MINSTER — A defensive meltdown by Wapakoneta allowed Minster to take the lead in what proved to be its final at-bat Tuesday, as Minster recorded a 5-3 win over Wapakoneta on Tuesday in district qualifier in the Auglaize County ACME sectional tournament at Hanover Street Park.
Minster’s fortuitous sixth inning began with Max Huber reaching first base on Wapak catcher Nate Kaeck’s second catcher’s obstruction infraction of the game and advancing to second on a single.
Wapak starting pitcher Jake Bruns fielded a ball off the bat of Minster’s Garrett Hogenkamp. Bruns’ throw, a forceout attempt at third base, was dropped by Jon Eaton, leaving the bases loaded with zero outs. Bruns appeared to have escaped trouble, striking out the next two Minster hitters.
The next batter, Brad Walterbusch, sent a slow grounder to Eaton, who sailed a throw beyond first baseman Chandler Kaeck’s reach into foul territory. With two runs having already scored, Kaeck chased the ball down and fired a shot to home plate in an effort to cut down Hogenkamp, but catcher Nate Kaeck dropped the ball upon applying the tag.
Hogenkamp’s run gave Minster a 4-3 lead.
Clay Brown followed the costly error with a double to score Walterbusch, giving Minster a two-run cushion, 5-3.
Jordan Kaeck was stranded in the top of the seventh after walking with two outs.
“Pathetic,” Wapak head coach Willie Sammetinger said Tuesday of the sixth inning. “It all started with the second catcher’s interference and it just snowballed from there. There’s no reason to even make that throw. The runner was a foot-and-a-half away from the base.
“We turned a 3-1 win into a 5-3 loss. All five runs they scored were unearned runs. It’s hard to beat unearned runs,” he said.
Even a good throw by Eaton might still have meant Walterbusch reaching first base safely.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Minster scored its four runs on one hit and two errors.
Minster head coach Mark Wiss talked about his team’s fortunes in the sixth inning.
“Sometimes small ball helps,” Wiss said. “A bunt that they had a misplay on followed by another ball hit about 25 feet was all. We scored three runs on it.
“Clay got us a two-run cushion. That was huge, because Wapak got a runner on in the seventh.”
Wiss commented on the win itself Tuesday.
“It was a really, really good win for our team,” Wiss said. “We’re a little short-staffed, so we thought we had our work cut out for us. The kids who came tonight really stepped up.”
Wapak opened the game with three runs in the top of the first inning.
Quinn Lotridge singled, and Jordan Kaeck walked before a Chandler Kaeck single loaded the bases. Lotridge scored on a walk by Nate Kaeck.
The Wapak offense went scoreless the rest of the game, however.
Drew Ripploh earned the win Tuesday in three innings of relief pitching. He allowed one hit and one walk.
“After a lackadaisical first inning, defensively, we were not ready to play and we gave a good team a three-run cushion,” Wiss said. “We had our work cut out for us.”
“Our pitching got good. Clay Brown really shut them down and Drew Ripploh came in like a hammer,” he said. “All of the sudden, our defense got a lot better, too.”
Minster’s first run Tuesday came with the help of Nate Kaeck’s first catcher’s obstruction infraction.
Sam Bornhorst was awarded first base on the infraction to open the bottom of the third inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single by Walterbusch.
Minster eventually loaded the bases in the inning but managed just the one run by Barnhorst.
Bruns, in six innings of work, allowed four hits and three runs and took the loss for Wapak.
“Our pitching was alright,” Sammetinger said. “Jake did a good job, but you’ve got to have some defense behind you, we didn’t have it.”
Jordan Kaeck doubled and walked twice to lead the Wapak offense.