Wauseon baseball played its first home game of the season Tuesday, overcoming an early two-run deficit and coming away with a 7-4 victory against visiting Fairview.
The triumph also got head coach Trent Thomas to career win number 165, making him the program’s winningest coach by surpassing Bill Gase atop the list.
But he would downplay the honor after the game, saying the credit goes to the many great players he’s had the opportunity to coach since the 2008 season when he took over. He was even unaware how close he was to breaking the record.
“I don’t pay attention to that. We don’t do that,” said Thomas. “We’ve had a lot of great kids. To get this means I’ve been here a long time. And we have a lot of great, great players. That’s the bottom line.”
As for the game itself, things changed for the Indians in the bottom of the third inning down 2-0. Keaton Hartsock and Jude Armstrong both walked to begin the frame, followed by an Eli Delgado sacrifice bunt that put them in scoring position.
Wauseon trimmed the deficit in half by way of Ryan Marks’ sacrifice fly to left field scoring Hartsock. Then Will Sherman and Tyson Rodriguez each walked, filling the bases with Indians.
They tied it at 2-2 after Clay Stump reached on an error to score Armstrong.
Then something odd happened.
A wild pitch was thrown that was sure to score one run, but when it rested atop the backstop and close to — but not in — the net designed to protect fans from foul balls, the Fairview catcher could not find it allowing a total of three runs to come home.
“We played a little small ball. Which we hadn’t done the first couple games this year. And then they had the one play that was just fluky. The ball sets on the top of the fence and three runs score,” Coach Thomas explained.
“It was just setting on the wall,” he added, describing the play. “And it was kind of in the net. They could see it, their players were pointing at it (from the dugout). And the catcher just wouldn’t turn around and find it. It was like a Easter egg just sitting there.”
Wauseon led 5-2 at that time, and later made it 6-2 on Hartsock’s RBI infield single.
The Apaches did get a pair of runs back in the next half inning. With a pair of runners in scoring position, Adam Lashaway came through with an RBI single to plate Samuel Clemens, followed by Brady Karzynow’s groundout that scored Keaton Singer for a 6-4 difference.
The Indians sent seven to the plate and scored a run in the bottom half of the sixth.
They filled the bases by way of walks to Armstrong, Marks, and Sherman, with a soft lineout by Delgado in between. Next up was Rodriguez, who was hit by a pitch to force in Armstrong as an insurance run, getting the difference back to three (7-4).
Fairview would leave two base runners stranded at the corners during their final at bat of the night.
Leaving them stranded was Sherman on the mound for Wauseon, who pitched a complete game and allowed four runs — two of them earned — on five hits with eight strikeouts.
“Will is usually a strike throwing machine. And he didn’t have his best stuff today. But he did a good job of just gutting through and making it work. Just getting through seven innings. He kept saying ‘I’m OK, I’ll go back out.’ We had guys warmed up. He’s a competitor; he’s been really good for us this year. And he was great last summer,” said Thomas.
The Apaches had to use four pitchers in the game. Armstrong was 1 for 1 with three walks and two runs scored for the Indians, while teammate Reece Nation finished 2 for 4 with a run scored.
Clemens paced the Apaches, going 2 for 4 with two runs batted in and a run scored.
Wauseon (2-2) is at Defiance Thursday, returns home Friday against Otsego, and is at Lake on Saturday.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.