HAMLER — It is going to be an All-Putnam County League District IV district final at Patrick Henry High School at 5 p.m. today, weather permitting..
Kalida earned a spot in the championship game with a 1-0 win against Wayne Trace and Leipsic defeated Miller City, 5-0, to secure its spot in the title game.
Kalida 1, Wayne Trace 0
Kalida pitcher Ryan Lucke’s approach was simple: throw strikes and rely on his defense and that paid off as he fired a complete game, two-hit shutout to outduel Wayne Trace’s Cooper Winzlick who also put in a strong outing for the Raiders by giving up two hits while fanning nine.
Lucke, who gave up a single to the first batter of the game, did not give up a hit until the sixth inning. From the second to the fourth inning, Wayne Trace reached base twice and the Wildcat righty set down the Raiders in order in the third, fourth and fifth frames.
“I was just trying to get every batter out, throw strikes and have great defense behind me,” Lucke said. “I know they are going to get some hits so I had to battle threw it and know the defense is going to make some plays and they did today.
“I am always a fastball first guy, and I want make them prove they can hit it and if they can then I will change it up. Working ahead is really important to me and getting quick outs is good and keeping that pitch count low so I can pitch the full game.”
Kalida’s defense was solid by committing one error and its glove work came up with key plays to prevent any Wayne Trace rallies. Lucke managed four strikeouts for the game and that meant the defense was instrumental in helping get the shutout.
“It is just another great game by Lucke and it is why he deserved player of the year, he didn’t get it but he deserved it and I think we saw it again today,” Kalida head coach Chad Ehrnsberger said. “Every time he goes out there he gives us a chance to win.”
With both pitchers dialed in, scoring a run was going to be hard to come by and that proved true until the fifth inning when Kalida produced the lone score of the game
It began when Jaden Smith was hit by a pitch followed by a a nicely laid down bunt by Brandon Miller that Wenzlick bobbled and Kalida had runners on first and second base. A second bunt by Lucke sacrificed the two Wildcats into scoring position. Luke Erhart was intentionally walked to load the bases and Justin Siebeneck hit a shot to right field to sacrifice home Smith.
“Give a lot of credit to Sienbeneck,” Ehrnsberger said. “He struck out his first two times up and the third time he came up in a big spot and came through for us. That is huge mentally, especially for a high school kid.
Ehrnsberger said he doesn’t prefer small ball but this time it paid off.
“I am more of swing away kind of guy but sometimes you have to read tje situation and we weren’t getting too many hits so I thought we would mix it up a little bit and Wenzlick threw a great game for them so sometimes you got to have him (Wenzlick) field his position and take him out of rhythm and it kind of worked there.”
Leipsic 5, Miller City 0
Leipsic’s Tyler Sickmiller was tabbed PCL player of the year last week and the Viking senior showed why in the second game of the district semifinal Thursday.
Sickmiller fired a complete game, three-hitter and also delivered a key double to help secure the win for the Vikings. He struck out four and walked one.
On the mound, Sickmiller, throwing his breaking ball for strikes, struck out three and relied on his team’s defense to effectively quell the Wildcat bats. After giving up a single to open the game, the Viking righty retired the next 15 of 17 batters before surrendering his next hit in the sixth. In those innings, the Wildcats did not get a runner in scoring position.
“He does what Ty can do,” Leipsic head coach Darren Henry said. “He mixes it up and he throws strikes and that’s what happens. He had a good curve today and that is what he needed.”
Miller City added a double to open the seventh but the Vikings retired the next three batters.
“He (Sickmiller) threw the ball really well,” Miller City head coach Dusty Pester said. “I thought we squared up a few balls and they made some nice plays as well. Their defense was really darn good. We hit the ball hard early right at them. We hit the ball late right at them but the name of the game of any pitcher is let your defense work and obviously Sickmiller did that effectively today and that is why he is the PCL player of the year for a reason.”
Offensively, Sickmiller came through with a clutch two-out double with the bases loaded in the fifth inning to drive in three and give Leipsic a 4-0 advantage. Sickmiller finished the game going 2 for 4 with two runs scored and three RBI.
Viking designated hitter Jeremy Tavarez had a big day at the plate, going 4 for 4 with two RBI.
As a team the Vikings had 10 hits on the night, a far cry from the last time they faced Miller City’s Caleb Niese who struck out 13 and scattered seven hits in the regular season meeting.,
“He (Sickmiller) is a good player and he had that hit and Tavarez had a couple of big hits,” Henry said. “Our DH definitely did his job today. Jeremy jumped started this team today.
“He (Niese) struck out 14 or 15 the last time, and he is good. We have seen a lot of left-handed pitching at the end of the year and some good left handed pitching, and it has helped us because he is good.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.