MINSTER — Minster senior Adam Niemeyer has only pitched 22 innings so far this season. Minster head coach Mike Wiss knows he needs his top pitcher fresh for games like the one on Tuesday night.
Minster’s ace and future Buckeye came through in the Wildcats’ biggest game to date.
Niemeyer struck out eight in a two-hit shutout to lead the Minster baseball team to a 2-0 win over Coldwater in a Midwest Athletic Conference showdown at Hanover Street Park.
“This is his time — the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth weeks of the season — he’s going to get his opportunities,” Minster head coach Mike Wiss said. “Today he was on and we played good defense behind him.”
NIemeyer, who retired the last 10 Coldwater batters he faced, sat in the upper 80s with his fastball and as the game went along mixed in more and more effective breaking balls and change-ups. And Niemeyer was comfortable throwing the offspeed at any point in the count. Late in the game, nursing a two-run lead Niemeyer threw a 3-2 offspeed pitch that had a Coldwater hitter lunging for a strikeout.
“He got a lot better...especially once he stopped getting behind the count the first couple innings and the change-up and the curveball started being a lot more effective,” Wiss said.
A large crowd lined the fences and filled the bleachers behind the plate at Hanover Street Park to take in one of the area’s best regular season match-ups between teams a combined 27-3 heading into the game.
Minster is now the lone unbeaten left in the Midwest Athletic Conference at 4-0 and 14-1 overall, as Coldwater fell to 14-3 and 3-1 in the MAC.
The speed of Minster leadoff man Jay Eilerman helped swipe the Cats a run in the bottom of the first. Eilerman walked to start the inning, stole second base and went to third on a wild pitch that skipped just a few feet away from the catcher down the third base line. With the infield pulled in, Niemeyer knocked a liner into centerfield to drive in Eilerman and give Minster a 1-0 lead.
“When you get a game like this and have a guy like Adam on the mound, you get that first run in the first inning and you have a comfort zone,” Minster head coach Mike Wiss said.
Minster added a run of padding in the fourth inning, sparked by the bottom of the order. After two were out, Brandon Hoying singled up the middle and moved to second on a passed ball. Ninth-place hitter Josh Nixon walked to get it back to the top of the order.
“We have four seniors and Ethan Wolf in the top half of the order. We stress the more we can get the bottom of the order on base, the more opportunities, more RBI possibilities for those guys at the top.”
Hoying scored on a wild pitch to give Minster a 2-0 lead.
Coldwater never got a baserunner past second base against Niemeyer, and the right arm of Ethan Wolf from behind the plate made sure of it in the top of the fourth.
When a Coldwater baserunner wandered off second base following a walk, Wolf fired a perfect throw to shortstop Devon Poeppelman, who applied the tag for the third out of the inning.
Minster scraped together two runs on six hits, one run off each Cavalier starter Grant Muhlenkamp and reliever Christian Schramm. Muhlenkamp struck out six in five innings of work. Schramm threw two scoreless innings.
Coldwater centerfielder Mitch Schoenherr saved a pair of runs in the bottom of the third inning with a leaping, diving catch in the left center gap on a line drive off the bat of Devon Poeppelman with runners on first and second base. The runners had to scamper back to the bags and Muhlenkamp got Ethan Wolf to line out to right field to end that threat.
Minster gets right back into MAC play tonight when it goes to New Bremen in a game that has been rescheduled due to rain twice.