MINSTER — Under the lights on a chilly, sometimes breezy night, Wapakoneta ACME performed when needed most Monday in order to advance.
Wapakoneta rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat St. Marys, 5-4, on Monday in the quarterfinals of the double-elimination Auglaize County ACME sectional tournament at Hanover Street Park.
With the win, Wapakoneta advanced to face Minster, a 2-1 winner over New Bremen earlier Monday. The loss dropped St. Marys into the loser’s bracket with New Bremen.
Trailing 4-1, Wapak broke through in the sixth inning to take the lead for good Monday.
With one out, following a Jake Bruns walk, Taylor Gonzales moved Bruns to second base with a single. Kodi Morgan then singled to score Bruns, before an error by the catcher allowed both runners to advance one base.
Logan Martin walked to load the bases. The No. 9 hitter Jon Eaton tied the game with a two-run single, scoring Gonzales and Morgan.
Quinn Lotridge drew his second intentional walk of the game to again load the bases. Two batters later, Chandler Kaeck’s RBI single plated Martin to give Wapak a 5-4 lead.
Wapak’s four runs and three hits in the sixth inning exceeded those totals in all other innings combined Monday.
In the sixth inning, his second in relief, Eaton caught a screamer back at the pitcher’s mound for first out. He then walked St. Marys leadoff hitter Nate Vogel before coming back from a 3-1 hitter’s count to strike out Jared Knous for the second out.
After another walk, a passed ball put runners on second and third, but Eaton induced an inning-ending groundout from St. Marys cleanup hitter Isaac Fitzgerald.
Chandler Kaeck pitched the seventh inning for Wapak and earned a save after retiring all three hitters he faced, striking out the final two batters of the game.
Eaton earned the win.
Wapak head coach Willie Sammetinger commented on his two relief pitchers.
“Jon Eaton came in and gave us two good innings of relief,” Sammetinger said. “We brought Chandler in the seventh. He’s money. When the chips are down, he wants the ball.”
Lotridge, Wapak’s starting pitcher Monday, escaped a jam in the first inning.
After two outs were made, Lotridge allowed a walk and two singles to load the bases before a flyout to right field ended the threat.
The St. Marys offense came right back at Lotridge in the second, posting three runs to commence the scoring.
Two walks and an error loaded the bases, setting up a two-run single by Vogel. Another run scored on a wild pitch to make the score 3-0.
St. Marys added its fourth and final run in the third inning.
Marshall Lininger opened the frame with a leadoff double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Coffey, before Mason Gross plated Lininger on a single to give St. Marys a 4-0 lead.
Lotridge was relieved by Eaton to start the fifth inning.
In four innings, Lotridge allowed six hits and four walks, tallying one strikeout against the final batter he faced.
“Our No. 1 pitcher obviously didn’t have it tonight,” Sammetinger said Monday of Lotridge. “He wasn’t sharp with the curveball. He threw a lot of breaking balls in the dirt.”
Wapak missed its first chance to score in the fourth inning.
Nate Kaeck walked with one out and reached second on a passed ball. Two batters later, Taylor Gonzales singled for Wapak’s first hit of the game, but Kaeck was tagged out in a rundown trying to score from second base.
Wapak rebounded to post one run in the fifth inning.
Morgan singled to open the inning, advanced to second base on a passed ball, before Martin walked.
The No. 9 batter Eaton moved both runners one base on a sacrifice bunt, then Lotridge was issued an intentional walk.
With the bases loaded, Jordan Kaeck scored Morgan on a fielder’s choice to end the shutout with St. Marys leading 4-1.
Wapak, after five hits Monday, now has just 12 hits in its last three games.
“Offensively, I’m still not happy. That really irritates me,” Sammetinger said Monday. “But, the mark of a good team, when the chips are down, is they’ll score runs and find a way to win, and we did that tonight.”
Coffey, who went six innings Monday for St. Marys, took the loss.
Monday’s game was played after being postponed Sunday due to rain.
Wapak will face Minster at 6:30 p.m. today, with the winner receiving a berth in the sectional championship.