MINSTER — Adam Niemeyer has another gear to kick into for the postseason.
The Minster senior pitched his first high school no-hitter and struck out 18 Marion Local batters in an overpowering performance as the state’s top-ranked Wildcats beat the Flyers 4-0 in a Division IV sectional title game on Wednesday.
A season after he was limited in his pitching during the tournament because of arm issues, the Ohio State signee returned to tournament action on the mound with a gem.
Wielding a power fastball, a hard sharp curveball and a change-up, Niemeyer struck out nine of the first 10 batters he faced. He got 12 Flyers swinging and six looking.
“As the game went along, I started getting ahead of batters more, locating my offspeed pitches for strikes and it’s always good when you have a good defense behind you to give you a lot of confidence that they’re going to make those plays behind you,” Niemeyer said.
Minster advances to the Coldwater district, where the Wildcats will play the winner of tonight’s Crestview-Fort Jennings game on Wednesday, May 22 at 4:30 p.m.
Minster has now won 15 straight games in the OHSAA tournament.
Niemeyer struck out the side in the first, third, fourth and seventh innings as the Wildcats began their tournament that they hope ends with a third straigtht state championship in Division IV.
“About the third inning I started throwing my curveball for strikes,” Niemeyer said. “That gave me a lot of confidence knowing I could get those pitches over. When I get those across, it makes my fastball look faster.”
Only two Flyers reached base — Austin Albers on an error and Ethan Nietfeld with a hit by pitch in the top of the fourth inning. That set up a first and third jam with two outs that Niemeyer escaped with a strikeout.
Minster beat Marion Local for the second time in as many nights. A night after the Wildcats clinched a share of the Midwest Athletic Conference title with a 20-6 win, Minster won a sectional championship in a much lower-scoring game.
The Wildcats scored two runs in each of the first two innings.
Jay Eilerman led off the bottom of the first inning with a single. He stole to second and moved to third on an error. He trotted home on a sacrifice fly to medium center field by Niemeyer. Andrew Knapke then scored on a wild pitch.
Minster added two more runs in the second. Brandon Hoying walked. J.R. Nixon then doubled to left field, allowing Hoying to score. Two batters later, Eilerman drove in the fourth and final run with a single through the box.
Eilerman went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Andrew Knapke, Ethan Wolf, Brandon Hoying, J.R. Nixon and Josh Nixon all added hits for Minster.
Minster couldn’t add any more runs, stranding runners in three of their next four at-bats. But with the way Niemeyer was pitching, it didn’t matter.
The inability to add on frustrated Minster head coach Mike Wiss a little.
“We did some uncharacteristic things on the basepaths,” Wiss said. “In two innings, we had four flyballs in the infield. We have some things we need to sure up.”
On the first hot day of the season, Niemeyer worked through the challenge.
“It takes a toll on your body and then after four or five innings it takes a toll on the mind,” Wiss said. “But Adam came in after every inning and said he was fine, that it was just hot. We talked about rolling his hips a little more to get more legs into it and I could really see he did that in the last inning to try to help himself.”
The biggest roadblock Niemeyer may have had was the first at-bat of the game, when Marion Local’s Dustin Rethman saw 10 pitches before striking out.
“Marion did a good job of making Adam throw a lot of pitches early,” Wiss said.
WP — Niemeyer LP — Rethman