|Rangers edge Jays in 5-inning tussle|
|Tuesday, April 29, 2014 8:13 PM|
By LARRY HEIING
NEW KNOXVILLE — St. John’s head baseball coach Ryan Warnecke knew going into the 2014 campaign that he would have his work cut out for him with a young squad and many unknowns.
The four Blue Jay seniors: Ben Wrasman, Kyle Pohlman, T.J. Hoersten and Andy May; provided his team experience at four positions but left question marks at the other five spots.
Freshmen players have stepped up and filled in at one of the most important spots, pitcher, nicely for Coach Warnecke. Josh Warnecke has gained important experience on the mound and has excelled at shortstop. Eric Vogt earned one of the two victories by the Blue Jays earlier this season with a complete-game shutout at Fort Jennings.
Fellow freshman pitcher Jacob Youngpeter combined with Warnecke to hold the Van Wert Cougars to only one run in a loss on Saturday.
Coach Warnecke may have found another starting pitcher in junior lefthander Austin Heiing. Heiing made his first appearance of the year in a mop-up role against Minster last week in a 21-4 blowout and made his first varsity start on Tuesday at Midwest Athletic Conference foe New Knoxville, limiting the Rangers to only five hits but the Jays fell short 3-1 in a rain-shortened game.
The Jays stranded one base-runner in the first inning after Heiing reached on a single to center and went to second on a wild pitch. Rangers’ starting pitcher Adam Howe retired the next two batters on fly outs to escape the Jays’ early threat.
When a pitcher walks the lead-off batter, that usually spells trouble; that’s exactly what happened when Heiing walked K.V. Mooney starting the home first. Mooney beat catcher Buddy Jackson’s strong throw to second base for the steal. Later, Mooney advanced to third on a wild pitch by Heiing. Howe ripped a hit over second base to plate the runner and the Rangers led 1-0. Heiing settled down to retire the next three batters with a strikeout, a pop out and groundout to J.R.Keirns at third base for the final out.
Jesse Ditto singled in the top of the next inning with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jorden Boone hustled down the line to beat the throw for an infield hit as the visitors had two on with only one out. Howe struck out the next two Jays to strand the pair with no damage done.
After Heiing retired the Rangers in order in the home second, Wrasman reached on an infield rocket to short to open the St. John’s third. Howe remained solid as he retired the next three batters in order to preserve the shutout.
Ben Menke led off the New Knoxville third inning with a hit and moved to second on a wild pitch. Howe walked and the Rangers loaded the bases with two outs as Shane Topp singled past third base. Wes Meyer went to the gap with a double to left-center field to drive in a pair to give the home team a 3-0 lead. Hunter McMurray popped out to Ditto at first base to end the inning.
The fourth inning was quiet on the field as both sides went down in order.
Off of the New Knoxville Ranger diamond, black storm clouds could be seen approaching with a few distant bolts of lightning.
With the threat of a early end of the game, the Blue Jays mounted a threat of their own in the top of the fifth inning. Youngpeter reached with a walk and May’s blooper fell in at left field and the Jays were making some noise with no outs. Wrasman moved Youngpeter to third base with a fielder’s choice for the out of May at second. Wrasman took off on an outside pitch to Heiing for a stolen base to move into scoring position. Heiing’s grounder went under the second baseman’s glove into center field to score Youngpeter. Pitcher Howe got this fourth and fifth strikeouts of the game to calm the St. John’s rally.
Then came the lightning and the umpires called a delay, hoping that the bad weather would blow over. As the teams waited in the dugouts, the skies opened up and heavy rains ended any chance of a Blue Jay comeback.
St. John’s out-hit New Knoxville 6-5 but left six runners on base and the Rangers stranded four.
Meyer lead New Knoxville with two runs batted in on what turned out to be his game-winning double. Howe walked only one runner in his five innings of pitching to earn the victory.
With the loss, St. John’s falls to 2-11 on the season and 0-3 in the MAC. The next game for the Jays with be another M.A.C. game on Friday night at home against the senior-laden St. Henry Redskins.
St. John’s (1)
Ben Wrasman cf 3-0-1-0, Austin Heiing p 3-0-2-1, Gage Seffernick ss 2-0-0-0, J.R.Keirns 2-0-0-0, Buddy Jackson c 2-0-0-0, Jesse Ditto 1b 2-0-1-0, Jorden Boone 2b 2-0-1-0, Jacob Youngpeter 1f 1-1-0-0, Andy May 2-0-1-0. Totals: 19-1-6-1.
New Knoxville (3)
K.V.Mooney cf 2-1-0-0, Adam Howe p 2-1-1-1, Nick Topp 3b 3-0-1-0, Shane Topps s 3-0-1-0, Wes Meyer 1b 2-0-1-2, Hunter McMurray c 2-0-0-0, Cody Shaw 1f 2-0-0-0, Logan Leffel 2b 2-0-0-0, Ben Menke 2-1-1-0. Totals: 20-3-5-3.
Score by Innings:
St. John’s 0-0-0-0-1 — 1
New Knoxville 1-0-2-0-0 — 3
LOB: St. John’s 6, New Knoxville 4. 2B: Meyer. SB: Heiing, Wrasman, Mooney, Topp.
IP H R ER BB SO
Heiing (L, 0-1) 5 5 3 3 2 3
Howe (W) 5 6 1 1 1 5
BB: Youngpeter, Mooney, Howe. WP: Heiing, Howe.