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ST. HENRY — Minster wanted to do more than just give itself a puncher’s chance at a district ACME title. By knocking Wapakoneta out of the tournament in one game instead of two, the Wildcats will be rested and ready when they square off with Coldwater on Thursday.
Minster’s sudden three-run fifth inning proved to be the difference in a 3-2 win over Wapakoneta in an ACME district semifinal game at St. Henry on Tuesday night.
Minster advances to the district championship round to play Coldwater in a best-of-three match-up. The Wildcats and Cavaliers open the series on Thursday at St. Henry’s Wally Post Athletic Complex.
“The plan going into this one was that we couldn’t lose the first one,” Minster coach Scott Sherman said. “One, we don’t want to have to come back tomorrow and throw another pitcher and for two, we want to be able to play Coldwater with no losses.”
The loss bounced Wapakoneta from the tournament, an exit for a team that went 18-2 in the regular season and rolled through the sectional without a loss. But Van Wert stunned the Redskins in the opening game this week with a power surge. Minster finished the Redskins’ season with a more understated offensive attack.
After sending just one batter above the minimum to the plate over the first four innings and being no-hit until the fourth inning, the Wildcats collected five consecutive hits to start the top of the fifth inning to score the deciding runs.
“We didn’t look good at the plate for four straight innings,” Minster coach Scott Sherman said.
That all changed in a hurry.
Doug Huber singled and Rob Wente doubled to put a pair of runners in scoring position. Drew Elson followed with a double to right centerfield that brought one in. Ethan Wolf followed with a two-run double that he served the other way down the right field line.
“They scored those three runs in a inning and nine times out of ten two of those doubles are going to get caught,” Wapakoneta coach Willie Sammetinger said. “But we didn’t catch them. We get beat, 3-2. It was a tremendous ballgame.”
Wapakoneta got out of a jam two batters later when baserunning errors led to a double play, but the game-changing damage was already done with Minster starting pitcher Adam Niemeyer growing stronger as the game went along.
Niemeyer, who hadn’t pitched since the end of the ACME regular season, went the distance for Minster. Niemeyer gave up two runs on three hits. Niemeyer struck out seven and walked two.
“I thought about the third and fourth inning he got loose,” Sherman said. “I thought as the game went on he was throwing harder and he was locating the ball. He threw a lot of fastballs for strikes and he threw a lot of them by their hitters.”
Niemeyer retired the game’s final seven hitters and allowed only one baserunner get to second base over the last five innings.
Wapakoneta grabbed a 2-0 second-inning lead on Alex Koch two-out, two-run double that caromed off the top of the diving centerfielder’s glove to score Chandler Kaeck and Andrew Hines.
Wapakoneta turned a trio of double plays with slick fielding on two of them from second baseman Caleb Zweibel and shortstop Josh Apple doing the work.
“Defensively we played really, really well,” Sammetinger said. “Zweibel made turned two double plays and picked off some runners.”
Minster came into Tuesday night’s game fresher than Wapakoneta and will enter Thursday’s district title round with some wiggle room without a loss in the double elimination tournament.
Wapakoneta had to finish off a game against Van Wert beforehand that had been suspended due to lightning. Wapak won 12-7 over the Cougars with a five-run inning.
“Wapak was in a tough spot having lost that first game and having to come through the loser’s bracket,” Sherman said.
The winner of the Coldwater-Minster three-game set will advance to the state ACME tournament. Celina is the host city of the tournament this season.
Minster will be trying to get to the state tournament in the ACME season just a month after winning the state championship in the spring.
R H E LOB
MIN 000 030 0 — 3 9 1 2
WAP 020 000 0 — 2 3 0 5
WP — Niemeyer LP — Miller
2B — MIN: Wente, Elson, Wolf. WAP: Kaeck, Koch,
3B — MIN: Hoying.