By KEVIN WANNEMACHER
HAVILAND – Jefferson got off to a slow start in Tuesday’s non-league baseball game at Wayne Trace as the Wildcats gave up five unearned runs in the bottom of the first.
However, Jefferson rallied to take a 6-5 lead entering the home half of the seventh only to see the host Raiders answer and walk off with a 7-6 victory.
After shutting down the Wildcats to open the game, Wayne Trace quickly took the lead in the bottom of the inning. Cade Harvey singled to center to start the rally before a Colby Speice single put runners at first and second. T.J. Blackmore reached on an error to load the bases before Jordan Herron retired cleanup hitter Aaron Stoller on a pop-up to shortstop Ross Thompson. Herron got Jacob Dingus to ground out, scoring Harvey, before hitting Raider starting pitcher Marcus McVay to again load the bases with two outs.
Centerfielder Caleb Mead followed with a double to plate both Speice and Blackmore in widening the lead to 3-0. Jared Sherry added a 2-run single that scored McVay and Mead for a 5-0 Raider advantage. Herron then escaped further damage as Thompson threw out Raider second baseman Zach Mansfield on a bang-bang play at first.
“We didn’t come out ready to play,” noted Jefferson head coach Doug Geary. “We gave them five outs in the first inning and we didn’t make adjustments like we needed to. We had some pitches that stayed up and they took advantage.”
After neither team threatened in the second or third, the Wildcats cut into the deficit in the fourth. Zach Ricker and Austin Jettinghoff drew walks to start the inning before a fly-out by Drew Kortokrax moved Ricker to third. Herron then reached on a Raider error that moved Jettinghoff to third and scored Ricker to make it 5-1. Zavier Buzard followed with a run-scoring double that plated Jettinghoff and got the Wildcats within 5-2 and end McVay’s night on the mound.
Herron scored on a wild pitch to pull Jefferson, which falls to 13-10, within 5-3 before Seth Wollenhaupt was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners. Speice, though, ended the rally by snagging a line drive up the middle off the bat of Gage Townsend-Schleeter and doubled up Wollenhaupt off of first.
Jefferson tied the game in the fifth. With one out, Thompson singled and Ricker walked before a Jettinghoff pop-up was the second out. Thompson then scored on a passed ball and Kortokrax followed with an RBI triple that knotted the game at 5-5.
“The guys did a good job of battling back and making plays there in the middle of the game,” Geary continued. “But we also left some runners on in key situations and didn’t take advantage of opportunities. Those are the things you want to be doing heading into tournament.”
The Wildcats took the lead in the sixth. Buzard led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on a bunt single by Wollenhaupt. Buzard then scored on a passed ball to put the red and white on top 7-6. With Wollenhaupt on third and no outs, Jefferson failed to take advantage. Speice retired the next three Wildcat hitters to keep the Raiders within 6-5.
Delphos again had a chance to widen the lead in the seventh, getting a Jettinghoff double with one out. Speice got Kortokrax to ground out to second before striking out Herron to keep it 6-5.
Wayne Trace then rallied in the seventh. Harvey led off with a single before a Speice single put runners at first and second. Blackmore followed with a run-scoring double to knot the game at 6-6. After Stoller was intentionally walked, Dingus then drew a game-ending walk to score Speice and give the Raiders a 7-6 win.
“You have to give them credit,” Geary concluded. “Their top of the order came up and did what they had to do.”
Speice got the win on the hill for the Raiders, pitching 3 1/3 innings in relief. The junior hurler allowed five hits and three runs while fanning three and walking one. Speice and Sherry each had two doubles and a single for Wayne Trace, which moves to 7-13, and Harvey added a pair of singles. Mead and Blackmore posted a double each.
Tyler Rice suffered the loss, giving up four hits, two runs and two walks with two strikeouts. Kortokrax also saw action on the hill, fanning three and allowing one hit in two innings of work. Herron surrendered five hits and five unearned runs along with a walk. Buzard recorded a single and a double with Kortokrax adding a triple and Jettinghoff chipping in a double. Thompson and Wollenhaupt also posted a single apiece.
Jefferson hosts Ada Thursday.