ST. HENRY — Lima Central Catholic and Wapakoneta both rolled to the state championship game last season.
But that was last year.
On Saturday, it was St. Henry that put together the whole package of pitching, defense and key hitting.
St. Henry knocked off LCC 12-3 in the championship game to capture the Redskin Baseball Invitational at the Wally Post Sports Complex.
St. Henry (3-1) went 2-0 for the tournament. LCC (2-2) went 1-1, while Wapakoneta (2-2) went 0-2 for the tourney.
LCC played well in its first game of the day, posting a 9-3 victory over Wapakoneta.
But the T-Birds’ defense broke down in the loss to St. Henry with three costly errors.
“The key to this game is consistency throwing strikes and playing defense,” LCC coach John Schnieders said. “And we did that well for 10 innings and we didn’t do it very well for four (innings), and as a result, we got a split.
“Wapak is probably the best team on our schedule and we got them and we really did outplay them, so I’m proud of our guys for that.”
In LCC’s first game, a 9-3 win over Wapakoneta, right-hander Colin Stolly went five innings and gave up three runs, all earned, on five hits. He struck out five and walked three. Stolly threw 95 pitches, 53 for strikes.
Stolly used his fastball, but turned to his breaking ball and change-up in his last three innings of work.
“I’ve been working all offseason on the curveball. Coach P.J. (Meyer) has been helping me out with it and it’s there and it was working,” Stolly said. “They were starting to time up my fastball a little bit and I started to get a little tired, so offspeed was where to go. They were a great team and hit the ball very well, that’s where the curveball, change-up come in handy.”
At the plate, Stolly went 4 for 4 with two RBIs. For the day, Stolly went 7 for 8, with his only out coming on a screaming liner to third that St. Henry third baseman Ryan Mikesell flagged down.
In the LCC win, Connor Dee went 1 for 2 with two RBIs. Nick Watkins was 1 for 2 with two RBIs.
LCC scored two in the first and added four in the second to grab a 6-1 lead.
Watkins pitched the final two innings, giving up no runs and two hits.
“Colin did great,” Schnieders said. “We thought that combination of Colin and Nick was a nice little change of pace. I thought the second and third time through the order, I thought he (Stolly) did a real good job of mixing speeds and spotting the curveball.
“Offensively, I thought the key was our ability to get down a bunt. All three of our rallies were keyed around executing small ball.”
LCC scored two runs off a squeeze bunt by Watkins, when the bunt was fielded and thrown away for an error. That gave LCC a 9-2 lead in the sixth.
After a lunch break, Watkins turned around and started the championship game against St. Henry, which defeated Wapakoneta 3-1.
LCC led St. Henry 3-1 after three innings. St. Henry scored four in the fourth and was helped by two throwing errors by the LCC third baseman.
Watkins exited after throwing 54 pitches over four innings. He gave up five runs, two earned.
St. Henry scored four in the fifth off LCC reliever Corey O’Dowd to take a 9-3 lead.
For St. Henry, left fielder Garrett Stout went 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Alex Post went 2 for 3 with a triple and three RBIs.
St. Henry right-hander Jeff Paul went the distance by throwing strikes and consistently getting ahead in the count. He gave up three runs, all earned, on eight hits. He struck out two and walked four.
“He mixes speeds, for the most part, he works ahead in the count and doesn’t make a lot of bad pitches up,” St. Henry coach John Dorner said. “He’s just a solid pitcher. He’s a competitor.”
For Wapakoneta, the Redskins didn’t throw their top two pitchers, Johnny Crawford or Chace Culver.
Even with that, the Redskins made five errors and couldn’t connect with the timely hit. In the 3-1 loss to St. Henry, the Redskins had bases loaded and no outs in the seventh and couldn’t push across a run.
“Our defense shot ourselves in the foot both games,” Wapakoneta coach Jason Brandt said. “That’s unacceptable, especially when the errors came on routine plays.”