WAPAKONETA — Grant Childress hit a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning as Wapakoneta outlasted Lima Central Catholic 7-6 for an ACME varsity victory Tuesday at MercyHealth Baseball Field.
Childress, who saw Logan Crow standing at third and Deacon Retterer occupying first when he came to the plate with two outs in the eighth, lined the ball down the left field line to break a 6-6 tie, produce a walkoff win and improve the Redskins to 7-2 this summer.
Wapakoneta manufactured its run in the extra frame as Crow led off and went to first on a hit-by-pitch before Nate Schneider used a sacrifice bunt to move the Wapakoneta baserunner to second. Crow took third in a key moment while Retterer worked for a walk to bring Childress to the plate.
“We always talk about getting the leadoff runner on (base) because good things can happen when that happens,” Redskins coach Jason Brandt said. “Logan made a great heads-up play by taking third base when (LCC) was not holding him on. He came to third and it was easy for him to score on a base hit. It’s the little things like that that count a lot, especially when you’re down early and trying to come back.”
The Thunderbirds took a 5-0 lead in the first and were in control early, but Wapakoneta rallied behind seven innings of relief pitching from Crow and Grant Bauer. Crow allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts and no walks in 4 2/3 innings before Bauer worked 2 1/3 scoreless frames with four strikeouts and one walk.
“I’m going to give my team credit because we battled back after being down 5-0 on a hot day. It was tough conditions to play in,” said Redskins first baseman Austin West, who collected two hits and two RBIs on Tuesday. “We just didn’t give up. Our relief pitchers kept us in the game and gave us a chance to rally.”
West kickstarted Wapakoneta’s comeback in the first, when his one-out RBI single came with the bases loaded and scored Landon Brandt for a 5-1 LCC advantage.
The Redskins went ahead 6-5 in the third as Childress led off and was safe at first on a dropped third strike. After a sacrifice bunt from Kyle Rex, Bauer moved Childress to third with a single to left field. After Bauer stole second, Childress scored on an error and Bauer reached third. A wild pitch sent Bauer to the plate as Wapakoneta trailed 5-3.
The inning continued with Landon Brandt receiving a walk ahead of Braeden Goulet’s RBI double. Kaden Siefring went to first on a walk before an RBI single from West drove in Goulet to force a 5-5 tie. Siefring scored the go-ahead run as Taylor Echols grounded into a 1-6 fielder’s choice.
The Thunderbirds made it a 6-6 tie in the fifth against Crow, when Quintel Peoples led off with a single, stole second and scored on a two-out RBI single from Connor Gephart.
LCC batted around against Redskins starter Ryan Camper in the first while taking a 5-0 lead. Peoples led off with a walk, stole second and went to third on a single from Gabe Cira. Billy Bourk’s grounder scored Peoples before Gephart followed with an RBI double, Matt Cira hit a run-scoring single, Jake Nieman was safe on an error and Braden Tarr added an RBI single.
“We did not come out ready to play in that first inning,” Coach Brandt said. “(Camper) did not have his best stuff and, overall, we were just flat. We were flat, defensively, and we were flat with our communication. Those are some things we need to do better.”
Crow sparked Wapakoneta when he came to the mound in the second by retiring the first six Thunderbirds he faced before Wapakoneta’s offense erupted for five runs and a 6-5 lead in the third.
Bauer entered the game in a 6-6 tie with a LCC runner on second and two outs in the sixth. He struck out Peoples to end the Thunderbirds’ threat.