Fri May 18, 2012
By Matthew Lee
BLUFFTON - The Bluffton district got started today with a battle between No. 6 Wapakoneta (19-4) and No. 22 Tiffin Columbian (18-7).
Both teams came into the game with aspirations of moving to the district finals on Sunday. Tiffin Columbian started their ace, senior Nick Loura. The hard throwing right-hander has hit 90 on the radar gun this year.
Wapakoneta sent their ace in lefty Johnny Crawford. The junior southpaw sat consistently in the low to mid 80’s.
With the game scoreless in the bottom of the second inning, Wapak was able to time up Loura’s fastball. Sophomore Chandler Kaeck led off with a double to the gap. Kaeck was injured diving back to second base on an attempted pick-off and had to exit the game. The next batter, junior Brandon Schreiber, placed a well-executed bunt that he was able to leg out for a single. Junior Marshall Gerlach, with runners on the corners, left little doubt on a towering shot over the leftfield fence that landed 20ft. beyond the fence to make it 3-0.
The game stayed 3-0 until the bottom of the fifth when lead-off hitter, junior Alex Koch reached base on an error by Daniel Wood at 2nd base. After Loura struck out Josh Apple, which was his 7th punch out for the game, he allowed back to back singles off the bat of Crawford and junior Brandon Miller, which drove home Koch to put Wapak up 4-0.
Still going strong in the sixth, Crawford was almost perfect keeping the Tiffin hitters off-balanced. Senior Tyler Fuhrer led off the sixth with a base hit. This was one of two hits allowed by Crawford on the day. He also gave up a single in the third inning. After Fuhrer’s single, Carter Mullins bounced to second base to create a force out and Rohrbach followed with a strike out. After a walk issued to Logan Tracy, Crawford was able to get Wood to ground into another force at second to end the threat.
In the bottom of the sixth, with Loura still on the mound, Schrieber walked and Gerlach reached on a throwing error to put runners on first and second. Loura struck out Hines for the first out but then gave up a RBI single to junior Dom Campus to make it 5-0. That was Campus’ third hit of the day.
Loura proceeded to walk Koch to load the bases, which meant the end of the day for the hard throwing righty.
Wood came in to relieve and was promptly greeted with an RBI single off the bat of Apple to make the score 6-0. After a strike out of Crawford, Miller was hit with a pitch to force in another run. Junior AJ Etzkorn was inserted to pinch hit and with one swing, belted a bases loaded double that cleared the bases and won the game for Wapakoneta with a 10-0 win.
Crawford pitched the mercy ruled game going all six innings allowing the two singles. He struck out three and issued six walks. Wapak moves to the championship game Saturday to face Bucyrus, a 9-2 winner in the other semi-final game over Lima Shawnee.