MINSTER — Regardless of what happens Wednesday, the Wapakoneta ACME baseball team is headed to the district tournament.
Wapak earned that honor with yet another thrilling, come-from-behind win.
Wapak scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning to rally to a 6-4 win over St. Marys in a sectional semifinal Sunday at Hanover Park in Minster.
“It’s a huge, huge win,” Wapak coach Willie Sammetinger said. “I can’t say enough.”
The Auglaize County rivals have met three times this season, with Wapak holding a 2-1 advantage. They could meet again in the sectional title game on Wednesday.
St. Marys, the top seed in the sectional, will have to get past Minster, again, if it wants another crack at Wapak. St. Marys beat Minster on Saturday. Now both will meet in the losers bracket tonight at 6, with the winner advancing to the championship game of the double-elimination sectional tournament.
The top two teams from each sectional advance to districts.
For awhile on Sunday, it looked like Wapak would be the team headed for the losers bracket.
St. Marys led 4-1 and pitcher Brad Sawmiller, who shut Wapak out during the regular season, had held Wapak to just three hits in the first six innings.
“We’re still taking too many strikes,” Sammetinger said. “We can’t take strike two and we can’t take strike three. And today we had five strikeouts looking. Those kind of hurt us.”
Sawmiller started the seventh strong, getting Chase Culver to ground to shortstop Nick Vogel. But Vogel bobbled the ball and Culver reached first safely.
He struck out Dominic Campos and hit Alex Koch with a pitch before striking out Dylan Knoch.
Still holding on to the three-run lead, Sawmiller threw a wild pitch that allowed Culver to score before he walked Josh Apple.
Brandon Schreiber then sliced a two-out double into right field to score Koch and Apple and to make it 4-4.
St. Marys replaced Samwiller with Tyler Roby, who promptly gave up a single to Brandon Miller to drive in Schreiber for the go-ahead run.
“We had them right where we wanted them — up the runs we needed with their 7-8-9-hole hitters, who had done absolutely nothing all day,” St. Marys coach Alan Huber said. “And when you walk a guy and hit a guy and get back to the top of the order, who had actually done a good job working counts, that’s not where you want to be.”
Chandler Kaeck then smashed a double off the wall in right-center to score Miller and make it 6-4.
“Those were three huge, huge hits,” Sammetinger said.
Culver started and went six innings for Wapak. He allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. Culver picked up the win to improve to 4-1 on the season.
Marshall Gerlach pitched a one-hit seventh for the save, his first of the season.
Schreiber led the way at the plate. He went 2 for 4 with a single, a double, three RBIs and a run scored.
Kaeck was 2-for-3 with a single, a double, a walk and an RBI.
Miller scored once and drove in one.
Wapak improved to 17-2 on the season.
The district tournament begins Saturday in Celina.