SPENCERVILLE – A bunt single can sometimes give a team a lift.
Two bunt singles in the same inning can trigger a big inning.
Delphos Jefferson had two bunt hits to lead off the seventh to ignite the Wildcats to a 5-3 baseball victory over Spencerville Monday at Spencerville.
Jefferson scored three in the seventh after the game was tied at 2 after six.
The victory keeps Jefferson (9-6 overall) atop the Northwest Conference at 6-0.
The Wildcats still have NWC games against Bluffton and Crestview. Lincolnview and Crestview both started the day 4-1 in the NWC.
Spencerville is 7-7, 4-2 in the NWC.
The game was tied at 2 entering the seventh, with Jefferson lefty Braxton Scalf and Spencerville right-hander Zach Ringwald both pitching well.
Jefferson’s No. 8 hitter, Darnell Simpson, started the seventh with a perfect bunt single down the third-base line.
Scalf then laid his bunt down between the mound and home. Scalf had the throw from Ringwald clearly beat at first for a hit. Then, when the Spencerville first baseman dropped the throw, Simpson never hesitated and streaked over to third.
That gave Jefferson first and third with no outs.
“I’m not much of a bunter, but I pulled through at the right time,” Simpson said. … Braxton put down another nice bunt and I took advantage of the error (at first).
Jefferson coach Doug Geary added, “It’s something we work on every day. … “Darnell’s our fastest runner and there was an opening at third. He read it perfectly.’’
Conner Anspach’s sacrifice fly to left gave Jefferson a 3-2 lead.
Darius Shurelds grounded an RBI single up the middle, which just eluded Spencerville’s diving shortstop Brady Nolan. That gave Jefferson a 4-2 lead.
Jefferson made it 5-2 when Tyler Shrider reached on an error by the Bearcats second baseman and the right fielder threw wildly to third.
“Small ball killed us in that inning,” Spencerville coach Matt Thompson said. “And they took advantage of our errors.’’
Spencerville got within 5-3 in the home seventh when pinch-hitter Tre Jones doubled to the right-field fence and a wild throw by the right fielder brought home Luke Falke from first.
The sophomore lefty Scalf went all seven innings and gave up three runs, two earned, on seven hits. He struck out five and walked three.
Scalf threw 99 pitches, 60 for strikes.
“His (Scalf’s) mound presence is what we want,” Geary said. “He doesn’t get frustrated if he walks a guy. He comes at you. He was throwing his pitches for strikes.’’
Ringwald continually threw his big breaking ball for strikes in his six innings of work. He gave up five runs, only one earned, on eight hits. He struck out seven and walked one.
Ringwald threw 117 pitches, 80 for strikes.
“He’s (Ringwald) a bulldog on the mound,” Thompson said. “He’s usually around the plate and when he’s commanding that curve and fastball, he’s pretty effective.’’
Jefferson took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on an RBI single to center by Shrider.
Spencerville went ahead 2-1 in the home fourth on a two-run single to left by Falke.
Jefferson tied the game at 2 in the fifth when Anspach scored from third on a wild pitch.
For Jefferson, Hunter Haehn went 2 for 4.
Spencerville’s Cole Market went 2 for 2 with a double. Drake Mertz was 2 for 3. Falke had two RBI.
Jefferson can clinch at least a share for the NWC title with a victory Thursday over Bluffton.