ST. MARYS — Minster got two solid pitching performances to help propel the Wildcats to a doubleheader sweep of St. Marys on a blustery Saturday. Minster won the first game, 13-0 and followed it up with an 8-2 victory in the second game.
Minster improves to 3-0 on the season and St. Marys falls to 0-3 on the year.
Wildcat hurler Noah Enneking, making his season debut, got the first game win after pitching four innings of shutout ball. The junior right hander scattered four hits while striking out three and walking none. Austin Brown pitched the final fifth frame and despite giving up a lead-off single got out of the inning when, with one out, second baseman Alex Lehmkuhl made a tremendous diving catch and then fired to first to double off the runner at first to end the game.
Minster head coach Mike Wiss said probably the most important thing in a double header is to get a quality start in one of the games and he got two.
“This was Noah’s first varsity start as a junior and Jack (Heitbrink) pitched for us last year,” Wiss said. “I was very happy with those guys. I am not going to say they were always ahead in the count but they were always around the zone. One comment I always make is never the same pitch in the same spot twice and we were pretty consistent there.”
St. Marys starter Braeden Dunlap, who Rider head coach Jeff Dieringer said was a bright spot, matched his Minster counterpart on the mound for the first three innings, but in the fourth the Wildcat bats came alive.
In that fourth frame, the Wildcats would score eight times and while Minster tagged Dunlap for three hits, he got hurt by three fielding errors that helped open the offensive flood gates. The big blow in the inning came off the bat of Jack Olberding who had a bases clearing double to drive in three.
Minster would tack on five more in the top of the fifth to limit the game due to the run rule. In that frame, Alex Lehmkuhl hit a triple and Jared Huelsman added a double.
“I think it took us one time through the order offensively to get the feel and then we swung the bats pretty well in both games,” Wiss said. “I was pleased we won the first one in a convincing manner and didn’t fall back on our heels in the second one because of how the first one ended.”
Dunlap finished the day going giving up six hits while fanning seven and walking two.
Not to be outdone in the second game, Jack Heitbrink picked up the after going six innings while surrendering one run on two hits while striking out six and walking one. The Wildcat southpaw pitched no-hit ball for five innings until the the sixth inning when Ty Howell ripped a two-out single up the middle. Howell’s base hit was followed by a double from Austin Wilker that led to the Riders’ first run of the day.
Lehmkuhl relieved Heitbrink in the seventh and the Riders manufactured a run but the Wildcat pitcher shut the door to complete the sweep.
Not to be overshadowed in the second game was Minster’s offense that scored runs in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings. Oberding once again came through by driving in three runs on two hits and Jared Huelsman had a solo shot to highlight a four-run fifth.
“For the first weekend of the year in always questionable weather in the St. Marys double header to be 3-0 is good,” Wiss said. “There is still room to get better but I like where we are at.”
On the other side, Dieringer said his team lacked any time of energy and it showed in the two losses.
“I certainly give them (Minster) a ton of credit,” Dieringer said. “I think Mike’s team always play hard with enthusiasm and they play the game the right way. I thought we didn’t ourselves any favors on the mound with 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 counts all day where their approach is that they can sit on fastballs and do something with it. When we were fortunate to get in those counts we took a lot of those pitches or weren’t aggressive with those pitches from hitting standpoint that was the difference for us.”
Dieringer added his team did not play with a lot of enthusiasm and that needs to change as they face a tough schedule this week.
“I think we went through the motions and it is frustrating to see that at this point in the season,” Dieringer said. “I thought Dunny (Dunlap) competed in the first game and I thought he was one of the few bright spots as a competitor for the first game and a few other guys are competing but I think it was one of those days where the energy wasn’t where it needed to and the enthusiasm wasn’t where it needed to be and what I take away from these games is that we need to work on that.”
It doesn’t get much easier for the Riders this week as Dieringer called a murderer’s row of a schedule when they face Defiance, Wapakoneta, New Bremen and Versailles.