HAMLER – The Kalida Wildcats banged out seven hits, including six in succession, to score seven second inning runs and went on to defeat Archbold, 11-3, in the opening game of the ACME District II tournament at Patrick Henry High School on Saturday.
Several of the hits were of the seeing eye variety, barely eluding the out stretched gloves of the Blue Streak infielders but equally as effective as line drives. “Some of that is just baseball,” said Archbold coach Ben Bucklew, commenting on some of the hits that were virtually fractions of an inch from being outs. “It depends on how the ball bounces.”
For the Wildcats and their starting pitcher Trent Gerding, however, the ball usually seemed to bounce their way as he recorded 12 ground ball outs, including five straight to start the contest, in tossing a complete game.
Blue Streak starter, Ben Bucklew, breezed through the first inning but quickly ran into trouble in the bottom of the second. After issuing a base on balls to the leadoff hitter, Kalida shortstop Noah Lambert floated a soft liner just over the glove of second baseman Bryce Williams.
Bucklew was able to retire his counterpart, Gerding, on a foul out to third but then the hit parade began, starting with an RBI single to right by Dereck Buss. Four more singles followed to score four more runs, giving Kalida a 5-0 lead and the big inning was then punctuated with a bases loaded double by Trevor Maag, upping the Wildcat advantage to 7-0.
Coach Bucklew brought in Lathon Babcock and the hard throwing left-hander set down the next two batters to get out of the inning.
The Archbold bats made some noise as well as they started two out rallies in both the second and third innings. Isaac Petersen and Ian Radabaugh singled in the second and Toby Walker and Bucklew reached base in the third but both scoring opportunities ended with pop outs to short.
Finally, in the top of the fourth, the Streaks were able to break into the scoring column. Seth Mayer poked a line drive single to left, stole second and then, in a heads-up play, continued on to third when the pitch was mishandled by the catcher.
After a walk to Petersen, Mayer came home on another wild pitch to give Archbold their first run. Petersen then stole second and later scored when Kaiden Bedsole grounded a pitch into the hole on the left side, trimming the deficit to five at 7-2.
Kalida was able to get one run back in the bottom of the inning without the benefit of a hit, taking advantage of three walks and a hit batter to push the score to 8-2 after four.
The score remained the same into the bottom of the sixth when the Wildcats plated three more runs on three hits, essentially sealing the outcome. The Streaks managed to push one more across in the top of the seventh to make the final 11-3.
“We were out hit and out hustled in some cases. It was a tough game,” said coach Bucklew after the contest. “I don’t think there is any team we can’t compete with here,” he continued, discussing his team’s chances of coming out of the consolation bracket to advance out of this double elimination tournament. “After the talk we just had I think our guys are ready.”
The Blue Streaks were scheduled to play Ayersville on Sunday afternoon in an elimination game but the entire day’s slate was washed out by heavy rains. They then attempted to move the game to Monday at Archbold, but because of more inclement weather, it was pushed back to Tuesday. Results from that contest can be found in Thursday’s edition of the Expositor.