DELPHOS — In high school baseball, pitching is usually far advanced than batting, especially early on.
Therefore, it becomes important to find ways to score runs.
Jefferson did that Tuesday night at Wildcat Field, eking out a 1-0 non-league dandy over Miller City.
The game was moved from the Miller City diamond in the afternoon due to wet conditions.
The hosts used three senior pitchers: starter and winner Jordan Herron (1-0; 3 IPs, 1 hit, 2 BB, 2 Ks), Ross Thompson (1 IP, 1 hit, 1 K) and Austin Jettinghoff (1st save; 3 IPs, 2 hits, 3 Ks); combining for 92 pitches total.
“That was our plan because of how the schedule sets up this week. We were going to limit Jordan to no more than 45 pitches so he could come back and throw in relief Friday,” Jefferson coach Doug Geary explained. “Today was Ross’s hump day and he got an inning with the intent to start against Paulding Friday. We got Austin some innings so he could come back later this week. We pitched and defended well today. Even when we had errors — they are a part of the game — we didn’t hang our heads; we came back and made plays. We didn’t compound one error with another.”
Miller City head man Dusty Pester was very pleased with his pitching and defense as well.
“Ross pitched well enough to win, without question. He fell behind in the count early on in the game and had to battle back,” Pester acknowledged. “As the game went on, in the middle and later innings, he settled into a groove. No doubt that the pitching is well ahead of the offense right now, especially with the way the spring has played out. We played well behind him as well.”
The hosts (3-2) pushed across the only run in the bottom of the third frame against visiting Wildcat starter and ace Ross Lehman (1-1; 6 innings, 3 hits, 1 earned run, 2 bases-on-balls, 8 strikeouts; 81 pitches, 50 for strikes). Tyler Rice led off with a slash to right center and Ryan Bullinger bunted him up a base. Jace Stockwell bounced back to Lehman, who alertly found Rice too far off second; a rundown ended up with him being tagged out. However, Austin Jettinghoff launched a triple to the fence in center, scoring Stockwell. Ross Thompson walked but Hunter Binkley was retired for the third out.
Miller City got a 2-out base knock by Jeremy Balbaugh against Thompson but he went nowhere.
The visitors threatened against Jettinghoff in the top of the fifth. Lefty-swinging Logan Dukes lined a hit the opposite way and moved up on a wild pitch. Two outs later, Adam Drummelsmith got aboard via a throwing error but they stranded both runners as Lehman lined out hard to right fielder Rice.
Miller City kept trying in the sixth. With one down, Adam Niese beat out a slow roller down the third-base line and gained second on a throwing error. Balbaugh reached on an error but once more, Jettinghoff stranded both runners with a strikeout and groundout.
After Lehman retired Jefferson 1-2-3 in the fourth and fifth, the Red and White threatened in the sixth. Jettinghoff singled to left and Thompson was hit by a pitch. However, Lehman fanned the next three to keep the game at one run.
Down to their last at-bats, Jettinghoff retired Miller City in order in the seventh to end the contest.
Miller City got its leadoff batter, Hunter Berner, on board via an error to open the contest and he stole second. An out later, he was picked off base by Herron and the next batter fanned.
Jace Stockwell led off the Delphos first with a walk and reached second on an error on a pickoff try. However, Lehman got out of the inning unscathed.
Jared Fuka led off the top half of the second with a free pass and but was forced out on a Niese grounder. He attained third on a Balbaugh grounder and a passed ball but could not touch home.
The guests had another chance in the top of the third. With one away, Travis Maag walked and Berner beat out an infield hit to the hole at short. However, Drummelsmith forced Maag at third, as did Lehman to Berner to end the rebellion.
“Our bats will come around. We have guys we know have hit and we’ll get it,” Geary added. “We worked at it Monday and we’ll work at it (today) - it will happen. We beat a team that was 17-8 last year and had their ace going, so I like what we’re doing.”
Miller City is slated to host Ottoville in a non-PCL matchup today.
“We have to find ways to score a run here or there in close, low-scoring games. We had good at-bats but it seemed when we hit it hard, it was right at someone,” Pester added. “It also comes down to the good pitching Jefferson had today. They really mixed it up with their pitches and spots and kept us off-balance.”