WAPAKONETA — Devon Poeppelman’s bat had a lot to do with with Minster winning the 2012 Division IV state championship.
This year his right arm will play a big part, as well.
Poeppelman fired a complete-game 8-4 non-league victory over Wapakoneta Monday at Wapakoneta.
Outside of a rough first inning, in which Minster made three errors, Poeppelman had the Redskins off balance with his breaking ball, knuckler and 82 mph fastball. In seven innings, he gave up six hits on four runs, one earned. He struck out seven and walked four. Poeppelman (1-0) threw 123 pitches, 70 for strikes.
Four of his strikeouts came in the last two innings when his sidearm curve was darting and winding its way to the plate.
“Devon pitching an outstanding game,” Minster coach Mike Wiss said. “It got to the point where his curveball got better. … He was definitely on the corners in the sixth and seventh innings.”
Minster graduated standout pitchers Doug Huber and Austin Knapke, but does return ace Adam Niemeyer. Poeppleman went 5 for 7 with five RBIs at the state tournament last year, but will be one of the keys to the rotation this year.
“He wanted the baseball and I kept asking him after four innings, five innings and six innings how he felt and he said, ‘Coach, I’m fine.’ It was a warm day and he said he felt fine.”
Poeppelman said, “I did have a knuckleball and the wind helped it out a little bit and made it dance a little bit more. I was just happy I could throw it for strikes.”
Two-time defending state champion Minster is 5-0. Wapakoneta reached the Division II state championship game last year, but is 2-3.
It was the third straight loss for Wapakoneta, including going 0-2 in the Redskin Baseball Invitational at St. Henry on Saturday. Over those last three games, the Redskins have made 11 errors. On Monday, they made six errors, leading to six unearned runs.
“Six errors and a passed ball-strikeout and two earned runs is totally unacceptable,” Wapakoneta coach Jason Brandt said.
Redskins starter Chace Culver deserved a lot better. He went 4.1 innings and gave up five runs, two earned, on three hits. He struck out five and walked one. Culver threw 90 pitches, 52 for strikes.
The Redskins took a 4-0 lead in the first when Minster committed all three of its errors. Brandon Miller’s two-run double gave the Redskins a 3-0 lead.
“In the first inning we had the pedal to the metal and then just let up,” Brandt said.
Culver retired the first eight batters he faced, five on strikeouts. But Minster’s Max Huber reached on an error with two out in the third. Jay Eilerman walked and Brandon Hoying reached on an error to make it 4-1. Eilerman came home on a wild pitch and it was 4-2.
In the fourth, Minster scored three runs with Wapakoneta helping out with three errors, a hit batter and a strikeout/wild pitch. Clay Brown’s two-run homer to right tied the game at 4.
Hoying reached on an error on the third baseman, which scored another run to give Minster the lead to stay, 5-4.
Shawnee comes to Wapakoneta today to kick off the Western Buckeye League season. The pitching matchup will be between two of the top pitchers in Ohio, Shawnee’s Cory Wilder against Wapakoneta’s Johnny Crawford.
Brandt said the pitching matchup won’t matter if his team doesn’t play better defense.
“Right now there’s a lot of high expectations,” he said. “The good teams are how you can deal with success and right now we aren’t dealing real well with our past success. We have to look forward to see what we’re made of.”