had two doubles while Thobe had two hits and two RBI.
"Real encouraging to watch the guys hit the ball like that," said Bruns. "They put the bat on the ball often, good things will happen."
"You have to tip your hat to Marion for putting the ball into play," said Boley. "They hit a lot of line drives. I don't know how many extra-base hits they had (five), but they didn't have many cheap ones. They did the job to win the game. They beat us in all facets -- pitching, defense, offense, the whole bit. You just have to congratulate them."
Celina stays at home on Thursday to host Parkway while Marion hosts Fort Recovery in a 4:30 game.