By Robb Hemmelgarn
For the Celina Bulldogs, it was just one of those games.
Despite a stellar performance on the hill by pitcher Eric Braun, the Bulldogs snatched defeat from the jaws of victory last evening in Eastview Park as the Minster Wildcats bettered them by a final of 5-2.
The Bulldogs led 2-0 through the first five innings and held the Wildcats to just one hit during that span. However, it was the sixth and ultimately the seventh inning that doomed the Bulldogs, as five Minster hits and a throwing error led to five runs and the win.
The devastating turn of events did not surprise head coach Bruce Boley, but he was quick to give credit where it was due.
"It's been the story of our year to have things like this happen, but Minster played a heck of a game," said Boley. "They hung in there and didn't quit and got their runs when they needed them. Normally two runs around here aren't enough, but as the game went on we looked to be in good shape, it just didn't turn out that way." Following Aaron Heitbrink's single to start the game off, Braun and the Bulldogs picked up three quick outs and then turned things over to the offense. With two outs in the bottom of the opening frame, John Bonvillian singled and was plated one batter later with a shot over the left-centerfield fence by Braun, who gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 advantage.
For the next four innings, Braun was nearly perfect on the mound as he struck out four Wildcats. His only miscue to that point was hitting Andrew Baumer in the fifth inning.
On the other side, Minster's Allan Heitbrink was just as spectacular on the pitcher's mound, as the sophomore retired 12 consecutive batters to keep the Celina advantage at two runs.
"Braun pitched an absolutely outstanding game tonight, and from that aspect it is a shame we weren't able to win," commented Boley. "If Minster wouldn't have won though, they could have said the same concerning their pitcher. It was a great defensive pitching dual, and now we just have to come back out tomorrow and be ready to play."
The Wildcats started the sixth inning with a two-out single by junior Dan Mueller. Designated hitter Bob Inskeep quickly knocked his classmate home with a double and the Wildcats pulled to within a run at 2-1.
The Wildcats opened the seventh frame with pinch hitter Jonathan Borges grounding out. Just as the home team looked to be two outs away from their fifth win of the season, the Wildcats heated up.
Chris Stueve reached base on a throwing error, which was followed by a single from Andrew Baumer and then another by Nick Wyen. With the bases loaded, Zac Boeke ripped a triple to clear the bases while leaving Minster with a 4-2 lead. Boeke scored a few moments later on a base hit from Aaron Heitbrink to push the visitors in front, 5-2. T
"We haven't been hitting over .225 for the last three or four games, and if we want to win we can't have that," said Minster coach Mike Wiss. "Their pitcher was comfortable on the mound all night and he kept us off-balance for most of the game, so Zac's triple was very crucial for us just as we were finally starting to hit the ball. We need to use this win as something to build on. We have a big week with some league games and then tournament coming up as well, so we need to start playing better all around."
The Wildcats (10-5) and Bulldogs (4-13) are both back in action this evening as the Wildcats host the Versailles Tigers and the Bulldogs square off against the twice-beaten Elida Bulldogs.