MINSTER — The Minster baseball took the adage 'survive and advance' to its uncomfortable limit, but the Wildcats will play for a second straight district title on Friday night.
Minster came back from an early deficit and weathered a nerve-wracking final inning to advance in the Division IV district tournament with a 4-2 win over Spencerville on Wednesday at Coldwater.
Minster will play Crestview, which outlasted St. Henry 3-2 in eight innings in the second game, on Friday at 7 p.m. in Coldwater. Minster beat Crestview 14-9 in a Wednesday night slugfest back on April 18.
Austin Knapke worked three scoreless innings of relief and added a key two-out, two-run hit for the Wildcats, who improved to 21-6 on the season.
Battling with a starting pitcher shaking off some rust and an offense that took a while to square up the offspeed stuff of Spencerville starting pitcher Matt Youngpeter, the Wildcats moved on by scoring three of their four runs with two outs and making the Bearcats pay for six errors in the field.
Minster rallied with three runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 3-2 lead.
Ethan Wolf went to the opposite field with a humpback liner into the right field gap that brought home Ryan Hoying from second.
After Drew Elson walked to load the bases and Jay Eilerman popped up to third base for the second out of the inning, Austin Knapke delivered a two-run, two-out single to center field to bring in Wente and Wolf.
Minster tacked on a run in the fourth when Drew Elson singled with one out, moved to second on an error on a pickoff throw by the pitcher and scored after back-to-back Spencerville errors on ground balls.
Minster senior starting pitcher Doug Huber battled through four innings without his usual command after a two-week layoff from the mound. Huber injured a finger while batting and missed a start in the sectional title game. He went four innings, giving up two runs on three hits while walking four.
Minster shoehorned its way out of trouble in the top of the seventh to secure the win. After Knapke retired the first two batters of the inning, two hits and a walk loaded the bases. But with the tying runs in scoring position, Knapke got Kasey Lee to pop up to first baseman Huber in foul territory along the first base line.