VAN WERT — Even when Van Wert fell behind Delphos St. John’s 3-0 early in a non-league high school baseball game on Saturday, the Cougars’ coach Charlie Witten felt good about his team’s chances.
The Cougars vindicated that trust with a pair of big innings that produced an 11-5 win, which was their fourteenth victory in 17 games.
“Offensively, we had a good approach. We hit the ball well in the first inning and they caught everything we hit,” Witten said.
“We knew coming into this game our bats have been swinging pretty good. We kept that going today. We were a little frustrated in that first inning because we didn’t get anything to fall but we knew we could.”
Delphos St. John’s (5-10) out-hit Van Wert 10-8, turned two double plays, narrowly missed a third and got a spectacular diving catch from centerfielder Colin Feathers to start one of the DPs.
But along with its hitting, Van Wert was able to take advantage of seven walks by three Blue Jays pitchers, two batters being hit by pitches and four St. John’s errors.
St. John’s took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Trent Lindeman’s sacrifice fly scored Gavin Fittro, who had led off the game with a single, and Curtis Mueller singled to score Brady Kerner.
The Blue Jays’ advantage grew to 3-0 in the second inning when Brayden Conley walked, moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Devin Sanders, got to third on a single by Fittro and scored on a ground out by Kerner.
But Van Wert responded with five runs in bottom of the second when it sent 10 batters to the plate and led the rest of the game.
The Cougars got those five runs on only two hits. Aidan Pratt led off the inning with a single and a walk to Ries Wise and Luke Wessell being hit by a pitch loaded the bases.
A walk to Levi Eddins scored Van Wert’s first run, a single by Place scored the second and a walk to Owen Treece forced in another run and tied the game at 3-3. An error and a fielder’s choice scored two more runs to give Van Wert a 5-3 lead.
Van Wert added four more runs in the fourth inning. Ethan Rupert and Wessell had run-scoring singles and the other two runs scored on errors.
Fittro went 4 for 5 for St. John’s with three singles and a triple. Zane Wertenberger was 2 for 3 and Jack Gerker was 2 for 4.
Aidan Pratt and Wessell were 2 for 3 for Van Wert and Wessell (5 innings pitched, 5 strikeouts, 2 walks) was the winning pitcher.
“Luke has been real good for us this year,” Witten said. “He struggled early but give him credit. He’s only a sophomore. He settled down and got through five innings and Ethan (Rupert) came in and finished it for us.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.