|Weary Cougs sweep tired ‘Cats in baseball DH|
|Sunday, May 04, 2014 8:00 PM|
BY JOHN PARENT
DELPHOS — It was the tail end of a string of consecutive games for both teams when Van Wert visited Wildcat Field to take on Delphos Jefferson on Saturday morning and afternoon. With the Cougars finishing up a run of six games in five days and the Wildcats ending a string of five in four days, neither side had much pitching left.
Van Wert got through the doubleheader using just three hurlers while Jefferson used a total of nine and the Cougars swept the pair, winning 6-5 and 16-1.
The Jeffcats gave the ball to little-used Jace Stockwell for game one and, though he hadn’t worked much on the mound this season, he kept the Cougar hitter off-balance for most of the afternoon.
Stockwell got off to a rough start, hitting Cougar second baseman Justice Tussing with the first pitch of the contest. Tussing moved to second on Nate Stoller’s single to left and both runners came home when Tyler Williams drove a ball to the right-center field fence for a triple.
Stockwell escaped further damage in the inning, however, getting Mason Carr to pop up to first and inducing a fly ball center to end the frame.
Van Wert had a chance to bust things open in the third as they loaded the bases with no one out, but could not score. Singles by Stoller and Williams sandwiched around a walk to Henry left the Cougars poised to knock Stockwell out of the game early but a soft liner to short provided the first out and a bit of good fortune closed out the inning.
Gavin Gardner hit a rocket back through the middle but his liner hit the up-slope of the mound and gave a perfect bounce to Jettinghoff as the second baseman broke toward the bag. Jettinghoff fielded the ball cleanly, stepped on the bag and completed the inning-ending double play.
The Jeffcats, meanwhile, could get very little going against Cougar southpaw Ryan Stoller.
Stoller, a sophomore, mowed through the first two hitters in the bottom of the first before issuing a 4-pitch walk to senior Ross Thompson. Thompson was left on base when Austin Jettinghoff lined out softly to third base.
After retiring Jordan Herron to start the second, Stoller proceeded to strike out each of the next four Jefferson hitters he faced, a string that was eventually broken up by Stockwell’s grounder to deep short that also provided Jefferson’s first hit of the game.
In the fourth, the Wildcats finally figured out the Van Wert starter.
Still clinging to the 2-0 advantage, Ryan Stoller pitched around Thompson to start the inning, walking him on four straight once again. This time, however, Jettinghoff followed with a blast to the deepest part of the ball park, splitting the right-center field gap for a run-scoring triple.
The left hander, perhaps rattled by the sudden turn of events, drilled Herron on the back leg, then walked Gage Mercer, loading the bases with still no one out. It looked like he might escape the jam when he fought back to fan Tyler Rice and pinch-hitter Gaige Rassman but centerfielder Josh Teman had other ideas, cashing in all three runs when his drive to center field cleared the head of Brant Henry and wound up as a 3-run triple.
“He’s been swinging the bat these last three or four games,” Jefferson head coach Doug Geary noted of Teman’s clutch hit. “He’s gained a little confidence. It doesn’t surprise me. It was a big hit, though; a clutch hit. That’s what we need.”
The Wildcats added another run in the fifth, capitalizing on a pair of walks and a wild pitch to provide a 3-run cushion.
Though Stockwell had pitched deeper than was expected, he finally ran out of steam in the Van Wert sixth, though not before retiring the first two batters of the inning. A soft single by Gardner broke a string of 10 sat down by Stockwell but the right-hander’s day came to a close when he hit Ryan Stoller to put to one with two out.
Thompson entered in relief but was greeted by a double from Sean Miller, which plated both of Stockwell’s runners and closed the gap to 5-4.
“That was his first start of the year,and he hadn’t gone above 52 (pitches),” said Geary of his decision to pull Stockwell. “He gave us a great effort. We went as far as we thought we could, pitch-count-wise, and trying to keep him ready for (today) to be able to play shortstop. We couldn’t ask any more than what he did.”
The Wildcats put the first two batter on in the sixth, drawing a walk and a hit by pitch, but Ryan Stoller battled back and got the next three in order to escape the inning. By the time the frame had ended, Stoller’s pitch count had reached 126 for the day.
“He wanted to go out and finish (the game) but there was no way he was going back out there (for the seventh),” Cougar coach Charlie Witten explained.
Left-hander Ryan Bullinger took the hill for Jefferson in the seventh, looking to protect a 1-run lead, and got Tussing to ground out to open the inning. After that, however, he put Nate Stoller on via a hit-by-pitch, then gave up a hard-hit ball to deep short that turned into a base hit when Henry beat Thompson’s long throw to first. A single to short right by Williams loaded the bags and spelled the end of the road for Bullinger, who was replaced on the mound by Jettinghoff.
Facing Mason Carr, Jettinghoff got the ground ball he was looking for and Thompson fed Stockwell for the second out; Stockwell’s relay to first, however, sailed past the bag, allowing Carr to reach and for a second run to cross the plate.
Nate Stoller entered to pitch in the bottom of the inning for the Cougars and retired the Wildcats in order. The comeback win snapped a 4-game Van Wert losing streak.
“I thought our sixth inning, with two runs, was just as important as our seventh inning,” Witten added. “That’s what got us to within striking distance. We had a good sixth and then finished the job in the seventh inning.”
In game two, Jefferson jumped out to an early lead against Ethan Williams. A walk and a stole base by Hunter Binkley started the rally with one out. After Binkley moved to third on a single by Thompson, the Wildcat shortstop was thrown out trying to steal, leaving a runner at third with two away. The inning should have ended there, but Jettinghoff’s pop-up on the infield got caught in a gust of wind and fell safely between three Cougar defenders, allowing the run to score.
Unfortunately for the Jeffcats, that was the last of the highlights for the second game.
Teman got the ball to start the game on the mound and worked around a pair of hits to pitch a scoreless first. Van Wert tacked on three more hits, including a triple by Ryan Stoller, in the second. The second of those hits was a pop-up by Ethan Williams that fell in as it carried away from the Jefferson defense in short left field.
Nate Stoller and Henry opened the third with a single and a double, respectively and Stoller came home with the go-ahead run on a ground out by Gardner. Carr’s two-out single to center brought Henry in to score before Teman could escape what would be his last inning on the mound.
Jefferson turned to Adam Rode in the fourth, trailing 3-1. He was greeted by Miller’s hard-hit single to left. Miller advanced to second on a bunt by Tussing before Nate Stoller hit a slow roller to first that was mis-played for an error. That opened the floodgates for the Cougars, who put each of the next four hitter on base, scoring four times before Ryan Stoller’s sacrifice fly knocked in the fifth run of the inning.
Rode’s day came to an end when Ethan Williams, the ninth man to bat in the inning, drove in another run with a single.
Herron was called upon to finish the inning and did so, getting Miller to pop out. Herron then retired the side in order in the fifth before losing command of the strike zone in the sixth. In that inning, Van Wert sent 12 guys to the plate and scored seven more runs against three different Jefferson hurlers.
“We we competitive in the game, it just got out of control,” Geary added of the lopsided second game. “We gave up six outs in the fourth inning and you can’t do that against quality teams. They took advantage of it.”
Meanwhile, Ethan Williams kept the Wildcats from making any noise at the plate.
“Ethan did a real good job for us,” Witten noted. “Fastball changeup, curve - all of them for strikes. He did a great job in that game.”
Williams allowed a walk but struck out the side in the second, then worked around a two-out error in the third. The Wildcats got singles by Bullinger and Rice after two were away in the fourth but failed to score, and a Tussing-to-Gardner double play ended a bases-loaded rally for the Wildcats in the fifth.
The Wildcats (12-9) are back in action today when Northwest Conference leader Crestview comes calling. It’s the first of another string of games for Jefferson and Geary says his team is ready for the challenge.
Van Wert (9-10) gets a much-needed day off today before facing Defiance on Tuesday in a Western Buckeye League tilt.
Game one scoring
Van Wert 200 002 2- 6 10 1
Jefferson 000 410 0- 5 3 1
Van Wert (ab-r-h-rbi)
Tussing 2b-ss 3-1-0-0, N. Stoller ss-p 3-2-2-0, Henry cf 3-1-1-0, T. Williams rf 4-0-3-2, Carr lf 4-0-0-1, Gardner 1b 4-1-2-0, R. Stoller p 3-1-1-0, x- Williamson 2b 0-0-0-0, Miller c 2-0-1-2, Jo. Braun 3b 3-0-0-0
Stockwell p-2b-rf 4-0-1-0, Binkley lf 4-0-0-0, Thompson ss-p 1-2-0-0, Jettinghoff 2b-ss-p 3-0-1-1, Herron 3b 3-0-0-1, x- Dudgeon pr 0-1-0-0, Mercer 1b 2-1-0-0, Rice dh 2-0-0-0, x- Bullinger rf-p 0-0-0-0, Fitch c 1-0-0-0, x- Rassman ph 1-0-0-0, Teman cf 3-0-1-3
HBP- Tussing (by Stockwell), N. Stoller (by Bullinger), R. Stoller (by Stockwell),Herron (by R. Stoller), Fitch (by R. Stoller). 2B- Miller. 3B- T. Williams, Teman, Jettinghoff.
Van Wert pitching
R. Stoller (W) 6.0 IP 3 H 5 R 5 ER 5 BB 7 K
N. Stoller (Sv) 1.0 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
Stockwell 4.2 IP 6 H 4 R 4 ER 1 BB 2 K
Thompson 0.1 IP 1 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 0 K
Bullinger (BS, L) 0.1 IP 2 H 2 R 1 ER 0 BB 0 K
Jettinghoff 0.2 IP 1 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 1 K
Game two scoring
Van Wert 012 607- 16 16 3
Jefferson 100 000- 1 6 1
Van Wert (ab-r-h-rbi)
Tussing 2b 3-0-0-0, x- Mills ph 0-1-0-1, N. Stoller ss 4-2-1-0, x- Fetzer ph 0-0-0-1, Henry lf 4-2-3-1, x- McCracken ph 1-0-1-1, T. Williams rf 4-2-2-1, x- Williamson ph 1-0-0-1, Gardner 1b 3-2-0-1, x- Ja. Braun ph 1-0-0-1, Carr dh 5-2-3-3, R. Stoller cf 2-2-2-1, E. Williams p 4-1-2-3, Miller c 3-1-2-0, x- Lisa ph 0-1-0-1
Stockwell dh 3-0-1-0, Binkley lf-3b-p-2b 2-1-1-0, Thompson ss 3-0-1-0, Jettinghoff 2b-c 3-0-2-1, Herron 3b-p 3-0-0-0, Rassman rf-lf 3-0-0-0, Bullinger cf-1b2-0-1-0, x- Stemen ph 1-0-0-0, Fitch c 0-0-0-0, x- Rice ph 1-0-1-0, x- Wallenhaupt pr-rf 1-0-0-0, Teman p-cf 2-0-0-0
2B- Henry, T. Williams.
Van Wert pitching
E. Williams (W) 6.0 IP 6 H 1 R 1 ER 2 BB 6 K
Teman (L) 3.0 IP 9 H 3 R 3 ER 0 BB 0 K
Rode 0.2 IP 5 H 6 R 3 ER 0 BB 0 K
Herron 1.1 IP 2 H 4 R 4 ER 2 BB 0 K
Binkley 0.0 IP 0 H 3 R 2 ER 3 BB 0 K
Mercer 1.0 IP 1 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 1 K
*Herron pitched to four batters in the sixth
**Binkley pitched to four batters in the sixth