COLDWATER — The Cardiac Cats did it again.
Minster won its second straight district title with a 4-3 win over Crestview that — in typical Wildcat style this season — came down to a pulsepounding finish in the seventh inning.
“To be able to do this two years in a row, that’s something special,” Minster head coach Mike Wiss said.
PHOTO GALLERY: Minster repeats as district champion
Crestview, after entering the seventh inning trailing 4-2, loaded the bases with no one out. The Knights mustered only one run off a bases-loaded walk.
Minster third baseman Austin Knapke fielded a chopper and got a force out at second base on a close play to end the game.
“I just had to think quickly and try to get him at second base,” Knapke said. “It was about the only play I really had.”
If the baserunner had beaten the throw, the game would’ve been tied.
Instead, Knapke and the Wildcats are headed back to Springfield next week to face South Charleston Southeastern next Thursday in Springfield at 5 p.m.
Minster scored the go-ahed run in the fifth on Adam Niemeyer's bunt single on a squeeze play that brought Jay Eilerman home from third base.
Austin Knapke added what proved to be the game-winning run with a double that plugged the left field gap to bring Eilerman all the way around from first base for the 4-2 cushion.
Eilerman reached base three times and scored three of Minster’s four runs from the leadoff spot.
Minster had to use two pitchers on short rest and a third pitcher who hadn’t pitched in almost a month because of injury.
Minster senior Doug Huber started the game and worked the first four and 1-3 innings on just one day rest after starting Wednesday’s district semifinal.
Junior Austin Knapke then pitched two innings of relief, giving up one run. He was also pitching for the second time in three days.
Minster scored in the first inning on a hot ground ball off the bat of Devon Poeppelman that got past the Crestview third baseman and then went under the glove of the left fielder, as well. Adam Niemeyer came all the way around from first base to score the game’s first run.
Minster added another run in the third on a Devon Poeppelman sacrifice fly to medium right field that brought home the speedy Jay Eilerman, who had walked to start the inning and moved to third on Adam Niemeyer’s opposite field single that he served into right field.