LIMA – Crestview struggled with two-out hitting.
No. 1 seed Elida made the Knights pay with its timely hitting, en route to an 8-2 victory in opening-round action Friday of the ACME District 5 baseball tournament at Lima Central Catholic’s Players Field.
Crestview stranded 11 base runners, as Elida starting pitcher Luke Berger managed to work his way out of several jams.
Berger scattered five base hits, while striking out six batters, walking nine and throwing 109 pitches in his five-plus innings of work. Berger was replaced in the sixth inning by Drew Biglow, who closed out the game for Elida.
With the win, Elida (12-2) will play around 12:30 p.m. today in the winners’ bracket of the double-elimination tournament at LCC.
In Friday’s second game, Shawnee was leading Van Wert 6-5 through six innings, before the game was suspended due to darkness. Shawnee (7-4) and Van Wert (15-4) will pick up where they left off at 10 a.m. today. Then, the winner of that contest will face Elida in today’s second game. The loser of the Shawnee/Van Wert matchup will play Crestview (10-6), following the completion of that game.
“He did struggle there a little bit,” Elida coach Jared Blymyer said about Berger’s pitching performance on Friday. “But, when he needed to get an out, he made an out. That’s how he’s been the whole summer.”
For the game, Elida pounded 14 hits off Crestview pitching.
“We were pretty aggressive up there – a lot of first-pitch hitting,” Blymyer said. “If you’re aggressive, it usually pays off. We had a lot of line drive shots for base hits; and we were aggressive on the base paths. Overall, we’re pretty happy.”
Berger helped his cause at the plate, going 3 for 4 with two doubles and four RBI.
“I think the first three pitches he (Berger) saw today he had base hits,” Blymyer said. “That just shows how good he is at the plate too.”
After Elida scored a run in the bottom of the first inning – on an RBI double by Berger – the Bulldogs added five more runs in the second on six hits. Berger had a double that drove in two of those runs. Max Parker (3 for 4) had an RBI single and TJ Whipple drove in two more runs with a single.
Jordan Davis and Matt Fish each had two hits for Elida on the night.
Crestview finally got on the board in the top of the third, scoring two runs on three hits. However, the Knights left three base runners stranded in the third. Crestview also left the bases loaded in the fourth.
“The big key was we left 11 guys on base,” Crestview coach Jeff Helm said. “We couldn’t come up with a two-out hit at crucial times of the game. Looking back, if we would have just come up with a hit here and there with two outs, it might be a different game. But, it’s a credit to their pitcher. He did a great job of working out of those situations and we just couldn’t put the ball in play when we needed to.”
Elida added two more runs in the third on just two hits.
Kole Small started on the mound for Crestview. Small worked 2 2/3 innings before being lifted for Carson Kreischer.
Small was tabbed for all eight runs on nine hits. Small struck out three and walked three.
Kaden Short came in on relief for Crestview in the fifth and closed the game out.
For Crestview, battling back in the losers’ bracket isn’t anything new. The Knights played through the losers’ bracket at its sectional, en route to finishing second.
“It was a good effort out of the kids,” Helm said. “It’s nothing new to the kids – of coming through the losers’ bracket. It’s tougher competition and it’s time to see what we can do here.”
Blymeyer said winning the first game of the tournament is crucial.
“It’s big. Now you can be safe on pitching for later games, if needed,” he said.
HAMLER — Ottawa-Glandorf defeated host Patrick Henry 5-1 and Archbold topped Kalida 10-0.
Today, Archbold plays O-G at noon followed by Patrick Henry and Kalida at 2:30 p.m.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.