Minster survived a sloppy start, and Versailles squandered a golden opportunity, in a pivotal MAC baseball showdown.
Minster - Both coaches, Mike Wiss and Mitch Hoying, agreed. Their Friday evening MAC showdown in baseball between Minster and Versailles was hardly special for the way it was played.
It coulda’ been something pretty special, especially for Versailles. As it turned out, the Hoying and the Tigers missed an opportunity to beat the defending Division IV champs, stay in a first-place tie for the MAC lead, and put a stamp on their already successful 16-6 season.
It just didn’t happen, albeit, Minster gave them every chance in the world before scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth to ultimately win, 5-4.
Three errors, a pair of walks by pitcher Devon Poeppelman, and sloppy play in the first two innings by the Wildcats staked starting pitcher Versailles’ Zach Niekamp and the Tigers to four early runs.
But Minster came back, with one in first and a pair in the second to make things 4-3, and interesting for the middle innings. And while both teams had their opportunities to break it open…it just didn’t happen.
The big guns in the middle of the Wildcat batting order were quiet…Adam Niekamp 0-for the game.
And Versailles lost momentum three times by hitting into inning-ending double plays.
At one point, Minster’s Wiss circled the wagons between at bats along the third base line.
“I lit ‘em up pretty good,” he smiled afterwards. “We’ve kinda’ got relaxed at the plate since the first inning of the Loramie game last week. We’re dropping the back shoulder when we swing and we’re not driving the ball. We had to have a little reminder between innings.”
Whatever he said worked particularly well for the bottom of his batting order. Catcher Ethan Wolf and left fielder Drew Elson combine to go 4 for 6 for the game, all singles, and scored the tying and go ahead runs in the sixth.
Still nobody “drove” them in. Wolf was forced in when Versailles reliever Dominic Richard hit a batter with the bases loaded, and one out later Niemeyer grounded out to short to drive in Elson with the winning run.
“Yeah, how ’bout that?” smiled Wiss, appreciative of his number eight and nine hitters. “That’s what makes high school baseball interesting.”
But not so special for Mitch Hoying, who could only shake his head on the way to the Versailles bus and lament his teams lack of hitting. “We’re just not swinging the bat right now.”
Friday’s outcome sets up four-way tie for second place in the MAC with Minster, Versailles, Delphos and St. Henry, while entering Friday New Breman was the team with just one loss.
“We got three more league games with those teams,” said Wiss. “I like our chances.”
And for good reason. Minster came up short a year ago…and still won the Division IV state championship.
That, too, makes high school baseball pretty special!