ELIDA – Taking advantage of opportunities is a big key to successful baseball.
Bath not only took advantage of their own opportunities, but, they also managed to take advantage of Van Wert mistakes when it advanced to the state ACME tournament with a 7-0 win in the district championship Monday night at Elida’s Ed Sandy field.
Bath (17-6) used good pitching, timely hitting, and solid defense to get the victory.
The Wildcats advanced through the district without a loss and got three straight complete game pitching efforts on the way to the title.
Bath jumped on Van Wert (15-8) starter Kaleb Fetzer as leadoff hitter Tyler Stahr reached on a two-base error by the Van Wert left fielder. Catcher Cam Jenkins doubled Stahr home and with two outs Andrew Jordan doubled Jenkins home to give Bath a quick 2-0 lead.
Andrew Renner gave up a triple to lead-off hitter Justice Tussing and Van Wert looked ready to get right back into the ball game. The next Van Wert hitter was walked before Renner got out of the inning unscathed thanks to a pop-out to the shortstop and another pop-up that Renner caught and threw to first to double up the runner who had strayed too far from the base.
Renner would settle in and allow only two more hits the rest of the way as he pitched the complete game shut-out.
“That (the complete game) was nice, I tried to throw strikes and let the defense make the plays. They did and we got the shutout.” Renner said. “If they don’t score they can’t win. We look forward to the state tournament and hope to keep playing well.”
Renner threw 94 pitches in the game, 52 for strikes including an 11 pitch at bat in the seventh inning for his only strikeout of the contest.
Bath didn’t exactly tear the cover off the baseball but they did take advantage of every walk and every error that Van Wert committed. The Wildcats added one run in the second and two runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings to put the game away.
Jenkins had two doubles to pace the Bath attack and also recorded two put-outs on pop-outs he was able to track down in foul territory.
Third baseman Jarod Davis had a strong game defensively as he recorded five assists including an inning-ending double play to snuff out a potential Van Wert rally in the fourth inning following two Cougar runners reaching base on walks.
Renner ended the game in style; retiring the side in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings to put an exclamation point on the district title.
“We came out of the gate swinging the bat well. It was probably our best all-around game of the season.” Bath coach John Simindinger said. “Andrew (Renner) does a nice job of mixing his pitches and keeping hitters off-balance; we had good energy today and things went our way.”
Bath will open state tournament play Saturday night at 7:30 when it takes on host Archbold in the double-elimination tournament.