MINSTER — A bases-loaded squeeze play gone awry turned out to be a winning play for the Minster baseball team.
Fort Recovery couldn’t execute a rundown between home plate and third base after Minster’s runners took off and a pitch went wide beyond what hitter Max Huber could bunt. The Indians threw the ball down the line — where the covering shorstop was sprinting to get the bag — to allow Brandon Hoying to cross home plate for the 1-0 win in the bottom of the eighth inning at Hanover Street Park on Tuesday evening.
“You have to take advantage of mistakes and there weren’t a lot of mistakes in this eight-inning baseball game,” Minster head coach Mike Wiss said.
“I think a lot of this game goes to the zeroes up on the board the pitchers who put them up there,” Wiss said. “And the defense that played. That’s is a very nice baseball team over there that Jerry has brought along for a long time now. They’ve put it together.”
A night after runs-a-palooza — a 32-0 win at Jackson Center — the Wildcats only mustered one run against the stingy pitching of Kent Reitz and Jackson Hobbs, but it was enough as Minster pitching threw its second straight shutout and the defense shined by turning two key double plays to end innings.
“The big one was the double play in the fifth on the ground ball to J.R. Nixon at first over to second and back to Matthew Trushaw covering at first,” Wiss said. “ What a nice defensive play.”
Matthew Trushaw and Drew Ripploh combined for the win on the mound, with Trushaw going the first five innings before giving way to the bullpen.
Minster scrapped for a run in the eighth after Brandon Hoying beat out an infield chopper for a base hit. J.R. Nixon bunted him over to second, followed by an intentional walk of Clay Brown and a hit by pitch taken by pinch hitter Brad Walterbush.
Much like the disparity in runs over the last two nights, Minster’s season has been an up and down one. After a 1-7 start, Minster roared to above .500 and now has been right there at the .500 mark after some tough walk-off losses to top area teams. But Wiss said this group keeps fighting.
“It’s been one of those seasons. When you’re 1-7 and work your way back to 9-7 and now we’re flirting with .500 every day. But you learn to be proud of them. It’s a good group of kids and they’re working hard. We’ve had two opportunities with those orange banners that things start to go your way. I hope for that again.”
Minster and Fort Recovery could quite easily meet again in less than two weeks in tournament play. If both Minster and Fort Recovery win their games as higher seeds in the sectional title games at home, Minster and Fort Recovery would meet on May 21 in Coldwater at the district level.
“The first guy through the line in our handshakes after the game said ‘See you in a week and a half’” Wiss said. “They know it and we know it. That said, Spencerville is a nice team. You have to play every day. Especially this group. This group can’t take anything for granted.”
If it does happen, Tuesday’s game could mean another exciting contest between a Minster team that has been one of the state’s best and a Fort Recovery team aiming to get to that level.