DAYTON — The Minster baseball team won at a professional ballpark, something that’s becoming a habit for the decorated group.
The Wildcats, who have gone 4-0 the last two years at Huntington Park in Columbus en route to back-to-back Division IV state championships, jumped out to a six-run lead in the first three innings and cruised to a 9-2 win over St. Marys at Fifth Third Field in Dayton on a sunny, mild Saturday afternoon.
St. Marys vs. Minster baseball photos:
A pair of seniors who already have two state titles under their belt shined on Saturday.
Minster senior and Ohio State recruit Adam Niemeyer took another step forward with five strong innings in his second start. Niemeyer, who was unable to pitch for the entire postseason a season ago, is working his way back into full form from an elbow injury. He gave up two runs to earn the victory.
Minster head coach Mike Wiss likes where the right-hander is in his development and preparation for the Big Ten.
“Right now I’m not going to say Adam is at his top speed right now, but the ability to throw at the next level revolves around being to throw multiple pitches for strikes at any point in the count,” Minster head coach Mike Wiss said. “First day out against Russia he threw three innings and 42 pitches. Today, he got to about 25 in that fifth inning. He might’ve went six if that fifth inning was a little bit quicker. But that’s part of stamina. But he doesn’t need to be a complete-game guy right now.”
Niemeyer struck out nine and walked one in his five innings.
Shortstop Devon Poeppelman, who delivered the state-title winning single in the bottom of the seventh inning last June, went 4-for-4 at the plate in this minor league facility with a double and had two runs batted in.
Like Niemeyer, Minster is off to another strong start to the season at 4-0 as it looks to defend its two straight state championships this season. “It’s been in our court that last few years,” Wiss said. “No one in Minster is going to give that up easily. The kids love coming to the park.”
The game was St. Marys’ first game at the home of the Dayton Dragons. St. Marys head baseball coach Dave Huber said it was a great experience.
“I think the guys really enjoyed it,” Huber said. “Obviously they didn’t like the outcome, but it’s a tremendous facility and the best ballpark we’ve obviously played on.”
St. Marys got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning with a two-run single by Tristan Becker that plated Codie Deaton and Jared Knous. The RBI hit pulled the Roughriders to within 6-2 and pinned a pair of runs on Niemeyer — a pitcher who didn’t allow an earned run all last season.
Minster tacked on three runs in the bottom of the sixth. After a pair of errors put two men on, Minster’s Jay Eilerman doubled home Brad Walterbusch and Brandon Hoying. Andrew Knapke then grounded out to second base to bring Eilerman home to make it 9-2.
“Minster is a very good and seasoned ballclub,”Huber said. “We played a much better game than we did yesterday. I think we’re a much better ballclub than we showed on Friday, but we still have a lot of little things to work on.”
Codie Deaton started the game on the mound for the Roughriders.
St. Marys fell to 0-5 against a tough gauntlet of games against some of the Midwest Athletic Conference’s power teams along with Lima Central Catholic and Bellefontaine.
St. Marys travels to New Bremen tonight at 5 p.m. Minster goes to Wapakoneta in a match-up of teams that both reached the state championship game in their respective divisions. Wapakoneta was the state runner-up in Division II, losing to St. Francis DeSales 3-2 in the title game.
Minster's Devon Poeppelman throws across the diamond from the shortstop position during Minster's 9-2 win over St. Marys on Saturday. (Staff Photo/Brian Smith)