KALIDA — Kalida right-hander Owen Recker was nearly out of gas at the end.
But he was able to find another gear for the final two hitters and closed it out.
Recker battled to the end and gave Kalida a 3-2 Putnam County League baseball victory Thursday against Fort Jennings at Holy Name Field.
It was by far the best day of the spring, with sunny skies and 74 degrees, although there was a 24 mph wind.
Kalida is 6-2, 3-0 in the PCL. Fort Jennings is 5-5 and 0-2 in the PCL.
Recker found himself in stressful situations most of the day, but usually found a way out of it with his breaking ball.
He had only two 1-2-3 innings. Fort Jennings left eight on base.
“It wasn’t my best stuff, but we hit and got the runs we needed, made the plays when they counted and came out with the ‘W.’ That’s all that matters,’’ Recker said. “I couldn’t get ahead with my fastball and had to rely on my offspeed a lot.’’ Kalida coach Joe Recker said, “He didn’t (have his best stuff). It’s been 10 days since he pitched. He was rusty and it’s only his second start. I give him a lot of credit. He had to rely heavy on his secondary pitches because he was having trouble locating his fastball.’’
In the seventh, Fort Jennings scored an unearned run to get within 3-2. The Musketeers had runners at second and third with one out.
Recker struck out Fort Jennings’ No. 3-hitter Brandon Wehri, then struck out No. 4-hitter Kyle Norbeck on a 3-2, knee-high fastball to end it.
“I went back to my bread and butter (fastball),” Recker said.
Coach Recker said, “He tends to really lock down, concentration-wise, when he has to.’’
Recker gave up two runs, one earned, on five hits in his seven innings of work. He struck out 13 and walked three.
The junior Recker, who has committed to Kent State, threw 106 pitches, 68 for strikes.
He struck out 15 in his only other appearance, a win over Miller City. On that day, his fastball was hitting 90 mph.
Recker’s fastball was darting around the strike zone at about 85 to 87 mph on Thursday.
“I had to take some off (my fastball) every batter, because when I was throwing hard I wasn’t getting ahead,” Recker said. “The breaking ball was as good as it’s been in a while so that helped a lot.’’
The right-handed Wehri was also throwing hard and mixed in his breaking ball. He went six innings and gave up three runs, all earned, on three hits. He struck out nine and walked three.
Wehri threw 100 pitches, 57 for strikes.
“It was a great battle,” Fort Jennings coach Matt Dube said. “It was a good ballgame. He (Wehri) battled. He dug deep in the last inning and kept us in the game.’’
Owen Recker went 2 for 3 with a double. Kalida’s Josh Recker had a double and two RBI.
Fort Jennings’ Aaron Kloeppel was 2 for 3.
Fort Jennings took a 1-0 lead in the first.
Recker hit the Musketeers’ leadoff batter Aaron Sealts. Sealts stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and came home on and RBI single to left by Wehri.
Kalida used two big bunts and a key hit to score three in the fourth.
Owen Recker led off the fourth with the Wildcats’ first hit, a parachute single to right-center field. Trevor Lambert walked.
Luke Erhart bunted both runners over to second and third.
Kevin Hamburg then put down a perfect safety squeeze to score Recker and tie the game at 1.
“That was huge,” coach Recker said. “He executed to perfection.’’
Josh Recker, Owen’s cousin, then hit a two-run double to right-center field. That gave Kalida a 3-1 lead.
But it was hardly easy waters the rest of the way for Recker.
The Musketeers loaded the bases in the fifth with two outs.
But once again it was Recker, who came up with the strikeout on a breaking ball to end the Musketeers’ threat.
“Tip your hat to him,” Dube said of Recker.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.
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