Miller City's Brent Riepenhoff takes a cut at a pitch Wednesday in the Wildcats district semi-final game with Allen East.
Miller City's Brent Riepenhoff takes a cut at a pitch Wednesday in the Wildcats district semi-final game with Allen East.
By Charlie Warnimont
Sentinel Sports Editor
ELIDA - Ross Lehman didn't have his best stuff early against Allen East Wednesday afternoon at Elida's Ed Sandy Field.

As a sophomore it could have been a case of nerves pitching in a Division IV district semi-final or the fact Allen East came out swinging and taking advantage of a couple of Wildcat defensive mistakes. However, the young righty stayed with it and pitched six strong innings as Miller City's offense came to life late to help the Wildcats to a 14-4 win in the first district semi-final game.

The win sends Miller City (17-7) to the district finals Friday at Elida against Delphos St. John's at 5 p.m. The Blue Jays advanced with a 6-0 win over Kalida in the second game Wednesday afternoon. The Mustangs saw their season come to a close at 16-10.

Allen East came out aggressive Wednesday afternoon taking the extra base when the chance presented itself to build a 3-0 lead after one inning.

Reggie Keller opened the game by taking a walk and moving to second on a wild pitch. A single to left by Derek Ketchum allowed Keller to score and Ketchum took second on the throw home. Tanner Stippich reached on an error and he went to second on another miss throw by the Wildcat defense. Erik Neeley followed with a single that had runners at the corners before a double steal allowed Stippich to score as Miller City threw to second base to get Neeley.

After the opening inning, Lehman allowed at-least one base runner in the next five inning, but the Mustangs could only score one more run, that coming in the fifth. Lehman moved to 6-1 on the season as he threw 118 pitches in his six plus innings. Ross Kaufman worked the seventh inning as he worked out of bases loaded jam to keep Allen East at four runs.

"The first inning didn't go so well, but after that the bats came alive, we got a few runs up there and that boosts the confidence," Lehman said. "I struggled the first inning, but I settled down. I definitely had more control of my fastball after the first inning and I threw the curveball well. Give them credit they are a good hitting team."

Allen East starter Braden Goodwin allowed only one base runner through two innings before the Wildcats reached him in the third inning for three runs to tie the game.

Number eight hitter Jeremy Balbaugh and number nine hitter Logan Dukes opened the inning with singles for the Wildcats first hits of the game. Kaufman bounced into a fielders choice play as Dukes was forced at second base. Jackson Lammers and Jared Fuka followed with RBI singles before Lammers scored the tying run on a two out wild pitch.

Miller City grabbed the lead in the fourth inning as Hunter Berner opened the inning with a double down the left field line. Goodwin retired the next two batters before Dukes hit a squibber out in front of the plate. The Allen East catcher fielded the ball, but his throw to first was wide and into short right field allowing Berner to score giving Miller City a 4-3 lead.

"We've hit the ball well the last two or three weeks," Miller City coach Dusty Pester said. "We've been off, except for Tuesday, five straight days and I was concerned about our sticks and not seeing enough live pitching. I thought their starter, and reliever, threw the ball hard, but we stayed on him and we did what we had to do early to get the game back to even. We hit the ball hard, I was very happy."

"The bottom of our lineup has been pretty clutch all year in big games. It seems like those guys take it upon themselves if the top (of the order) is struggling a little and saying we can do this. Hitting is contagious and I think that is what happened late in the game," Pester added.

Allen East tied the game in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single by Neeley had a one out double by Stippich. That's when Miller City decided enough was enough.

The Wildcats sent 10 batters to the plate in each of the sixth and seventh innings as they scored five runs in each inning.

Brent Riepenhoff had a two run single in the inning and Lammers had a run scoring double. One run scored on a wild pitch and one on an error.

In the seventh inning, Miller City opened the inning with six straight singles as Dukes, Kaufman and Lammers all had RBI singles with the bases loaded. Riepenhoff plated a run on a fielders choice out and the final run scored on an error. The Wildcats also had a runner thrown out at the plate in the inning.

Berner had two doubles and a single for the Wildcats, while Lammers and Dukes both had three singles for Miller City.

Neeley had a double and single for the Mustangs, while Ketchum and Travis Wireman both had two singles.

* * *

Miller City 003 105 5 - 14 16 2

Allen East 300 010 0 - 4 9 4

WP-Lehman (6-1). LP-Goodwin.