BATH TOWNSHIP – Maumee right-hander Justin Studenka is a big-game pitcher.
He proved that last year in helping Maumee to the Division II state semifinals.
Studenka’s experience showed with a four-hit, 1-0 victory over Bath Wednesday in the Division II baseball sectional opener at Bath.
Studenka was the No. 2 pitcher on Maumee’s state-tournament staff last year and is the team’s ace this year.
“It definitely helps (getting to the state last year) because last year I was extremely nervous coming into last year’s sectional semifinal because I had never pitched in one of them before,” Studenka said. “After last year, this year is a breeze, I guess you could say.’’
Maumee (9-11) advances to the sectional championship game against No.2-seed Defiance at 5 p.m. Friday at Defiance.
Bath is 7-15.
Studenka wasn’t overpowering, but continually pounded the strike zone with his knee-high fastball and breaking ball. He also mixed in a few change-ups.
He went seven innings and gave up four hits. He struck out four and walked none.
“I threw a few change-ups, but mostly I was throwing a curveball,” Studenka said.
Studenka threw 93 pitches, 68 for strikes. He faced 26 batters and threw 14 first-pitch strikes.
“I’m not at all surprised,” Maumee coach Cam Coutcher said. “He did it for us all season and did it for us all last season. The experience he got in tournament play last year is invaluable. Any time he takes the mound all we need is a run or two.
“He’s not overpowering, but he’s an incredible pitcher.’’
The only run of the game came in the first inning off Bath lefty Hunter Iiames.
Caleb Brown opened the game with a double to center.
With one out, Zach Marvin delivered an RBI single to right to give Maumee the 1-0 lead.
That was the last hit Maumee would get the rest of the day. Iiames would allow three more baserunners, two on hit batters and one on a walk.
Iiames also went all seven innings and gave up only two hits and one earned run. He spotted his fastball and breaking ball en route to notching eight strikeouts with one walk.
Iiames threw 111 pitches, 67 for strikes.
Earlier this year, Iiames notched a 2-1 victory over Defiance.
“He’s been our best all year,” Bath coach Brian Jesko said. “Hunter, as he’s done for most of his outings this year, was phenomenal. We couldn’t have asked any more of him in the tournament game today.’’
Bath had the only error of the game and both teams left five on base.
Bath had four runners reach second, but none was able to touch third.
In the third inning, Bath’s Chad Frey doubled with one out. Studenka then got a popout to first and a strikeout to get out of trouble.
“I knew that it was now or never,” Studenka said of the third inning. “I had to keep throwing my pitches.’’
Maumee had a great chance to add to its 1-0 lead in the fifth. Studenka was hit with a pitch, was bunted over to second and took third on a wild pitch.
With Studenka on third and one out, Iiames came up big. He got a strikeout and a groundout to keep the Maumee lead at 1-0.
“We just didn’t have the timely hit,” Jesko said. “We just got beat by a good pitching performance a couple of timely hits.’