ST. HENRY — Wapakoneta stayed alive in the ACME baseball district tournament on Sunday with a win over Delphos St. John’s a day after falling behind early and losing to Van Wert 10-8 on Saturday at St. Henry.
Van Wert and Wapakoneta will meet again in an elimination game tonight at 7 at the Wally Post Athletic Center in St. Henry. The winner of that game will face Minster.
Minster is the lone team in the St. Henry portion of the district ACME bracket without a loss after a pair of wins over the weekend. A 10-4 win over Delphos St. John’s on Saturday and a 10-0 run-rule win over Van Wert on Sunday has Minster a win away from advancing to the finals of the district.
If the winner of the St. Henry and Celina portions of the district bracket both are without a loss, the two finalists will play a best of three series at St. Henry. If one or both of the teams from both sides emerging from the brackets have a loss, double elimination rules will apply.
Wapak entered the weekend with an 18-2 record and all the momentum of a clean run through the sectional tournament last weekend, but found itself knocked back on its heels by an early display of power by Van Wert.
A pair of home runs, including a second-inning grand slam by Matt Cucciare, keyed Van Wert in its opening game win over Wapak.
Van Wert sent 13 batters to the plate — including 10 hitters after there were two outs in the inning — during a seven-run inning.
Vincent Morland drove in the first run of the game with a single to score Brandt Henry and after a walk to load the bases, Cucciare blasted a home run into the teeth of the wind and over the left field fence to put Van Wert up 5-0.
A pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases again in the inning. A bases loaded walk and an RBI double made it 7-0.
“Seven unearned runs with two outs and we get beat 10-8,” Wapak coach Willie Sammetinger said. “We didn’t make plays when we had to. This time it bit us big-time. It kind of took it out of us.”
Van Wert went up 9-0 in the top of the third inning on a Terrin Contreras two-run, two-out opposite field home run to right field.
Van Wert led 10-0 after four and appeared to be ready to run-rule the flat Wapak squad.
Wapak staved off the run-rule with a run in the bottom of the fifth on Chandler Kaeck’s RBI fielder’s choice ground out.
Wapak scored three runs in the sixth. Dylan Knoch doubled in a run to send Van Wert starting pitcher Brandt Henry from the game. Josh Apple then brought Knoch home with a sacrifice fly to right field to make it 10-3. Brandon Schreiber walked and came around to score on a Van Wert error.
Wapak almost made it all the way back before running out of outs in the seventh.
A pair of walks led off the bottom of the seventh for Wapak and things got interesting when Knoch tripled in a pair of runs. Apple’s groundout to shortstop plated Knoch to make it 10-8, but a flyout and a grounder to second base ended the rally and the game.
Wapak is now 19-3. A win over Van Wert tonight would put it in the St. Henry bracket final Tuesday night at 6 against Minster. If Wapak wins that game, the two teams would play again at 8:15 with that winner taking on the Celina bracket champ Thursday at 7 at St. Henry.