HAMLER — When Wapakoneta’s 7-4 win over Maumee in the Patrick Henry Division II baseball district championship game began on Saturday, its pitching depth was a question, with one of its top pitchers shut down for the season and another dealing with shoulder issues.
But by the time the game was over, it was no longer a question. Or at least it was a smaller question.
Junior left-hander Brady Erb, making only his fourth start this season, allowed just one run and four hits in the first six innings. And after a slow start, Wapakoneta’s offense scored in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, with the big blows being a grand slam home run by Don Goodes in the bottom of the sixth and a solo shot by Mitch Apple in the fourth inning.
With the win, Wapakoneta (21-1) will play Oberlin Firelands (24-3) at 2 p.m. Thursday in a regional semifinal at Bowling Green’s Carter Park.
“Brady Erb pitched a hell of a game for us,” Wapakoneta coach Jason Brandt said. “He’s probably only thrown 10 or 11 innings this season but we knew he had the stuff. It’s just that we’ve had other guys we could count on. We knew we could count on Brady and he rose to the occasion and then some.”
Erb struck out four, walked six and allowed five hits. His curve ball was his go-to pitch for strikes for much of the day.
“He kept throwing strikes around the zone and every time he made a mistake he just came back and threw strikes,” catcher Jett Makar said.
Goodes’ home run gave Wapakoneta a 7-1 lead going into the top of the seventh.
After Erb, who had thrown 104 pitches through six innings, gave up a single and a walk to the first two Maumee batters in the seventh inning, Apple came in from shortstop to pitch.
By the time he got the game’s final out on a pop-up to second base, Maumee had scored three times and had the bases loaded. But Wapakoneta held on to earn a trip to the regional.
Maumee (13-12) knocked Wapakoneta out of the postseason last year in the district championship game when the Redskins were ranked No. 1 in the state in Division II, as they were this season.
Goodes, whose family moved to Wapakoneta this season, wasn’t there for last year’s game. But it was a topic of conversation for the team, he said.
“We definitely talked about it. Coming in, the guys really wanted to make a statement this year and end on a good note. I think we did it. We wanted to produce, we wanted to work behind our pitcher, and our pitcher worked for us. And we were hitting,” he said.
Maumee took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a walk, a sacrifice bunt, a wild pitch and a throwing error.
Wapakoneta tied the game in the third inning on singles by Joel Roediger and Goodes and the first of Manny Vorhees’ two doubles in the game.
Maumee threatened to go ahead in the top of the fourth but Goodes threw a perfect strike from center field to Makar after a single by Devon Schiavone, and Makar put the tag on runner Justin Studenka to end the inning.
Wapakoneta scored in the bottom of that inning on a single by Makar off the third baseman’s glove to go up 2-1 and made it 3-1 on Apple’s third home run of the season in the fifth inning.
“I think we were a little tight today. About the fifth inning we talked about being a little more relaxed. They kind of smiled in the huddle. That might be all it took,” Brandt said.