Sometimes it’s not the team that makes the most plays that comes out on top. Sometimes it’s the one that makes the fewest mistakes.
Friday night, that team was the St. Marys Roughriders.
St. Marys took advantage of a slew of miscues in the first three innings to post a 5-1 win over the rival Wapakoneta Redskins in a Western Buckeye League varsity baseball game at Wapakoneta High School.
Roughriders pitcher Brad Sawmiller was in control on the mound, allowing just three hits. He struck out six, walked two and hit two batters.
“We were highly motivated,” St. Marys coach Dave Huber said. “There is a good rivalry between Wapak and us. They’ve got a good ball club. And Brad came out and pitched one heck of a game.”
The Roughriders improved to 15-6 overall and 6-2 in league play. Wapak fell to 14-4 and 5-2.
The Redskins committed four errors, four wild pitches/passed balls, three walks and a hit-batsman to allow the Roughriders score five runs in the first three innings.
“You can’t dig yourself a hole against a good team,” Redskins varsity coach Jason Brandt said. “They hit the ball hard. But we’ve got to make the plays. We expect to make every play. When you get down, then your things change, offensively, what you can do.”
St. Marys got on the board first with one run in the top half of the inning. With two outs and Nick Vogel on second, Michael Huber grounded back to Chace Culver on the mound. Culver bobbled the ball and was unable to get Huber at first to end the inning, allowing Vogel to move to third.
Huber took a huge lead from first, trying to draw a throw from Culver. He got it and Culver’s throw sailed into right field allowing Vogel to score.
Wapak answered to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning, also taking advantage of a miscue.
Josh Apple lined a one-out single into center and moved to second on Johnny Crawford’s single to left.
St. Marys catcher Steven Paulus tried to catch Apple napping at second with a pickoff throw. But his errant throw got all the way past center fielder D.J. Manning, allowing Apple to score from second to tie the game.
“We got a little sloppy there in the first,” Dave Huber said. “But we were able to get that corrected.”
The wheels fell off for Wapak in the second.
Batting in the seventh slot, Mason Gross lined a one-out single up the middle. Sawmiller reached on an error by Marshall Gerlach at third. And Luke Leffel drew a walk to load the bases.
Culver walked Manning to score Gross and Sawmiller scored on a wild pitch before the Redskins could get out of the inning.
“That’s what you have to do,” Dave Huber said. “Just like they gained advantage with our mistake in the first inning to pick up a run.”
St. Marys added two more in the third. Huber and Jarrett Taylor led off with back-to-back singles before Brandt replaced Culver with Gerlach on the mound.
Gerlach hit the first batter he faced, Paulus, to load the bases. Gross plated Huber with a sacrifice fly to left. And Taylor would later score on a an error by Apple at short.
Paulus almost added another run when he tried to score on a wild pitch. But Wapak catcher Brandon Schreiber made a nice play off the backstop and got the ball to Gerlach to tag out Paulus at the plate.
Gerlach settled down over the final four innings, scattering four hits while striking out five (six total) and yielding just one walk.
“He pretty much shut the door on us,” Dave Huber said.
The Redskins also settled down defensively, playing error-free ball down the stretch. But the damage had already been done.
“Sawmiller was doing a great job keeping us off-balance all day,” Brandt said. “We helped him at times. But he also made some good pitches when it counted the most.”
Wapak will play the Perry Commodores on Monday.