BLUFFTON – Ottoville senior pitcher Nick Moorman has seen the old “rundown play” a time or two over the years. In fact, Ottoville has it in its playbook.
So Moorman simply stepped off the mound and snuffed out the Bluffton attempt at a rundown at first/score from third and returned to mowing down hitters.
Moorman fired a complete-game, 3-0 shutout over Bluffton in baseball Wednesday at Bluffton.
Ottoville is 3-2. Bluffton is 2-4.
Moorman had the benefit of pitching on a rare 61-degree day and he took full advantage. He threw his curveball for strikes early and was locked in the rest of the day.
“It was a nice change of pace,” Moorman said of the best weather of the spring. “The warmer weather really helps a pitcher out. It helps, not only getting loose, but staying loose.’’
Moorman went all seven innings, giving up three hits. He struck out 10 and walked two.
Moorman threw 98 pitches, 70 for strikes.
“That’s a pitch (the breaking ball) I worked on in the offseason,” Moorman said. “Having it now is a big help.’’
Ottoville coach Ty Wannemacher said, “This is the hardest he’s (Moorman) thrown. And right from the get-go, his command was there. Getting the curveball across has been an issue and he didn’t have a problem today. He was getting ahead of the batters. That was the main thing. This was probably the best he’s thrown since his sophomore year.’’
Moorman’s heads-up play, defensively, came in the fourth inning when Bluffton had runners at first and third with two out.
Bluffton sent the pinch-runner on first in hopes of getting in rundown, so the runner on third could score while the Ottoville defense was preoccupied.
Moorman wasn’t fooled.
He calmed stepped off the rubber, ran a few steps at the pinch-runner, then fired to shortstop Andy Schimmoeller, who applied the tag on the runner coming into second base.
“It was great communication by our teammates,” Moorman said. “All at once, they said, ‘Step off.’ So I stepped off and threw to second just as we practiced. … We try to do that sometimes, too.’’
Moorman also led the way at the plate for the Big Green, going 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Bluffton right-hander Cole Fruchy threw well for the Pirates. He worked 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs, all unearned, on four hits. He struck out four and walked one.
Fruchy threw 87 pitches, 52 for strikes.
Evan Mayden came on and threw the final 1 2/3 shutout, no-hit innings for Bluffton.
“I was hoping to get three innings out of Cole and he gave me almost six,” Bluffton coach Mason Roth said. “This is only the second varsity game he’s ever pitched. This was Evan’s first game. They showed me that they can throw a good ballgame.’’
Ottoville took advantage of two Bluffton errors in the third inning and scored three unearned runs. But the Big Green also had a few key hits in the inning.
Brice Schroeder started the third by reaching on an error on the Bluffton third baseman.
Logan Kemper singled to center. Schimmoeller bunted the runners over to second and third.
Clayton Schnipke lifted a towering popup into shallow left field. Bluffton shortstop Braeden Edwards went out and made a sliding grab with his back to the plate. Schroeder was able to score from third on the sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.
Dylan Kemper walked. Josh Thorbahn followed with an RBI single to right to make it 2-0.
Moorman’s RBI single behind second base made it 3-0.
Bluffton had its chances, but the Pirates left seven on base.
Each time the Pirates had runners on, including a leadoff double in the sixth by Dakota Bricker, Moorman just pounded the strike zone with his two pitches.
And that was it.