|Bulldogs notch first PCL win of 2013|
|Wednesday, April 10, 2013 11:48 AM|
Last week when most teams opened their season, they found temperatures hovering around the freezing mark and winds gusting at nearly 20-25 mph.
One week later, the winds were still there but the mercury in the thermometer was showing nearly 75-80 degrees.
So much for the weather report and living in this wonderful state of Ohio.
Taking advantage of the warmer weather Tuesday night, the Ottoville Big Green and the Columbus Grove Bulldogs, under the veteran leadership of head coach Cory King, squared off in their annual Putnam County League baseball matchup.
The Bulldogs took advantage of some clutch 2-out hitting and an excellent pitching and defensive display on the evening in defeating the Big Green 7-2. For the Big Green, it was their opening PCL game of the year. The Bulldogs played their first PCL game last week, suffering a loss at the hands of the Leipsic Vikings.
King knew coming into this year he had a veteran group returning: “Offensive production should be the backbone of our 2013 season. With 10 returning lettermen, we have strong leadership and depth at most positions. What we need to work on is consistency each and every at-bat, both offensively and defensively. The pitching staff needs to throw strikes and allow the defense to make plays.”
Coach King should have been very pleased with his team’s performance on the evening, getting a 7-hit, 2-run pitching gem from junior Joshua Verhoff. That was along with a 9-hit outburst, highlighted by a sixth-inning 3-run homer from senior Trey Roney.
The Big Green actually jumped out to the early lead in the bottom of the second inning. Sophomore Brandon Boecker led off the inning with a solid base hit and was moved to second when fellow sophomore Joel Beining laid down a perfect bunt. Senior Cory Fischer laced a single to right field, plating Boecker with the first run of the game.
The Bulldogs came right back in the top of the third when after Big Green senior starting pitcher Derek Schimmoeller retired the first two batters he faced. Senior Blake Hoffman reached safely on an error by Big Green third basemAn Beining. Getting the third out of the inning has haunted the Big Green all year and this night was no different as Hoffman scored all the way from first after senior Brandon Benroth hit a deep double to center field, tying the game at 1-1. The Bulldogs were not finished as senior Matt Jay sent a pop-up to the middle of the infield that fell harmlessly between the pitcher’s mound and shortstop, allowing Benroth to score and give his team a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the third, the Big Green tied the game at 2-2. Schimmoeller led off the inning with a base hit to left field. Senior Jacob Turnwald sacrificed Schimmoeller to second and after a walk to junior Luke Schimmoeller, Boecker came though with a 2-out single, scoring Schimmoeller.
The Bulldogs took the lead back in the top of the fifth inning when three consecutive 1-out singles by Jay, Roney and Shafer allowed the visitors to score their third run of the game.
The bottom of the fifth was a very pivotal point in the game. The Big Green loaded the bases after a walk to Turnwald, senior Bryan Hohlbein reached base on an error by the Bulldog shortstop and Boecker was hit by a pitch. With Beining batting with the bases loaded, he checked his swing on a pitch from Verhoff that was appealed by the home plate umpire and ruled the third strike by his umpiring partner. Much to the dismay of Big Green head coach Tony Castronova and the Big Green faithful, the inning ended with the Bulldogs still leading 3-2.
In the sixth, the Big Green again got the first two outs of the inning; however, the home squad came up short on another decisive call on leadoff batter Hoffman when he was awarded first base on a walk, again much to the dislike of the Big Green coaching and fan base. Hoffman immediately scored on a double by Benroth and after an intentional walk to Jay, Roney sent a deep bomb to right-centerfield that cleared the fence for a 3-run home run, giving the Bulldogs a decisive 7-2 lead, which they were able to protect in notching their first PCL win on the year.
Castronova knew a break or a call here or there and the outcome could have been different: “We had our changes but just could not come up with that big 2-out hit to score some more runs. Derek pitched a good game; however, we struggled to finish off innings and some big defensive miscues cost us big-time tonight against a good Bulldog squad.” Verhoff got the win for the Bulldogs with a complete-game performance.
Schimmoeller picked up his first loss on the year but gave the Big Green everything he had, throwing 110 pitches for the game.
The Big Green (1-3, 0-1 PCL) are right back in action tonight as they host the Miller City Wildcats in a non-league game starting at 5 o’clock. The Bulldogs (5-1, 1-1 PCL) will travel to Continental for another PCL game at the same time.