St. Marys captures sectional title

ST. MARYS — The St. Marys baseball team hosted its first tournament home game and delivered its first sectional title in a decade on Thursday night at K.C. Geiger Park.

St. Marys’ offense once again overpowered a Western Buckeye League opponent and starting pitcher Nathan Wilker shook off a first inning blip to post six zeroes to end the game as a hearty crowd braved plummeting temperatures to watch St. Marys capture its first sectional baseball title since 2004 with a 9-1 win over the Elida Bulldogs on Thursday.

This is the first year Ohio’s northwest district has featured sectional home games. St. Marys head coach Jeff Dieringer said it was a fitting reward for St. Marys’ great season.

“It’s fantastic,” Dieringer said. “I feel like people around here want to get excited about St. Marys sports and they showed up and supported us despite the cold weather.”

The Roughriders (19-5) will move on to the district semifinal at Bluffton University next Thursday to face fellow WBL foe Lima Bath at 2 p.m. The winner plays the winner of Wapakoneta vs. Tiffin Columbian/Celina on Saturday, May 24 at 2 p.m.

The St. Marys baseball program last reached the district semifinal in 2004, when the Roughriders lost 2-1 to Wapakoneta at Columbus Grove.

Elida scored in the top of the first after a strikeout pitch went to the backstop and a throwing error set up a Max Stambaugh two-out RBI single to right field.

St. Marys tied the game in the bottom of the second off Elida southpaw Adam Purdy. Zack Wilker singled to left to start the inning and Nate Vogel plopped a bunt perfectly down the third base line for a single. Josh Young bunted the runners over and Wilker scored the tying run on a wild pitch.

The Riders went ahead for good in the third. After Tristan Becker drew a lead-off walk and Mason Gross was called out for running inside the baseline after a bunt and a throw that hit him in the upper back, St. Marys dialed up a two-out rally. Isaac Fitzgerald walked to put two on and Zack Wilker delivered a shot over the head of the third baseman down the left field line for an RBI double and a Rider 2-1 lead.

Zack Wilker went 3 for 4 with four runs batted in.

Vogel followed with a rope that sailed over the head of the right fielder for a two-run double.

Vogel went 3 for 3 with a pair of RBIs.

“We’re used to being the team to score first and then they put a run on the board,” Dieringer said. “Zack has come through in big situations this season a lot. That was one of thema nd then Nathan Vogel followed that up with another two-run hit.”

Zack Wilker added an RBI single to left in the bottom of the fifth to extend the lead to 5-1. Following Vogel’s single to right and a pop-out, Colin Burke delivered a key two-out, two-run single to left field to spot the Riders to a 7-1 lead.

St. Marys added two runs in the sixth when Mason Gross reached on an error, Nathan Wilker singled to left and both came around to score. Nathan Wilker finished off his three-hitter without giving up an earned run. He struck out eight and walked three.