Miller City's Travis Maas scores a run as Ottoville catcher Luke Schimmoeller waits on a throw.
Miller City's Travis Maas scores a run as Ottoville catcher Luke Schimmoeller waits on a throw.
By Charlie Warnimont

Sentinel Sports Editor

MILLER CITY - A stiff wind blowing in towards home plate Tuesday afternoon forced hitters to take a different approach at the plate.

Miller City's approach was to put the ball in play as much as possible and have Ottoville make plays. Fortunately for the Wildcats the Big Green didn't have one of their better defensive games on Tuesday.

The Big Green committed seven errors on defense and combined with the Wildcats 10 base hits Miller City laid claim to at least a share of the Putnam County League with a 12-2, five inning, win over the Big Green. The title share is the Wildcats first since the 2009 season.

Miller City moved to 6-0 in league play, 12-6 overall, and will host Columbus Grove this afternoon as they look for an outright title. The Bulldogs are 4-1 in PCL play. Ottoville dropped to 7-7 on the season and 4-2 in the league as they close out league play Thursday at Kalida.

With the wind blowing in at Miller City, Wildcat coach Dusty Pester knew his team would have to take a differ

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ent approach at the plate Tuesday. And his hitters were up to the task as they were able to hit more line drives or groundballs and make Ottoville make plays to get them out.

"We talked about having the approach at the plate of making the defense work and hitting the ball hard," Pester said. "The ball wasn't going to do anything in the air so you had to put it on the ground and we were fortunate enough to capitalize on a few of their mistakes today."

While Miller City's plan worked, it was the Big Green that grabbed an early lead in this contest.

With one out in the Ottoville first, Jacob Turnwald walked and Luke Schimmoeller followed with a single to right. Brandon Boecker took advantage of a break in the wind to line a double to left-center that scored Turnwald. A sacrifice fly by Jarrod Fanning made it a 2-0 game.

Miller City was able to get a first inning base runner, but could not move him past first base. The Wildcats turned the game around in the second inning with help from two Ottoville errors.

Brent Riepenhoff walked to start the inning and Adam Drummelsmith reached on an error at shortstop. After an out, Adam Niese lined a run scoring single to center and Logan Dukes followed with a single to left. Drummelsmith attempted to score on the play, but was cut down at the plate on a fine throw to the plate by Ottoville's Fanning.

Ross Kaufman followed with a two run double to left field to give Miller City a 3-2 lead. Jackson Lammers made it a 4-2 game with a single to left and he took second on an error by the left fielder.

Miller City added a run in the third inning as Riepenhoff and Drummelsmith worked one out walks and Hunter Berner reached on an error at third base that allowed Riepenhoff to score and put Wildcat runners at second and third. Big Green lefty Derek Schimmoeller avoided further trouble getting a popup foul to his catcher and a fielders choice play to end the inning.

While Miller City starter Ross Lehman struggled with the command of his pitches in the wind, the Big Green were only able to push across runs in the first inning. Ottoville had base runners in every inning, but the fourth, but could not get a clutch hit after the first. Lehman moved to 4-1 on the season as he allowed two runs on three hits with three strikeouts and six walks.

"Ross did not have his command tonight, like sometimes he normally can," Pester said. "He battled and that's what we ask of our guys. He has to kind of battle and if he is not hurt, he is going to work through it. Ross has that Bulldog attitude where he doesn't want to come out of the game. His pitch count was getting high, but it kind of worked out for us tonight."

Schimmoeller only worked three innings for the Big Green before giving way to Alex Horstman. He worked out of a jam in the fourth, but in the fifth the Wildcats touched him up for seven runs to end the game. Ottoville had a pair of errors in the inning to help Miller City.

Drmmelsmith had a two run single in the inning, while Kaufman, Jared Fuka, Lehman, Berner and Dukes all had an RBI in the inning. The game ending run scored when Berner's groundball to short was misplayed allowing pinch runner Travis Maas to score ahead of the throw from the outfield.

"Ottoville is a good team, but they made some mistakes tonight," Pester said. "We were fortunate enough to capitalize on some of their mistakes. I was glad to see us hit the ball like we did. We have been striking out a lot lately and he (Schimmoeller) has a lot of strikeouts on the year. Our focus was to put the ball in play and make the defense work and good things could happen."

"Derek pitched well early, then the wheels kind of fell off for us," Ottoville coach Tony Castronova said. "This is the worst our defense has played all year. But we have to refocus and get ready for a league game on Thursday. They are a good hitting team. They put the ball in play and we didn't make the plays."

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Ottoville 200 00 - 2 3 7

Miller City 041 0 7 - 12 10 0

WP-Lehman (4-1). LP-D. Schimmoeller.