Dylan Knoch didn’t take over as Wapakoneta’s lead-off hitter until midseason.
Monday night he looked more like a cleanup hitter.
Knoch hit a lead-off home run in the first inning that proved to be the only offense Wapak would need in a 3-0 win over rival St. Marys in an ACME baseball game at Wapakoneta High School.
“It was a curve ball that came down-in and I hit it before it broke over the plate,” Knoch said. “I thought I leaned into it good enough and I just pulled it. It felt real good off the bat.”
St. Marys had several opportunities to score — bases loaded with one out in the first, two on with one out in the third, bases loaded with no outs in the fourth, and two on with one out in the seventh — but failed to convert each time, stranding 15 runners.
“The difference in this game was that they executed when they needed to and had opportunities to, and we didn’t,” St. Marys coach Alan Huber said. “When you don’t take advantage of opportunities you make it really hard on yourself.”
Wapak added another run in the first. Josh Apple drew a walk and later scored on Chandler Kaeck’s single to right.
It added an insurance run in the sixth when Brandon Schreiber, Brandon Miller and Josh Carder walked to start the inning, then Chase Culver drew a one-out walk to score Schreiber.
Culver threw six innings. He struck out eight but walked an uncharacteristic nine batters. He allowed just four hits.
“I thought I was spotting my curve ball well,” Culver said. “But I guess I was missing high every now and then.”
Culver threw 124 pitches before being pulled in favor of Brandon Miller to begin the seventh.
“We’ve seen him (Culver) pitch a lot better,” Sammetinger said. “It’s gets kind of frustrating when you get a lot of walks. But he’s gutsy. He wanted the ball.”
Miller gave up back-to-back singles to Steven Paulus and Brad Sawmiller before getting Tyler Poppe to ground into a rally-killing 6-4-3 double play.
“That was huge,” Sammetinger said.
Culver (3-1) picked up the win. Miller earned his second save.
Nick Vogel took the loss for St. Marys. After the two-run first inning he settled down to allow just two hits over the next five innings. He struck out three and walked one.
The win avenged a 10-0 loss to St. Marys earlier in the season. St. Marys has the top seed in the ACME tournament, which begins Saturday at Minster High School. And there is a very good chance these two teams will meet again.
Wapak upped its record to 13-2. It will host New Bremen tonight at 6:30.