Wapakoneta Redskins junior Kodi Morgan (14) knocks down a bunt Thursday against the Fostoria Redmen in a Division II high school baseball sectional final at Wapakoneta High School. Morganâ€™s bunt moved the game-tying run to second base. (Staff photo/Michelle Frank)
The Wapakoneta Redskins finally put one solid inning together in their final at-bat to notch a come-from-behind win Thursday in their first tournament game of the 2014 season.
Although they committed five defensive errors, the Redskins held the visiting Fostoria Redmen scoreless the final four innings before tallying three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 5-3 lead.
Fostoria’s tying run appeared at the plate with two outs in the top of the seventh in the visitors’ final at-bat, but the Redmen couldn’t muster a rally, so Wapakoneta emerged a 5-3 winner in a Division II high school baseball sectional final Thursday at Wapakoneta High School.
After the Redskins cut their deficit in half to 3-2 in the bottom of the third, Fostoria starting pitcher Trey Yates charged through the Wapak lineup two full times unscathed.
Yates survived a pair of two-out singles in the fourth and fifth innings.
The Redskins, however, broke through in the bottom of sixth inning.
Nate Kaeck singled with zero outs and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Kodi Morgan. Nick Bruns singled up the middle to score Kaeck, tying the game at 3-3.
Keaton Metz bunted for a single, with Bruns advancing to second base, then Jarrett Koch doubled to right field, bringing home Bruns for the go-ahead run.
Two hitters later, Adam Henderson batted in Koch to extend the Redskins’ lead to 5-3.
“The key was being aggressive finally in the sixth inning. I don’t think we had a good approach the first four or five innings for most of our guys.”
The fifth and final Wapak error came in the top of the seventh with two outs, allowing Hunter Abell to reach second base.
Redskins starting pitcher Chace Culver recorded a strikeout for the final out of an inning four straight times to end the game Thursday. He fanned Alex Jackson to seal the win.
“We were not being aggressive,” Brandt said. “They’re physical, yes, but they’re more mental because we didn’t flush it. We let one lead to another. We told our boys that five errors will not win us another game. We were fortunate to win that game after we had five errors, because Fostoria did everything right against us. We kicked ourselves around a little bit. Luckily for us, we came through in the sixth offensively.”
The Redskins nearly faced a larger deficit entering the bottom of the sixth.
With two outs, Fostoria loaded the bases with the help of an error, its first hit off of Culver since the second inning and a hit-by-pitch. Culver had Fostoria leadoff hitter Lance Smith down 0-2 before going to a full count, only to come back and notch a called third strike.
Wapak posted the game’s first run in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Quinn Lotridge was hit-by-pitch and scored on a line-drive triple by Henderson over the center fielder’s head.
Culver had various issues in the second and third innings Thursday. The Redskins’ ace was not his usual self.
He hit a batter and allowed back-to-back hits in the second and walked three Redmen in the third.
Fostoria was afforded an unearned run in the second for its first score.
After a double play, Robbie Crotty singled with two outs. Noah Hammer singled to right field. Upon reaching third base, Crotty ran home when the relay throw from the outfield was dropped.
The Redmen added two more unearned runs in the third.
Donovon Vogel walked and reached second base on a passed ball before Culver issued another walk, to Lance Smith. After an infield fly and a groundout, Culver walked Hunter Abell to load the bases.
Vogel and Smith each scored after consecutive errors by the Redskins’ defense, putting the Redmen ahead 3-1.
Wapak’s final bit of success early against Yates came in the bottom of the third.
Henderson doubled with one out for his second straight extra-base hit. Two batters later, Culver singled to left field, scoring Henderson. Culver reached second on an overthrow to home plate but was stranded when Yates forced Nate Kaeck to line out after a seven-pitch at-bat.
The Redskins totaled 10 hits against Yates and earned all five runs. Yates walked two and struck out one.
“We scouted Fostoria last week, and we saw Yates throw,” Brandt said. “We knew he would keep our guys out front if we weren’t able to force ourselves back. He did a great job of that through probably five innings, keeping our guys out on their front foot. We practiced all week against slower pitching trying to stay back. I know it’s hard but, finally, there in the sixth inning we broke through.”
Culver allowed three runs (one earned), three hits, three walks and two hit batsmen. He struck out six.
“He is the heart and soul of our pitching staff,” Brandt said. “He battled out there. He didn’t have his best stuff by any means but as the game went on he got better. His changeup started getting over for strikes for him.
“He’s a senior. You expect that out of him. He’s pitched in a ton of big games for us over the last three years — districts, regionals or state. He’s been unbelievable. That’s the kind of leader you want to have out there.”
With the win, the Redskins advanced to a district semifinal to be played at 4:30 p.m. next Thursday against Celina or Columbian, who are scheduled to play today after being postponed Thursday.
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