BASEBALL: Minster wins second straight Division IV title
COLUMBUS — The celebration began at home plate and then found its way down the first base line in the form of Minster players leaping into a pile.
The Minster baseball team is king of the hill in Division IV again.
Devon Poeppelman laced a two-out single to left field and Jay Eilerman sped around third base and slid into home to set off the raucous celebration as Minster captured its second straight Division IV state baseball championship with a thrilling 5-4 win over Cuyahoga Heights on Saturday night at Huntington Field in Columbus.
"I don't even know how to describe it," Poeppelman said right after Minster hoisted the gold trophy for the second straight season. "I'm just going to enjoy it. I got a fastball. I was sitting dead-red. I knew he wasn't going to try to walk me, so I just sat back and went dead-red. The guy at third was pretty tall, so I was just hoping it got over him."
Minster needed the heroics because it failed to close the door the half inning before.
Minster coughed up a four-run lead in the top of the inning. The Wildcats tried to nail down the final three outs for the championship, but walks and a pair of errors allowed Cuyahoga Heights to tie the game at 4-4.
"Baseball is a humbling sport," Jay Eilerman said. "You just try not to think about it and you go get them the next time. That's all that matters."
Eilerman was part of the rally that undid the car wreck that was the top of the seventh.
Instead of moping, the Wildcats went back out and won the game after Eilerman began the inning with a single, moved to second on an Austin Knapke sacrifice bunt and scored with two outs on Poeppelman's laser that the left fielder bobbled while coming up to try to throw to the plate.
"It chokes me up," Eilerman said about being able to score the winning run. "Because that's what you dream about as a kid. It was picture perfect."
Eilerman, Poeppelman and Doug Huber all collected two hits for the Wildcats. Huber drove in two runs, while Poeppelman and Austin Knapke added runs batted in.
The championship is Minster's second baseball title in school history and the Wildcats finish the season at 26-6.
Minster did it with a different cast of everyday players and the same dominant pitching from last year's team.
"As we were taking our picture in centerfield after winning it last year, Doug Huber said there was no reason we couldn't do this again with all our pitching coming back. I told Doug, 'Stuff like that doesn't happen.' Well, here we are," Minster head coach Mike Wiss said.
The wild ending gave Minster senior pitcher Doug Huber a no decision in the scorebook on a day he deserved far better.
Minster's rubber-armed senior delivered in the clutch again for the Wildcats. Huber worked on no day's rest and pitched five shutout, one-hit innings a day after going five innings and giving up just one unearned run.
Austin Knapke worked the final two innings for the win, giving him three wins at Huntington Field in the last two seasons.
Look for complete coverage in Monday's Evening Leader.