DELPHOS — High school baseball is a “simple” matter of making routine plays in the field and at the plate, plus getting solid enough pitching to keep a team in the game.
Jefferson did all three Wednesday versus Fort Jennings, scoring four in the top of the seventh to escape with a 7-5 non-league triumph on an overcast afternoon/evening at Wildcat Field.
The game was moved from Fort Jennings Village Park due to wet grounds but the Musketeers (6-11) were the home team on the scoreboard.
Trailing 5-3 to enter the seventh frame, Ryan Bullinger ripped a single to left against Musketeer starter Alex Vetter (6-plus innings, 5 hits, 5 runs, 3 earned, 1 free pass, 1 strikeout; 76 pitches, 49 for strikes) and Nick Fitch was hit by a pitch, ending Vetter’s stint on the mound for Ryan Rau (1 IP, 1 hit, 2 runs, 1 earned, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 hit batter). Pinch-hitter Tyler Rice got aboard on a 2-base throwing error, plating Bullinger for a 5-4 deficit and putting Fitch at third. Jace Stockwell walked to load the bases and a wild pitch tied it at 5 as Fitch touched the dish. Hunter Binkley slashed a liner to center, getting pinch-runner Josh Teman and Stockwell home for a 7-5 lead. Binkley burgled second and Ross Thompson was plunked. Austin Jettinghoff bounced out and Gage Mercer bounced to third, when Alex Vetter gunned down Binkley trying to score. Adam Rode was fanned for the final out.
That uprising gave the fourth Jefferson hurler, Jettinghoff (2 IPs, 1 hit, 1 BB) the victory as he sent down the Musketeers in order in the home seventh.
The hosts got two on in the first on a 2-out infield hit to short by Mark Metzger (3-for-4) and a liner to left by Rau (2-for-4) but left them stranded (8 for the game).
Jennings put up a 4-spot in the third against Jefferson starter Jordan Herron (2 1/3 IPs, 5 hits, 4 ERs, 1 BB, 1 HB, 1 K). Jared Hoersten was plunked but was forced at second by Conner Wollenhorst’s attempted sacrifice. He stole second and scored as Dylan Van Loo (2-for-4) went opposite way for a double to left center. Metzger beat out an infield hit to deep short. Rau lined a singled to left that plated Van Loo for a 2-0 lead. Vetter walked to load the bases and finish Herron on the hill for Stockwell (1 2/3 IPs, 2 hits, 2 Ks). Sam Vetter’s bouncer to third forced Metzger at home on Herron’s throw. However, Kyle Hellman’s bloop to right center got Rau and A. Vetter home for a 4-0 bulge.
The Wildcats (11-6) didn’t touch A. Vetter until Stockwell led off the Jefferson fourth with a bunt single down the third-base line. Binkley earned a free pass. However, Stockwell was forced at third by Thompson and the next two batters were retired to maintain a 4-run Musketeer edge.
Hoersten led off the Musketeer fifth with a liner to left center but was caught stealing by Fitch.
Jefferson challenged again in the visitor fifth on a leadoff liner to right by Herron. Pinch-runner Damien Dudgeon was running as Bullinger bounced out and reached third on a Fitch bounceout. However, he could not score.
The hosts got a leadoff rip to center by Metzger in the bottom of the fifth against third Jefferson pitcher Teman (1-plus IP, 2 hits, 1 ER, 2 BBs, 1 K), then stole second with one down. A. Vetter walked and the Orange and Black left both on the bases.
The Wildcats made it a 4-3 deficit in the sixth. Stockwell got aboard via an error, advanced on Binkley’s comebacker and touched the dish courtesy of Thompson’s double to the left-center gap. Thompson swiped third and scored via an error on the play. Jettinghoff bunted his way aboard (third base), garnered third via a 2-base throwing miscue and scored the third Red and White run on an RBI grounder by Gage Mercer.
Fort Jennings made it 5-3 in the next half-inning. Pinch-hitter Alex Sealts rocked a double down the left-field line. Pinch-hitter Ryan Hoersten walked — bringing in Jettinghoff to the hill — and both stole the next base. Wollenhorst walked to load the sacks. Van Loo blooped a run-scoring hit to left center (Sealts). Metzger’s grounder to Binkley at second forced R. Hoersten at home. Rau flied out to left and Wollenhorst tagged up to score but on appeal, he was ruled to have left early for an inning- and rally-killing double play.
“We have struggled with confidence at the plate since the Allen East loss last Thursday. We continued that for the first five innings today; we put in extra batting practice and talked about it but we’re pressing,” Jefferson coach Doug Geary explained. “Fortunately, we got a 3-spot in the sixth to put ourselves in a position to win. We took advantage of some mistakes they made in the field, which we didn’t do today. We pitched well overall outside of one inning but got some big at-bats; we need to get back to hitting with confidence because no matter how well you pitch and field, you have to score runs.”
Jefferson visits Columbus Grove today and will host Bluffton (postponed due to weather Tuesday) Friday, picking up in the middle of the fourth inning.
“We’d been playing well lately, winning four straight before today. We struggled before that but especially at the plate, seemed to be turning the corner there,” Jennings coach Eric Schwab noted. “We had two bad innings today. We threw the ball around too much in the field and Jefferson did what they had to do. That’s really the story for us today.”
Jace Stockwell ss/p 3-2-1-0, Hunter Binkley lf/2b 3-0-1-2, Ross Thompson 3b/ss 3-1-1-1, Austin Jettinghoff 2b/p 4-1-1-0, Gage Mercer 1b 4-0-0-1, Jordan Herron p/3b/ph 3-0-1-0, Damien Dudgeon pr 0-0-0-0, Adam Rode rf 1-0-0-0, Ryan Bullinger rf/cf/lf 3-1-1-0, Nick Fitch c 2-1-0-0, Kurt Wollenhaupt dh 2-0-0-0, Tyler Rice ph 1-0-0-0, Josh Teman cf/p/pr 0-1-0-0. Totals 29-7-6-4.
FORT JENNINGS (5)
Connor Wallenhorst cf 3-1-0-0, Dylan Van Loo lf 4-1-2-2, Mark Metzger ss 4-0-3-0, Ryan Rau 1b/p 4-1-2-1, Alex Vetter 2b/ph 2-1-0-0, Sam Vetter c 4-0-0-0, Kyle Hellman rf 4-0-1-2, Caleb Bankey dh 2-0-0-0, Alex Sealts 2b/ph 1-1-1-0, Jared Hoersten 3b/1b 1-0-1-0, Ryan Hoersten ph 0-0-0-0. Totals 29-5-10-5.
Score by Innings:
Jefferson 0 0 0 0 0 3 4 - 7
Ft. Jennings 0 0 4 0 0 1 0 - 5
E: Metzger, A. Vetter, J. Hoersten; DP: Jefferson 1; LOB: Jefferson 5, Fort Jennings 8; 2B: Thompson, Van Loo, Sealts; SB: Thompson, Binkley, Wallenhorst, Metzger, Hellman, Sealts, R. Hoersten; CS: J. Hoersten (by Fitch).
IP H R ER BB SO
Herron 2.1 5 4 4 1 1
Stockwell 1.2 2 0 0 0 2
Teman 1.0 2 1 1 2 1
Jettinghoff (W) 2.0 1 0 0 1 0
A. Vetter 6.0 5 5 3 1 1
Rau (L) 1.0 1 2 1 1 1
Teman pitched to 2 batters in 6th
A. Vetter pitched to 2 batters in 7th
WP: Rau; HBP: Fitch (by A. Vetter), Thompson (by Rau), J. Hoersten (by Herron).