MILLER CITY — Wauseon baseball’s summer season came to a screeching halt Monday when some seventh inning pitching struggles enabled host Miller City to battle back from a 4-2 deficit and turn it into a 5-4 walkoff win in the consolation bracket of the District 2 ACME district tournament.
The Wildcats would then be eliminated with a 9-4 loss to Tinora, who advances to state from the district.
The Indians’ Tyson Rodriguez, who had pitched six strong innings, began the seventh by hitting the first two batters. A deep double to right off the bat of Joe Deitering, that was just out of the reach of Keaton Hartsock, plated Thomas Weis to make it a one-run game, 4-3.
Wauseon switched to Evan Bauer on the mound with Rodriguez behind 1-0 to the next batter, Caleb Warnimont, but Bauer ended up walking Warnimont. Also during Warnimont’s at-bat, a wild pitch scored Austin Ruhe to knot the game at 4-4.
Both Deitering and Warnimont advanced on a wild pitch, then the Indians elected to intentionally walk the next hitter, loading the bases with still no one out.
The move proved unsuccessful as a base on balls to CJ Lehman brought in Deitering to end it.
“The first guy, leadoff guy gets on. I don’t know if it was a hit by pitch or a walk. That just kind of sets the tone a little bit for that inning,” said Wauseon coach Trent Thomas. “That was a tough play (Deitering’s double), if Keaton makes it I’m ecstatic, but that’s a really tough play. The guy got the barrel on it. Again Tyson, I’m gonna say he threw a total of three or four innings this spring in JV baseball. And then threw four (in sectional ACME) against Napoleon. So getting six plus innings out of him, I’m not gonna ask for anything better. I thought he was good; he’s only gonna get better.”
Prior to the seventh, Wauseon had a pair of two-run innings in the third and fourth. Miller City scored single runs in the first and third.
Offensively for the Indians, Rodriguez did not have a hit (o for 3) but drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk and another after hitting into a fielder’s choice.
Reece Nation had a pair of hits, a walk, and a run scored for the Indians. Jude Armstrong went 1 for 3 with a run batted in and also scored a run.
Although their season ended abruptly, much growth was made by the Wauseon program this summer.
“I didn’t know what we were gonna have. We lost a ton of guys from last year,” admitted Thomas. “These guys have just exceeded and just continued to push themselves to be better. And exceeded probably my expectations.
“We found a few leaders. That was another thing. We had 12 really good leaders out of that senior class. That’s what summer baseball’s all about. It’s not about winning championships, although we would have loved to have (kept) playing. It’s about building momentum for next spring.”
Among those leaders heading into next season are players who gained experience on the league championship team this spring: Jude Armstrong, Eli Delgado and Clay Stump. But, according to Thomas, they found some more over the course of June and early July.
“There are some young kids that have stepped up and had good summers for us,” the Wauseon skipper said. “Again, Will Sherman didn’t play for us in the spring but he had a heck of a summer on the mound and showed us a lot. Played really good at third base and hit the ball pretty well. Guys like that. Even Evan Bauer, who doesn’t play anything other than pitch, he’s a really good leader and kept us going when we were down.”
They hope it pays off for them next spring when they look to defend their Northwest Ohio Athletic League title.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.