Wauseon had some quality at bats against Bryan ace Breven Deckrosh in the bottom of the first inning. The big blow came from Deckrosh’s counterpart in Indians’ starter Connar Penrod ,who cleared the bases with a double for an early 4-0 lead. The rest of the way, Wauseon was led by its pitching and defense as they held off the Golden Bears 4-3 in a Division II baseball sectional final Friday in Wauseon.
“Tip your cap to them (Bryan) for playing hard,” said Wauseon skipper Trent Thomas after the game. “They hadn’t had the most successful year, but Coach Inselmann does a great job getting them ready. I think they had a good year, but in Bryan terms probably not. We just kept battling; we threw a guy out at the plate from center. We made a diving play on one that probably would have scored a run. Connar just was a bulldog tonight. I think the heat affected him that one inning; he walked a few guys, that’s not like him. But our guys just compete and I couldn’t be more proud. We’ve got 12 seniors and not all of them play all the time. They don’t want to lose, and they are in it for each other.”
Jude Armstrong reached on a infield single to begin the game, he moved to second on Sam Krasula’s bunt, then third on a passed ball. Eli Delgado would walk to put runners at the corners, then Kolton DeGroff’s ground out plated Armstrong to make it 1-0.
The Indians loaded the bases as Clay Stump walked and Easton Delgado was hit by a pitch, prior to Penrod’s three-run double.
“We’ve done that a few times, jumped on people,” Thomas said of gaining the early advantage. “I don’t like that we left zeros up there the rest of the day, but it’s really good to score (early). That’s why we squeezed in the first inning to get the first run. Again, if Connar’s on, very few people score more than two off of him — they got three. And they earned it.”
As mentioned, Wauseon went scoreless the rest of the way, while Bryan did not manage their first run until the top of the fourth.
Keith Huard and Noah Huard walked for the Bears in the fourth, moving into scoring position on an errant pickoff attempt with two outs. Ethan Psurny plated Keith Huard with a shallow base hit, but Eli Delgado gunned down Noah Huard at the plate to end the inning.
In Bryan’s half of the fifth, Mikey Wolff’s one-out RBI single plated Deckrosh, trimming the Wauseon lead to 4-2. However, Eli Delgado flashed his defense for the Indians to keep them on top, making a grab on Quinn Brown’s fly to center and a diving play on Keith Huard’s knock to right-center.
“So we had Connar in center at the beginning of the year, and once we saw Eli flying around out there, it made it easier to move him (Connar) back to short when he’s not pitching. Eli’s done a fantastic job defensively for us all year,” Thomas said.
“Huge (performance from Eli). But I’m proud of all of our guys, and they just keep competing.”
Bryan really enhanced the pressure on Penrod in the seventh.
Deckrosh walked and a double by Wolff put the tying runs at second and third with nobody out. The Bears made it 4-3 thanks to Brown’s sacrifice fly to center.
Nevertheless, Penrod drew flyouts from Keith Huard and Clayton Rupp to get out of it.
According to Thomas, the Wauseon hurler was right around his target of 125 pitches thrown. Despite the early pressure from the Bears in the seventh, the skipper was willing to ride it out with Penrod.
“There was no way in the world he was coming out of the game,” explained Thomas. “We had a guy warming up, but he is the ultimate competitor. I’ve told people several times, he is probably the most competitive kid that we’ve ever had if not one of the most. He is just a special kid.”
Penrod earned the win after allowing three runs on five hits with five strikeouts. He finished 1 for 3 at the plate with three runs batted in.
Armstrong finished 2 for 3 with a run scored. For Bryan, Wolff was 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Wauseon, who dropped to 18-6 after a 10-3 home loss against Perrysburg Saturday, takes on Defiance this Thursday at Archbold in a district semifinal. First pitch is at 4 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.