HAMLER — In baseball, especially in tournament play, a team absolutely must take advantage of scoring opportunities.
Delphos St. John's scored two first inning runs Wednesday but left the bases loaded in the first and second innings and went on to drop a 4-3 Division IV regional semifinal game to Northwood on Thursday at Garrold Parratt Field at Patrick Henry High School.
The Blue Jays (11-15) scored their first inning runs thanks to a Ryan Buescher single, a Troy Warnecke walk, before Clay Courtney was hit by a pitch from Rangers pitcher Nick Russell. A wild pitch allowed Buescher to score and Warnecke would also come in thanks to a Northwood error. Another hit batter loaded the bases but Russell escaped further damage when he recorded the third out on a strike out.
A timely hit in either inning would have given the Blue Jays a big lead but Russell settled in after hitting four Blue Jay hitters in the first two innings.
“We got men on base, we just couldn’t get them around,” Delphos St. John's coach Ryan Warnecke said. “That 2-0 lead encouraged us and gave us confidence. The ball just wasn’t going through.”
Blue Jays' starter Ryan Geise seemed to have trouble adjusting to the mound and struggled throughout the game with control of his pitches.
“Curtis (7-2) just never looked comfortable," Warnecke said. "We knew they could put the ball in play and were also strong defensively.”
Northwood (18-10) would score in the first inning as they also plated a run thanks to a wild pitch to cut the lead to 2-1.
The score would stay that way until the bottom of the fourth inning when Rangers third baseman Justin Rohrs led off the inning with a home run to right field that tied the game at 2-2.
Northwood added to their lead when Rohrs led off the sixth inning and, on the first pitch by Geise, hit his second home run of the game to almost the same spot in right field.
The Rangers added a key insurance run thanks to a single, an error, and two hit batters, which allowed them to score again and take a 4-2 lead to the seventh inning.
St. John's refused to fold and scored once in its final at-bat thanks to a single by Drew Wagner but Russell got the final out on his tenth strike out of the game.
“I’m proud of the kids, they never quit,” Warnecke said. “All the credit goes to them for battling to the end.”
Buescher paced the Blue Jays with two singles but that one key hit they needed to possibly break the game open early eluded them.