In a game that never wanted to end, a wild pitch with the bases loaded scored Trent Armstrong in the bottom of the 10th inning as Wauseon knocked off visiting Swanton, 6-5, in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League baseball opener in blustery conditions Monday.
“Both teams played really well,” stated Wauseon coach Trent Thomas after the game. “There were some key situations where we made some great defensive plays, made some pitches. And the same thing for them. No team deserved to lose that game. I’ll just say that. That’s a really good Swanton team. It’s fortunate for us to get the win, but for them, I don’t think they deserved to lose.”
For Swanton coach Tim McCarthy, the Bulldogs’ shortcomings were easy to spot. They simply had too many missed opportunities offensively.
“We had a lot of chances to score runs. And so did they,” he said. “Both teams just kind of found a way to get out of it.”
Swanton tried to take the game in the top of the ninth inning where they broke free from a 3-3 tie.
Xavier Williams kick-started the Bulldog offense with a single, then he proceeded to make it to second and also third on a pair of wild pitches. With two outs after a pair of strikeouts, the Bulldogs got consecutive base on balls, loading the bases.
Zach Bloom came through with a bloop single to shallow left that scored two runs and gave the Dogs a 5-3 lead.
However, the Wauseon offense responded to Bloom’s RBIs against him in the bottom of the inning. Bloom, who had relieved Bulldog starter Roman Epley with no one out in the bottom of the fifth, went five innings while allowing three runs on eight hits with nine strikeouts.
Following one of those strikeouts, Brooks Gype reached first on an error for the Indians. CJ Moser kept the line moving with a base hit, then Carter Stump singled to left, and while it should of and did score one run, both Gype and Moser came home when the ball got by Swanton’s left fielder.
“The first guy didn’t get on, but then we got a base runner,” explained Thomas. “It’s always about getting a base runner, putting some pressure on (the defense). And then, again, CJ comes through with a good swing. And then Carter is swinging it really well. It’s good to have him back.”
With the score now tied at five, the Indians looked to end it as Joe Shema’s infield single put runners on the corners. McCarthy chose to intentionally walk Sean Brock and Bloom managed to strikeout the next two, ending the threat.
“To come through and get two (in the top of the ninth), even though on a bloop hit, you take it however you can get it in a game like that,” said McCarthy. “Then to have a couple defensive meltdowns in that inning, that stung.”
Swanton went down in order in their half of the 10th with Gype into pitch for Wauseon. Armstrong led off the bottom of the frame with a single, then Bloom hit Justus Chapa with a pitch, ending his day on the mound.
“Zach’s pitch count got up there,” said the Swanton coach. “I wanted to stay with him as long as possible. But we haven’t built him for that, he’s more of like our late innings guy. He pitched well enough to get the win today, just unfortunately it didn’t happen.”
Although Bulldog relief pitcher Jade Kruzel mustered up a pair of strikeouts, he had a couple balls in the dirt as well. The last was a wild pitch with the bases full that scored the winning run.
The Dogs opened up a 2-0 lead thanks to RBI doubles from Michael Lawniczak and Derek Floyd in the top of the first.
The Indians responded, but not until the home half of the second. An Eric Parker RBI double scored Stump for the first run, then a ground out from Connar Penrod scored Brock to knot the score at 2-2.
A one-out walk managed to score for Swanton in the top of the third with the help of a ground out and two wild pitches, giving them a 3-2 lead. However, the Indians scored on back-to-back walks, a sacrifice bunt, and a ground out in the bottom half of the inning to tie it once again.
Leading the Bulldog offense was Lawniczak who went 1 for 3 with an RBI and two walks and Williams who was 3 for 5 with a walk.
For the Indians, Stump finished 2 for 5 with a walk and two RBIs. He also got some action on the mound, pitching three innings and allowing two runs on two hits with five strikeouts.
“That’s the first time Carter’s pitched in a varsity game ever,” said Thomas. “He’s coming off two years of injury. It’s nice to have him back. And you know, just getting his footing underneath him. I thought he struggled, but he was in command when he needed to be. Just super proud of our guys. They played with a lot of heart tonight.”
Chapa started the game for the Indians and went six, allowing three runs on six hits with six punchouts. Gype would be the winning pitcher, while Bloom took the loss for Swanton.
Wauseon (2-3, 1-0 NWOAL) was back home Tuesday where they fell to Otsego in non-league play 12-4. Swanton (5-2, 0-1), on the other hand, bounced back and defeated Bowsher 5-1.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010