Delphos St. John’s, Leipsic to meet for district baseball crown

HAMLER — Not very often does a baseball team commit nine errors and still have an opportunity to win the game.

However, Lincolnview, Division IV state runner-up the past two seasons, found itself in that exact situation in Wednesday’s Division IV district semifinal matchup with Delphos St. John’s at Patrick Henry High School.

Heading into the bottom of the seventh, Lincolnview was trailing St. John’s 10-5.

The Lancers, behind a two-run home run by Austin Bockrath and an RBI single by Brandon Renner in the seventh, made it interesting down the stretch.

However, St. John’s managed to shut the door and come away with a hard-fought 10-8 victory against the Lancers.

With the win, St. John’s (19-9) will face Leipsic at 5 p.m. Friday for a district title at Patrick Henry High School.

Leipsic (14-10) won the first district semifinal Wednesday at Patrick Henry, 4-3, against Ayersville (14-9-1).

St. John’s head coach Jerry Jackson said he knew Lincolnview would not quit.

“A lot of times, even if the game looks like the numbers are in your favor, baseball is a different kind of animal – when it comes to staying in the game,” Jackson said with a smile. “We felt comfortable going into that seventh. But kudos to them (Lincolnview) for (getting) two straight hits right away. We made some (pitching) changes. … We had trouble finding the strike zone. Cam (Elwer) came in and got the save, and now we’re moving on.”

Grant Ulm started on the pitching mound for St. John’s. The junior right-hander worked 2 1/3 innings before being lifted. Ulm gave up three runs on two base hits, while striking out three and walking four. He threw 51 pitches.

Austin Moenter came in to take over pitching duties for St. John’s in the third. Moenter worked all the way until the seventh. Brayden Conley made a very short appearance, before Cam Elwer moved over from his shortstop position to close out the game for the Blue Jays.

“We needed him (Elwer) today,” Jackson said. “We needed those extra outs. So, he was going to be our closer today. But you have to tip your hat to Lincolnview because they battled the whole time. They didn’t make it easy for us to keep ourselves ahead of the curve. The way Lincolnview plays, they’re never going to go away. They’re going to battle to the very end.”

Luke Bollenbacher got the starting nod for Lincolnview.

The tall, right-handed junior pitched four-plus innings before being lifted. Bollenbacher scattered five hits, while striking out seven and walking two. He threw 89 pitches on the day.

Freshman Chayse Overholt moved over from his shortstop position in the fifth to take over on the mound for the Lancers.

Overholt worked 1 2/3 innings, before giving way to Jack Dunlap in the sixth.

For the game, St. John’s pounded a total of 12 base hits.

“I’m very pleased at the way we’re swinging the bats, right now,” Jackson said. “We got off to a slow start. We got some swings there in the middle (of the game) and we were able to put the hits together. We’ve struggled putting them together. … That’s what we needed.”

Leading the way for St. John’s at the plate Wednesday were Jack Gerker and Cam Elwer, who both went 2 for 5 and two RBI.

Braylon Metzger also had a two-hit day for the Blue Jays.

For the Lancers, Brandon Renner went 4 for 4 with an RBI.

For the game, Lincolnview recorded 10 base hits.

St. John’s scored a run in the top of the first to take the early lead. Landen Grothaus, who led off the game with a single to left, eventually came home to score by way of a wild pitch.

Lincolnview responded.

In the bottom of the first, Jack Dunlap smacked a double that scored two runs, to give the Lancers a 2-1 lead.

The Blue Jays knotted the game, 2-2 in the third.

The Lancers regained the lead in the bottom of the third, 3-2.

St. John’s had an answer in the top of the fourth, scoring two runs on just one hit to take a 4-3 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, Lincolnview took the lead once more. The Lancers plated two runs on three hits to claim a 5-4 lead. Dane Ebel (2 for 4) had a double that scored two runs.

However, St. John’s began to pull away. The Blue Jays tallied one run in the fifth, four runs in the sixth, and added one more in the seventh.

Leipsic 4, Ayersville 3

After being down 3-0 after three innings against Ayersville, Leipsic battled back and defeated the Pilots, 4-3.

Leipsic had five hits. Ayersville collected six hits on the night.

Luke Spoors got the starting nod on the mound for Leipsic. The senior right-hander worked four-plus innings. He gave up three runs on six hits, while fanning eight and walking one. He threw 71 pitches.

Tommy Offenbacher came in to pitch the rest of the way for the Vikings. Offenbacher struck out six and walked two.

Blake Hauenstein pitched 5 2/3 innings for the Pilots. He scattered three hits, while striking out five, walking four and hitting a batter. Hauenstein threw 104 pitches.

Abe Delano came in to pitch in the sixth for Ayersville.

Ethan Zeisloft went 2 for 3 for Leipsic.

Leipsic head coach Darren Henry was happy at his players’ approach at the plate.

“We did (make contact), and we weren’t striking out. Both of those guys (Ayersville’s pitchers) are strikeout pitchers,” Henry said. “They have great stuff. So, I felt pretty good. We were putting the ball in play but hitting some baseballs right at them. But we hung in there. It’s a nice win against a good team.”

Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.