Wauseon pegged three first-inning runs against Delta at home on Tuesday and refused to look back, going on to defeat the Panthers 4-1 in NWOAL baseball.
“It’s a league win. And in a league right now where we need to have every win,” said Wauseon mentor Trent Thomas of the victory. “They are a solid baseball team. I am not pleased but we won.”
The Indians stranded a one-out infield single from Delta’s Jason Beverly in the away half of the first, then went to work in the bottom half.
Josh Whitcomb got the party started with a single to center field, and JJ Kauffman followed with a base on balls. After a fly out both runners moved up on a passed ball, scoring on a double to left-center by Brady Rupp.
One out later, CJ Moser’s single plated Rupp and he was thrown out while trying to get to second, making it 3-0 after one.
“I think our kid, he was a little bit excited there in the first inning,” said Delta coach Damon Mattimore of his pitcher Blake Gladieux. “He was elevated with a lot of his off-speed pitches. But really, you take that first inning out of it, we are 1-1 and we’re still playing baseball. He adjusted pretty good.”
Delta took advantage of a hit by pitch and sacrifice bunt to score a run in the top of the third.
Evan Vasquez was struck by a pitch to begin the frame, and he advanced to second on a Ron Vargyas bunt. Then, with two out, Beverly singled to bring home Vasquez which made it 3-1. Rupp, who pitched a complete game for Wauseon, did get out of the inning as he struck out the next hitter.
“They scrapped a run there. And that’s what teams have been doing against us, and it’s been hurting us because we make errors behind it and walk people behind it,” said Thomas. “So he did a good job of not letting it turn into a bigger inning than it was. He was very efficient.”
The Indians would get that run back in the next half inning.
Kauffman led off the inning with a single. Carter Bzovi reached on a fielder’s choice as the Panthers got Kauffman out at second, and Rupp blooped a single to put runners on the corners. Brady Kinnersley grounded out but it was good enough to score Bzovi to push Wauseon’s lead to 4-1.
Wauseon threatened again in the bottom of the fourth by putting runners on the corners with two out.
Franklin Peralta blooped one to left to begin the inning, and after Brooks Gype’s sacrifice bunt and a fly out, Whitcomb reached on an infield single. However, Gladieux got Kauffman to line out to center to end the threat.
“We didn’t have great at bats after that first inning,” stated Thomas. “I think we got ourselves out a lot. And (Gladieux) did a good job of mixing speeds.”
A key play happened in the Panthers’ at bat in the fifth, and it started with a double to center from Vargyas. After Rupp got the next batter to line out, Delta chose to have Vargyas steal third, but the throw from Wauseon’s catcher, Moser, was on time for the second out. Rupp then got Beverly down on strikes to end it.
“That was a huge play, because if they get a run there, you know it is 4-2,” said Thomas of Moser’s throw. “If you’re (down) 4-2, you can scrap two runs in the next two innings.”
Rupp later stranded a two-out double from Delta’s Marc Callahan in the sixth and got the Panthers to go down in order in the seventh. He got the win after allowing a run on five hits, striking out 11 and walking only one.
Gladieux allowed 10 Wauseon hits but just four runs while striking out a pair.
Beverly paced Delta by going two for three with an RBI. Rupp was two for three with a pair of RBIs for the Indians, and Peralta and Whitcomb added two hits apiece.
Tournament play begins Saturday, when Wauseon welcomes Lima Shawnee for a sectional semifinal match-up in Division II. Delta hosts Otsego in a sectional semifinal game in Division III.
“They had a chance to take a home game also but they chose to come to Delta and play us,” said Mattimore on facing Otsego. “We played them a week back and beat them 7-0. So, hopefully their choice was wrong there.”
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010