CELINA — Minster’s hopes for an ACME state title found a roadblock in the personage of Vandalia Butler catcher Lance Straley.
Minster had the tying run thrown out at the plate and bowed out of the state ACME tournament with a 3-2 loss to Vandalia Butler on Friday night.
Minster (17-8) appeared to be on the verge of evening the score and seizing the momentum in the loser’s bracket game when Ethan Wolf lined a single into centerfield with runners on first and second with two outs in the top of the sixth.
But Vandalia Butler centerfielder Austin Craine snagged the ball off the first bounce, took a crow hop and fired a one-bounce strike to Vandalia Butler standout catcher Straley, who blocked the plate and tagged out Minster pinch runner Jacob Wuebker on the helmet to end the rally.
“We got our shot,” Minster coach Scott Sherman said. “We got the two-out hit we needed, just the kid came up throwing, the catcher blocked the plate nicely and that was that.”
Sherman said it was a no-brainer to send the runner with two outs, a fast runner on second and a 3-2 count that allowed the runner to get an early start on the pitch.
“Absolutely, there was a full count so he was already moving,” Sherman said. “You pretty much make up your mind before the kid even hits the ball that no matter what you have to make them make a play. Again, they did a phenomenal job in the field, not just on that play but all night.”
Minster drew to within one run in the sixth on a bizarre RBI putout. After Austin Knapke opened the sixth by being hit by a pitch and Adam Niemeyer lined out to second, Doug Huber singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Wuebker came in to pinch run for Huber.
Minster’s Rob Wente lined the ball into right field, where Vandalia right fielder Travis Mullins threw to first base to get Wente for the 9-3 putout. Knapke scored on the out to make the game 3-2, setting up the game-changing out at the plate.
The Wildcats loss’ ended their hopes of being the fourth team in Ohio history to win both a state title in the spring and the ACME season, but Minster ACME coach Scott Sherman said his team showed amazing perseverance to follow up a long spring season with a third-place showing at state in the summer.
“Success is contagious,” Sherman said. “Once you win, you want to keep winning. I give this group of kids a bunch of credit. They came out almost every night this summer and gave it their all and did an unbelievable job. I’m sure they’ll be just fine in the spring.”
Minster missed a few key pieces in its line-up on Friday night, making hits and runs hard to come by.
“We battled,” Shermansaid. “We didn’t exactly have the line-up we had to get here, but we came out and fought.”
Minster struck first in the game. Doug Huber scored from second base on an error by Vandalia Butler on a ground ball off the bat of Ethan Wolf to go up 1-0 in the second inning.
Huber finished the game 2 for 3 for Minster, reaching base all three times he hit.
Vandalia took the lead for good in the bottom of the third on a two-run single by Kevin Brackman to bring in Pete Yorgan and Straley.
Vandalia added what proved to be the winning run in the fifth on a groundball off the bat of Kyle Britton that was mishandled by the Wildcats for an error that made it 3-1.
Vandalia left 10 runners on base. Minster stranded five runners, despite collecting just four hits. Three Minster batters got on-base via hit by pitches.
Doug Huber took the loss on the mound for Minster, going the distance on the mound and striking out one while walking five. He gave up three earned runs on six hits.
Vandalia used a combination of Josh Edwards (5 2-3 innings, two runs on three hits) and Eric Hansman.
VANDALIA BUTLER 3
WP — Edwards LP — Huber SV — Hansman
Minster battery named all tournament
Minster pitcher Doug Huber and catcher Rob Wente were named to the ACME state all-tournament team on Saturday.
Huber threw an opening game one-hit shutout while striking out 10 batters in Minster’s 1-0 win over Springfield on July 23. He then threw six innings on Friday against Vandalia, giving up three runs.
Wente started all four games of the state tourney behind the plate for Minster and was a steady performer in the middle of the line-up and from the catching spot.
Minster won the first two games of the tournament before losing on Wednesday and Friday to bow out with a third-place finish.
Bowling Green won the state ACME title on Saturday with a 5-3 win over Vandalia Butler. Bowling Green did not lose in the tournament and won its first ACME title. The Bobcats were runner-up in 1998.
The Bobcats’ Mason Mayberry won the MVP award of the tourney. Mayberry went 2-0 on the mound and hit .400 in four games in Celina last week.