Baseball: Lexington surprises Wapakoneta in sectional final

WAPAKONETA — Not many people gave Lexington, a No. 9 seed that finished sixth in its league, much of a chance against No. 2 seeded Wapakoneta, which shared the Western Buckeye League championship, in their Division II baseball sectional final Friday.

Maybe they should have. The Minutemen looked the part of a team that was better than its record when they upset Wapakoneta 6-2 on the Redskins’ home turf.

“Seven of our losses have been by one run and a couple of others were by two runs. In our conference (Ohio Cardinal Conference) we play a lot of Division I schools and we play some D-I schools in non-conference games. So, I think we’re better than our record shows,” Lexington coach Jeff Strickler said.

“We’re starting to put things together and we’ve been slowly doing that over the last couple weeks,” he said. “They know that they can play against anybody. Now we’re starting to get the W’s.”

Wapakoneta led only once in the game. That happened when Zac Niekamp launched a two-run home run over the left-field fence in the home half of the fifth inning to put his team up 2-1.

“That was a huge momentum swing. Zac came up huge there. It was the biggest hit of his career. He absolutely tattooed that,” Wapakoneta coach Jason Brandt said.

Unfortunately for Wapakoneta that momentum had a short shelf life. Lexington sent nine batters to the plate in the top of the sixth inning, scored three runs to take a 4-2 lead and led the rest of the way.

Lexington’s Cooper Dreibelbis, the Minutemen’s No. 2 pitcher, threw a complete game four-hitter. Lexington got seven hits off Wapakoneta pitchers Taylor Echols and Grant Jolly but the damage done by those hits was magnified by the four errors charged to Wapakoneta’s defense.

“It’s disappointing. We didn’t play well defensively today and errors led to their runs. That’s kind of been our downfall this year. When we’ve lost some games this year it’s been because of errors,” Brandt said.

“But one of the other things we’ve done this year is leave runners in scoring position with less than two out and those two things both came back to bite us. During the regular season, it’s not such a big deal. On a day like today when it’s one and done you’ve got to make sure you do your best.

“It happens. That’s baseball. It stinks for our kids because they’ve been really good, we’ve been really good as a team. We’ve done a lot of good things as a team but it is what it is,” he said.

Wapakoneta finished its season 14-6. Lexington is 8-16.

Division II Baseball Sectional final

Lexington 6, Wapakoneta 2

Score by innings

Lexington 010 022 2 — 6 6 2

Wapakoneta 000 020 0 — 2 4 4

WP — Cooper Dreibelbis (7 innings, 7 strikeouts, 4 walks)

LP — Grant Jolly (3 innings, 1 strikeout, 2 walks)

HR — Zac Niekamp (W)

Records: Lexington 8-16; Wapakoneta 14-6.