Swanton baseball started fast in NWOAL play last season, opening with a pair of big wins over Wauseon and Archbold. However, they also slipped up against teams like Liberty Center and Delta who finished near the bottom of the league.
After getting revenge over the Tigers last week, they did so over the Panthers at home on Monday, as Jordon Nyler pitched a gem and the Bulldogs won 3-0.
“A good, hard fought game,” said Swanton coach Tim McCarthy. “We always have tough, scrappy battles with them no matter what the records are. You can just throw them out the window.”
While the skipper made it clear that he wants his Bulldogs focused on the present, he knows how important it is to beat their rival.
“We talked a little bit about it (last year’s game),” he said. “We are focused on this year, but of course, you can’t forget certain things like that. So we wanted to bounce back. And not only get back on track in the league after a tough one to Bryan, but also beat a rival.”
Both teams got out to slow starts in the contest, but it was Swanton who dented the scoreboard first in the home half of the second inning.
Marek Spiess first drilled a one-out single to right field, followed by Josh Adcock who singled to center. After a Swanton strikeout, both runners moved up on a passed ball, then Brennan Spiess doubled down the left field line to give the Dogs a 2-0 advantage.
From then on, the story of the game was the pitching on both sides.
In the top of the third, Nyler did walk Gabe Freeman and he advanced to second on a wild pitch with two outs. However, he responded by striking out Jason Beverly, his second punch out of the inning, to retire the side.
“He had them off balance all game,” said McCarthy of Nyler. “He doesn’t throw hard, he just locates. He hits his spots, and he did that tonight.”
Delta mentor Damon Mattimore agreed with McCarthy’s assessment.
“We couldn’t tie two or three hits together,” Mattimore said. “He kept us off balance, he is a good pitcher. A good defensive game too for both clubs.”
Freeman, who went the entire way on the mound for the Panthers, got the Dogs to go 1-2-3 and collected a strikeout in the home half of the third.
Delta got another base runner in the fourth when Aaron Abbott hit one in between Swanton’s shortstop and third baseman, causing a lack of communication and allowing him to reach first by way of an error. But, Nyler recorded a strikeout and ground out to end the threat.
His effort would be matched by Freeman in the next half inning.
After recording a ground out and strikeout, Adcock reached for the Dogs with a single to left. Freeman though, caught Jonny Shanks looking at strike three and the inning was over with the score still 2-0 in favor of Swanton.
“He is battling. He’s throwing strikes today,” said Mattimore of Freeman’s effort on the mound. “We played (good) defense behind him with our shortstop Marc Callahan. Just an all around good defensive game. But, we’ve got to tie some hits together offensively.”
Action remained quiet until the sixth inning when Delta had perhaps its best scoring chance of the day.
It all began with Beverly who hit a double down the left field line with one out. Austin Sayen then drew a base on balls to put a pair of runners on.
Nyler remained calm, forcing the next two batters to fly out to end the threat.
“That’s the game of baseball,” explained Mattimore. “You get in those situations you’ve got to capitalize. Today was a rough day, we did not do that.”
Swanton then added a run on consecutive hits in the bottom of the inning to push their lead to 3-0.
Following a fly out, Gunnar Oakes hit a shot out to the gap in right center field for a triple. The very next batter, Michael Lawniczak, singled to plate Oakes.
“Gunnar’s been struggling a little bit, but he’s been working really hard. And his swing is now back and he drove that ball,” said McCarthy. “Lawniczak came up and I told him, (if) you like the first pitch hit it, hit it up the middle.”
Nyler got the first two batters pretty easily in Delta’s at bat in the seventh before Ron Vargyas reached with a walk. Tim Sonick then reached on an error to put runners on the corners.
Sonick stole second base as two Panthers were now in scoring position, however, an easy grounder was then hit to first base to close it out.
Adcock finished 2 for 2 at the plate for Swanton, while Brennan Spiess knocked in two RBIs and Lawniczak one. Callahan and Beverly had the only hits for Delta.
Nyler earned the shutout win, striking out four batters in the process. Freeman allowed three runs on seven hits, but struck out six in taking the loss.
Delta was back in action Tuesday where they hosted Hilltop, edging the Cadets 6-5. Freeman was 2 for 4 and Abbott 2 for 2 with a pair of RBIs to lead the Panther offense.
Swanton (2-1 NWOAL) travels to Montpelier tomorrow for an NWOAL contest. Delta (1-2) plays host to Archbold.
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010