ST. HENRY — There’s no better example of just how experienced and tourney-tested the Minster ACME baseball team is this summer as when the Wildcats used a pair of pitchers who started the state semifinal and state championship games this spring to finish off the Coldwater Cavaliers in the district championship on Friday night.
Few summer baseball teams have this sort of arsenal on the mound.
Few in the state of Ohio have played as many games over the past three months as the players on the Minster ACME baseball team who were also members of the state championship squad in the spring, either.
The Minster ACME team punched its ticket for the state tournament with a 5-2 win over Coldwater at the Wally Post Athletic complex in St. Henry on Friday night.
Minster swept the best-of-three championship series and now advances to the state tournament in Celina that begins on Saturday, July 23 at Eastview Park. Minster, after working its way through the loser’s bracket in the sectional and finishing second in the Auglaize County tourney, didn’t lose a game in the district tourney. The Wildcats then won the championship round by beating a Coldwater baseball program that has sat atop the area for a long while.
Now with a state title under its belt in the spring and now a run to state in ACME, Minster is carving out its own niche as an area baseball power.
Big righthander Doug Huber, who started and worked the game’s first six innings for the win, said the Wildcats are used quite used to tournament situations by now.
“It’s been fun,” Huber said. “It’s been a long season of baseball and it keeps getting longer.”
Where Minster did lose talent from its spring team to graduation, younger players are helping.
“Everyone is stepping in and filling the roles we lost with our seniors leaving,” Huber said. “Everybody’s stepping up and playing ball, not making many errors.”
“The experience is a big deal,” Minster coach Alex Brandewie said. “The veterans on this team have been here. They now what it takes to win these games in crunch time. When it gets a little tough, they dig in and do a great job to make sure everybody is on the same page.”
Minster rallied from a 2-0 deficit with a five-run fourth inning hit parade aided by three Coldwater errors.
“That really helped me out,” Huber said. “We weren’t scoring anything and then we get some runs on the board and got a nice cushion.”
After Coldwater starter Drew Klosterman retired the lead-off batter in the fourth, the next five Minster batters reached base.
Niemeyer got on via a throwing error, followed by three straight RBI hits by the heart of the Minster order.
Ryan Hoying rocketed a single to right field to score Niemeyer.
Doug Huber doubled to the rightfield gap to score Hoying
to tie the game.
Rob Wente then singled in Huber and Drew Elson reached on a fielder’s choice that was followed by another throwing error.
Two batters later Jay Eilerman drove in a two-out run with a single past a diving second baseman to make it 4-2.
Minster got its fifth and final run on a Brandon Hoying bases-loaded walk.
“We were struggling there early and then when we got hot, we got really hot,” Minster coach Alex Brandewie said.
Coldwater grabbed the early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning
off Minster starter Doug Huber. An RBI double and an RBI groundout brought in the runs for the Cavaliers.
Huber worked the game’s first 6-plus innings, surrendering two earned runs on five hits and walking just one.
Niemeyer closed the door in the seventh inning after Huber gave up a lead-off single. Coldwater brought the tying run to the plate before Niemeyer got a groundout and snagged a soft comebacker and threw to first to cinch the game.
Minster catcher Rob Wente made his second circus catch in as many days, Friday night’s snag a sliding grab near the fence with his back to home plate to make the third putout in the top of the second inning.
Minster will play the District 6 champion at Celina on Saturday, July 23 at noon.