MINSTER — The Wapakoneta ACME baseball team showed it could make things interesting late — in both the best and worst sense — during the Auglaize County sectional tournament this week.
But above all the Redskins revealed that they were the county’s best summer baseball team.
Wapakoneta held off a late Minster charge for a 6-5 win in the sectional title game on Wednesday night to finish the tournament unscathed with a 3-0 record with comebacks and close calls throughout.
“We set goals every spring: we want to beat every team in the county, we want to win the sectional and we want to win 20 games,” Wapakoneta coach Willie Sammetinger said. “Now we’ve done it all but win 20 and we’re two games away from that. We’ve got a bunch of kids who have really stepped up and done the job and I’m proud of them.”
Chandler Kaeck went 2 for 3 with a pair of runs batted in and the top of the order hitters Dylan Knoch and Brandon Schreiber each reached base three times while scoring two runs to lead the Wapakoneta offense.
Minster fell for the second time in the sectional despite a 4-for-4 night at the plate from catcher Rob Wente.
Both Wapakoneta and Minster advance to the district tournament at St. Henry or at Celina on Saturday, with games brackets still to be determined as of Wednesday night.
“The first key to the weekend is to advance to the district,” Minster coach Scott Sherman said. “We’d have liked to come into tonight and gotten two wins, but it didn’t work out that way. We’re happy to be moving on. Back in the winner’s bracket for this weekend.”
Wapakoneta received a start that made a second title game unnecessary on Wednesday.
Marshall Gerlach pitched the first 6 2-3 innings for Wapak, bobbing and weaving out of trouble all night. Gerlach emerged from the sixth inning without giving up a run even after the first three Wildcats reached base.
“He worked ahead in the count,” Wapakoneta coach Willie Sammetinger said. “Bases loaded and nobody out and he gets out of it without giving up a run. That’s huge. Textbook.”
Only a few hits and errors in the field behind him kept him from the complete game in the seventh before Chandler Kaeck got the game’s final out.
“If we make a play, he’s got a complete game,” Sammetinger said.
Minster watched prime opportunities pass, most glaringly leaving the sacks loaded in the sixth and leaving 10 runners standing on bases in the game. Minster had a runner at second or third base in five of the seven innings and left eight runners stranded in scoring position.
“We did that all night,” Minster coach Scott Sherman said. “We left guys on base in all innings. We just couldn’t get that big two-out hit and they did.”
The Wildcats finally capitalized on a rally in the top of the seventh inning, but they waited until the first two batters got out. Doug Huber hit one of his three hits — a double — over the head of the center fielder and Rob Wente doubled to center to plate Huber to make it 6-3. Drew Elson singled through the hole on the left side to load the bases. Minster defensive replacement Ethan Wolf hit a ground ball to short that appeared would end the game, but Elson beat the flip to second base to extend the game.
Minster’s Andrew Knapke hit a hot grounder to shortstop that went under the glove to score Elson and put the tying run 90 feet from home plate.
But Kaeck coaxed Jay Eilerman into a groundout to second base to end the game and give the Redskins the sectional title.
“It’s a good thing we got those runs late because once again we made two mistakes and it almost bit us again,” Sammetinger said.
Minster’s Doug Huber finished the game 3 for 4 with two runs batted.
Huber singled home the Wildcats’ first run in the first inning to bring home Devon Poeppelman, who singled to start the game.
The Wildcats went up 2-0 in the third on another Huber RBI single, this time plating Austin Knapke, who had led off the third with a single.
Wapakoneta stormed ahead for good in the bottom of the third inning with a three-run inning on three consecutive RBI hits by Schreiber, Brandon Miller and Kaeck.
Wapak added on two runs in the fifth with an RBI bloop single to left by Kaek and a double steal of home by Knoch.
Wapakoneta’s final insurance run came in the sixth with a Knoch double to left field that scored Dominic Campos.
Austin Knapke started for Minster and took the loss on the hill. Knapke pitched the first 4 2-3 innings, giving up five runs on five hits with one strikeout. Ryan Hoying finished things off with 1 1-3 innings of work, giving up one run on one hit.
Sammetinger said while it was nice to win the first game, his team was prepared for a second game. Either way, the Wapakoneta coach said his team was determined to leave with the sectional title.
“We had our number three starter ready if we needed him for the second game,” Sammetinger said. “We still had pitching and Minster was running out of pitching. We were prepared no matter what.”
The game finished right around the two-hour mark and just outpaced a strong rainstorm that advanced into the area at 8 p.m.