OTTOVILLE — One inning got in the way of calling this a classic pitcher’s battle.
That was the inning Kalida took advantage of Ottoville pitcher Zane Martin struggling to throw strikes.
Kalida scored five in the second and posted a 5-0 victory over Ottoville to wrap up the Putnam County League baseball title outright Thursday at Ottoville.
“This means a lot for this program,” Kalida pitcher Owen Recker said. “It’s not easy and there are a lot of good teams you have to beat.’’
Kalida is 12-6 and ends it PCL season 7-0. Ottoville is 8-7, 3-2 in the PCL.
Kalida right-hander Owen Recker (5-0) fired a three-hit shutout. He went all seven innings, with 11 strikeouts and six walks.
Recker threw 125 pitches, 74 for strikes.
Recker also went 2 for 4 at the plate.
It was a great battle between the junior Recker, who is headed to Kent State, and Martin, who will pitch at Bluffton next year.
In spite of a tough second inning, Martin went the distance and struck out 15.
He gave up five runs, all earned, on six hits. He walked four and hit four batters.
From the third to the seventh innings, Martin threw his breaking ball and fastball consistently for strikes. He threw 120 pitches, 80 for strikes.
And 65 of those pitches came in the first two innings.
“That’s a heck of pitcher (Martin) and we were lucky he wasn’t as sharp early and we were able to jump on him and take advantage,” Kalida coach Joe Recker said. “He had 15 strikeouts? He’s a heck of a pitcher.’’
Added Ottoville coach Ty Wannemacher said, “His control wasn’t there (early) and it was all his adrenaline. But once he settled in, he was on. He was placing everything and his curveball was there.
“Once that second inning was over, he came out boom, boom, boom and struck them out. … He was going 125 (pitches) no matter what because I knew once he got in that groove like he did, he’s a dangerous pitcher.’’
In the second inning, Martin walked two, hit a batter and gave up four hits.
Josh Klausing started the second with a single. Zach vonder Embse also singled. Klausing came home on a wild pitch and it was 1-0 Kalida.
Tyler Klausing’s RBI double to center gave Kalida a 2-0 lead.
Trevor Lambert walked with the bases loaded and it was 3-0.
Gabe Hovest reached on a fielder’s choice RBI and it was 4-0. Josh Klausing, in his second at-bat of the inning, walked with the bases loaded to make it 5-0.
Martin was a completely different pitcher the rest of the way, pounding the zone with his breaking ball and fastball.
Over the final five innings, he gave up one hit and struck out 11.
Recker didn’t have his usual high 80s-mph velocity, but he found ways to get the Big Green out.
“Owen’s arm has been a little tired the last week. He goes through that little bit of a dead-arm period,” Kalida coach Recker said. “He doesn’t have the pop and he doesn’t have the crispness, but he’s a gamer. He’ll battle and I couldn’t get the ball out of his hand.
“Good pitchers find a way to win when they don’t have their best stuff and that was him today.’’
Ottoville’s Andy Schimmoeller led off the home first with an infield single, which bounced off Recker’s foot.
Recker didn’t allow another hit until the seventh.
But in the seventh, Recker was clearly tiring. He gave up two singles and walk to load the bases with two outs.
He then struck out Clayton Schnipke to end it on pitch No. 125.
“I was a little tired but I wanted to finish that game,” Recker said. “I wasn’t going to let him take the ball out of my hand until I was at the max pitch count (125). I really wanted it and we got it.’’
Both teams played errorless ball.
“I’m very proud of my team,” coach Recker said of Kalida’s third straight title. “We have so many young guys on this team. We have only two seniors. We’ve taken our lumps in some games, but it seems in PCL games our guys really show up and make a lot of good defensive plays.’’
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