Following an impressive 15-0 shutout on the road at Patrick Henry Thursday, Wauseon baseball returned home on Saturday to face Napoleon where they endured the dredded letdown game, falling to the Wildcats 11-0 in five innings.
The Indians were supposed to host Bryan on Friday for the lead in the NWOAL race, but a wet field forced that contest to be postponed.
However, against Napoleon, their pitchers’ struggle to command the strike zone and an excellent outing from Napoleon’s Lane Schnitz-Paxton in which he allowed just one hit, helped the Wildcats prevail.
The Cats struck first in the top of the first when with Dylan Unverferth on third, Alex Gerken’s slow roller through the infield scored him to make it 1-0. Unverferth began the game with a leadoff walk, which was one of two in the frame as Wauseon’s pitchers did not have good command all day.
“When you walk leadoff hitters and give them free bases, good teams will take advantage of it,” said Wauseon coach Trent Thomas. “They are too good to give early runs. Especially with Lane (Schnitz-Paxton) on. And he threw really well today.
“You are not gonna get many runs off him at all. When he’s pitching that way, when he has command of all his pitches, he is hard to hit.”
In fact, the Indians got their lone hit in the home half of the second inning when CJ Moser belted a two-out single. It put two men aboard as Marcel Barajas drew a base on balls earlier in the inning, but a strikeout ended the threat.
In the third, the Cats made it 3-0 as Evan Horner hit a sacrifice fly to score Aaron Bostelman with the bases full.
The Indians looked to answer in the home half as Barajas reached on a Napoleon error and then moved to second on a balk by Schnitz-Paxton. However, with two down, Brooks Gype’s fly ball to deep left was caught and the inning was over.
Wauseon switched from Carter Bzovi to Everett Bueter on the mound in the fifth, but the Cats took advantage of some mistakes by the sophomore.
The decision to make the switch was a result of Bzovi having thrown 92 pitches.
The inning started with a leadoff walk to Dylan Kirkendall and Derek Gerken’s single. A passed ball moved them into scoring position, and a single from a pinch-hitter made it 4-0.
Bostelman followed with a bunt single to score another run, and Unverferth’s RBI-single increased their advantage to 6-0. The Cats would tack on five more runs, highlighted by Alex Gerken’s two-run single and Derek Gerken’s two-run double to equal the final tally.
In that dreadful inning for the Indians, senior JJ Kauffman injured his foot. It was stepped on while he was attempting to make an out at first.
They also caught the injury bug against Patrick Henry as starting catcher Jac Flory pulled a hamstring.
“Next guy up that’s the way we look at it,” said Thomas of his squad’s recent injuries. “We’ve got to learn to play without them if they’re not gonna be here.”
But despite losing Flory, the Indians had no trouble with the Patriots.
Travis Smith went 3 for 4 with three RBIs, while Franklin Peralta (3 for 3), Kauffman (3 for 5), and Bzovi (2 for 3) each had multiple hits and a pair of RBIs for the Indians.
Brady Rupp pitched three of the five innings to get the win on the mound. Patrick Henry’s Axel Shanks took the loss.
Following a game at Liberty Center today, Wauseon will host Edon Tuesday and Swanton on Thursday.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010