BOWLING GREEN — Two key injuries have pushed Wapakoneta right-hander Gage Schenk to the top of the pitching rotation.
And no one was more ready for the move than Schenk.
Schenk fired a five-inning, 12-0 shutout to power Wapakoneta past Oberlin Firelands in the Division II baseball regional semifinals Thursday afternoon at Carter Park.
The right-handed Schenk gave up only three hits. He struck out nine and walked two.
Schenk (8-0) relied heavily on his 90 mph fastball, along with mixing in his breaking ball. He threw 78 pitches, 47 for strikes.
“My arm was feeling great today,” Schenk said. “I had them off-balance with the curveball and my fastball was working real well.’’
Schenk said he was ready to take the ball when arm injuries hit the team’s top two starters.
“I love the challenge,” Schenk said. “I like having the ball in my hand.’’
Added Wapak coach Jason Brandt, “Gage Schenk is a battler. We can call him our one, our two or our three. Unfortunately, for us, we lost two of those guys so Gage had to go today. He was commanding his fastball and his offspeed pitches were really good.
“Gage is a bulldog. He wants the ball and he wants the chance to shove it down the other team’s throat.’’
Wapakoneta (22-1) will meet Ontario (25-3) at 1 p.m. Sunday for the regional championship at Carter Park. The game was moved due to graduation conflicts. Firelands is 24-4.
In the second regional semifinal, Ontario defeated Lakewood 2-1.
The Redskins knocked out 11 hits, including two doubles and a triple. Once on the bases, they ran at will, stealing five bases, including home.
Firelands helped out the Redskins with three errors and let a routine fly drop in center field when two outfielders looked at each other instead of taking charge.
For Wapak, VMI-bound Don Goodes went 2 for 4 with a triple and two RBI.
“There’s never a dull moment with this team,” Goodes said of the team’s chemistry. “Today we got (stick-on) tattoos before the game.’’
Manny Vorhees was 2 for 2 with two doubles and three stolen bases, including home. Bubba Miller went 1 for 2 with two RBI.
A.J. Campos had a double and two RBI.
“Our kids had great approaches at the plate,” Brandt said.
The Redskins scored one in the first when Firelands starting right-hander Evan Lacey walked three in the inning. When he walked Schenk with the bases loaded, home came Vorhees, who reached on an error, and it was 1-0.
Wapak added three in the second to take a 4-0 lead.
Joel Roediger was hit with a pitch and stole second. Goodes launched an RBI triple to the right-field fence and it was 2-0.
Goodes was coming off an injured wrist in the district tournament.
“I got a little more spin on it,” Goodes said of his triple.
Goodes came home when Moyler hit a ball to third and the Firelands third baseman couldn’t handle it for an error. That made it 3-0.
Mitch Apple’s RBI single to left in the second made it 4-0.
The Redskins added four more in the third to take an 8-0 lead.
In the third, Goodes had an RBI single to make it 5-0. Moyler’s RBI single kicked the margin to 6-0.
Vorhees scored from third on a wild pitch and it was 7-0.
Miller’s sacrifice fly gave the Redskins an 8-0 lead.
In the fifth, Vorhees stole home when Firelands lefty reliever Jacob Newman lobbed a pickoff attempt to first to try to get Moyler, who had singled.
Vorhees broke home and scored standing up without a throw, as the first baseman took the pickoff throw with his back to the plate.
That was the cherry on top for the Redskins.
“I told Manny, with the lefty pitcher, he had to step off to throw,” Brandt said. “So if he goes to first, I told him he had to be moving toward the plate. Manny read it perfectly and just kept going. They didn’t even have a throw. I didn’t tell him to go, but to move toward the plate. It was his call. He can be aggressive. It’s an eight-run lead at the time.’’
Wapak catcher Jett Makar chipped in by throwing out both runners who tried to steal second base on him.
Schenk went to the top of the rotation this week with Roediger out for the year with a sprained right elbow ligament. Vorhees (sore right shoulder) is day-to-day.
“I know I have great guys behind me and a great offense,” Schenk said.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.