They pitched, they caught the ball, and they played with confidence. But most of all, Brian Harlamert’s youthful Coldwater Cavaliers hit with abandon in league-opening win over Minster.
Coldwater – Bear in mind, that one game does not a season make. And a quality 9-3 win hardly stamps your name on the league trophy.
But for the way that the youthful Coldwater Cavaliers played Tuesday in their MAC-opener with Minster, well, it certainly opened some eyes. That…and both teams were wearing orange. You had to open your eyes to make out who was who!
Pitting pitching ace, Dylan Thobe, against Minster’s ace, Aaron Ernst – there had to be some concern following last week’s pedestrian win over Liberty Benton, as to how coach Brian Harlamert’s batting order would produce under the pressure of league play.
The Cavaliers jumped out early, scoring two in the first, three in the third, a single run in the fourth, and punctuated the onslaught with a 3-run fifth that saw Ernst gone from the mound two outs deep in the fourth.
Better, three of their first five hits in the game were extra-base hits, none bigger than junior third baseman Nathan Grunden’s double in the first to drive in teammates Sam Broering and Dylan Thobe.
“It was pretty big,” smiled Grunden afterwards. “You want to go up there confident and Coach is always preaching patience and hitting the ball middle and away, and against a good pitcher like Ernst you’ve got to do that. Just sit on the curveball, see it come out of his hand, and drive it the other way.”
But listen, those are words usually meant for teams of veteran experience, not sophomores and juniors playing their first substantive innings. The “kiddie Cavs” made it look much easier than that.
Broering (junior) had a pair of hits.
Thobe (senior) pitched well and had a pair of hits.
Jacob Wenning (sophomore) didn’t have a hit, but was on base two times.
Grunden (junior) had that first inning double and was on base twice.
Austin Riethman (sophomore) was on base twice.
Ryan Knapke (senior) was on base twice with a hit and a walk.
You get the picture. Coldwater scored their nine runs on just eight hits, and were aided immeasurably by four Minster errors.
Ace versus ace, Dylan Thobe pitched well enough for the first five innings, giving up three runs on five hits. Aaron Ernst was not so fortunate.
Ernst, who tuned up for Tuesday’s start with three innings on Saturday against Fort Loramie, simply had no command, leaving too many fastballs up in the zone…in harm’s way.
“We couldn’t locate down (in the zone) at all,” said a disappointed Minster coach, Mike Wiss. “Give them credit, though, they’re a good young team and they worked the count and got big hits early. Through five innings we actually had more hits than they did, but ours were singles and theirs were for extra bases.
“Our rule for playing them has always been that you can’t give Coldwater extra outs,” added Wiss. “You can’t give them easy ones and today we gave them our fair share. They hit the ball hard, don’t get me wrong. But while we’ve improved a lot in the past week and a half, we’re not where we want to be.”
9 runs on 8 hits and one error for Coldwater – versus 3 runs on 7 hits and four errors for Minster. Brian Harlamert was pleased, but not surprised.
“It’s not easy to start your MAC schedule against Minster and Mike Wiss, but I was pleased with the way we made our hits count. To get the early lead and be able to add on was a help, big time.
“The extra base hits at the beginning were hit. Nathan’s double in the first was big because it got a couple of runs in and then we were able to add on by taking advantage of Ernst being up in the strike zone. They’re a good team, but we’re finding out how good we are, and somehow now we’ve won five in a row. The key for us is our guys are getting more confident, and we’re competing.”
Sophomore Jacob Wenning pitched the final two innings of the game for Coldwater, allowing no runs and one hit. He also turned in one of the game’s two outstanding defensive plays, snaring a vicious line drive off the bat of Alex Lemkuhl in the top of the seventh and then doubling Isaac Schmiesing off first base.
The other was a sinking line drive by to center field in the third by Coldwater’s Tyler Hemmegarn on which Minster’s other Schmiesing, Bryce, made a diving grass-top catch.
But if youth is indeed served, Coldwater, a team overlooked by some because of their youth, may have served notice Tuesday to Versailles, Delphos, St. Henry and Ft. Recovery that they’re not so young as to be taken lightly.
“Our guys are figuring out how good they are,” concluded Harlamert. “Yes, we’re young with several sophomores and young juniors, but our today our seniors came through. Dylan Thobe pitched well and had a big triple and RBI – Ty Hemmelgarn had a big at bat – so our guys are just playing. We don’t put much pressure on them and good things are happening for us now.”