Facing elimination against Elida in the District 4 ACME tournament Sunday, Van Wert needed a big pitching performance if the Cougars wanted to keep their dreams of making the state tournament alive.
Van Wert got that and more after hurler Hayden Maples fired a one-hit shutout to help them defeat Elida, 12-0, to set up a match-up against unbeaten Shawnee at 6 p.m. today. Van Wert would need to beat Shawnee twice to advance to state. If Van Wert wins today the two teams would square off at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
There was no indication Maples would toss a gem after working his way out of trouble in the first two frames where he got a little help from his defense. But after the second frame, the Van Wert righty was dominating by allowing four base runners and none got to second.
Maples no-hitter was broken up with the first batter in the seventh but the next batter lined out and Van Wert doubled up the runner on first for the double play. For the game Maples fanned five and walked four. He hit two Elida batters.
“He worked around four walks and a couple of hit batters but we played good defense behind him and he pounded the zone after we got up early,” Van Wert head coach Todd Dunlap said.
While Maples was mowing down Elida, the Van Wert pitcher was getting plenty of run support and it began in the first inning when the Cougars scored three runs. The highlight was a two-run double by T.J. Reynolds.
Reynolds would figure in much of Van Wert’s scoring as he scored the lone run in the third and had drove in another run in the four-run fourth. Reynolds, who was hit by a pitch in the seventh, scored one of the three runs in the seventh. For the game, he went 3-5 with two RBI and three runs scored.
For the game, Van Wert pounded out 13 hits.
“The last couple of games we have left 11 and 12 men on base, respectively, and today we had a few more timely hits and we didn’t leave as many on base,” Dunlap said. “We pride ourselves on scoring every inning and we almost did that.”
Errors, that plagued Elida in its loss to Shawnee on Saturday, continued to haunt the Bulldogs when they committed five errors against Van Wert.
Dunlap understands his team is facing an uphill battle trying to beat Shawnee twice over the next two days but after a game like the one against Elida, he is optimistic about his team’s chances.
“We are confident,” Dunlap said. “We didn’t play the best Friday night but they are a quality team and we will come ready to play.”