DELPHOS — Delphos St. John’s pitcher Brady Kerner got himself into a bases-loaded mess.
Now it was up to him to escape from it.
Kerner got a two-out strikeout with the bases loaded in the third inning to help St. John’s post a 3-1 non-league baseball victory over Van Wert Saturday at Stadium Park.
St. John’s is 10-4. Van Wert is 6-6.
In a scoreless game in the top of the third, Kerner got the first two Van Wert hitters out.
Then, Ethan Rupert doubled, Turner Witten reached on an infield error and Luke Wessell was hit with a Kerner pitch.
That loaded the bases for Damon McCracken. With the count 1-2, Kerner cut loose a nasty, slow curve to strike out McCracken and wiggle out of trouble.
That kept the game scoreless in the third.
“It was a 12-6 curve,” Kerner said. “I got all of that curveball. It was the best curveball I threw all day. I was (a little nervous) after hitting the batter (with a change-up), but then I cleared my mind.’’
St. John’s scored in the home third to take a 1-0 lead. Van Wert tied the game at 1 in the fourth.
St. John’s scored two in the home fourth to take the lead to stay, 3-1.
Kerner picked up the win by going four innings. He gave up one run on four hits. He struck out three and walked two.
Kerner threw 67 pitches, 42 for strikes.
“My curveball was a little weary at points, but whenever I can get it dialed it, I always seem to get that hitter looking at it,” Kerner said. “I throw the curveball, get him off-balance, then throw the fastball. You get him off-balance, then explode his mind.’’
St. John’s coach Jerry Jackson said, “Brady threw today and he’ll throw Thursday against Versailles. We wanted him to get 60 to 70 pitches today.
“And his curve is getting better every outing. He’s pounding the zone, he’s getting strikeouts and he can get groundballs for us.’’
Kerner also went 2 for 4 at the plate with an RBI and a stolen base.
T.J. Werts was 2 for 2 for St. John’s.
St. John’s No. 7 hitter in the order, Aaron Moenter, went 2 for 2 with two doubles, both to center.
For Van Wert, leadoff hitter and starting pitcher Kaden Shaffer went 3 for 4 with an RBI. He had three of his team’s four hits.
“This year’s expectations were I thought we would be a good, decent team, but they’re exceeding my expectations a little bit by playing good defense, along with our pitching and timely hitting,” Jackson said.
In the home third, St. John’s scored first.
Collin Feathers doubled to center. He came home on an RBI single to center by Kerner to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth, Van Wert’s Kaiden Bates walked, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. He scored on an infield single to deep short by Shaffer.
That tied the game at 1.
In the home fourth, Werts singled and Aaron Moenter doubled to center to put runners on second and third.
Austin Moenter reached on an infield error by the Van Wert third baseman, which scored Werts and gave the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead.
Jack Gerker’s sacrifice fly to center pushed the St. John’s lead to 3-1.
Austin Moenter picked up the save with three scoreless innings. He gave up one hit, struck out one and walked two.
Van Wert had a quick rally in the seventh when Witten led off with a walk.
With one out and a pinch-runner at first, Sam Houg hit a wild-hop grounder to third that took a nasty hop into the chest of Jays third baseman Devin Sanders.
The ball bounced off Sanders and over near the mound. Pitcher Austin Moenter picked it up and threw behind the runner rounding second. Kerner, now playing shortstop, slapped the tag on the runner for the second out.
“Heads up on our defense,” Jackson said.
Austin Moenter got the final out on a popup to short.
Van Wert’s Shaffer gave up three runs, one earned, on eight hits in four innings. He struck out one and walked one.
Van Wert is 3-2 in the Western Buckeye League after wins this week over Wapakoneta and St. Marys.
“It’s been a frustrating year because we started out 4-0, then we went 0-4,” Van Wert veteran coach Charlie Witten said. “We’ve been kind of up and down. And we didn’t have two pitchers out of our top four right now, one on an injury and one with the robotics club in Houston right now.’’
St. John’s enters the final week of April with a 5-0 mark in the Midwest Athletic Conference.
“Everyone has been contributing,” Kerner said. … “We’re changing some mindsets about us. A lot of people think we’re bottom of the barrel, but we’re here to play.’’
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