ARCHBOLD — The Northern Lakes League and NWOAL split Division II district showdowns on Thursday. No. 3 Bowling Green ushered in the day at Archbold’s Memorial Park with a 5-1 win over Bryan before Wauseon ousted its southern neighbor Napoleon, 1-0.
Wauseon and Bowling Green will play for a spot in Division II’s final 16 on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. The game was originally scheduled for 1 p.m. but moved up due to rain in the afternoon forecast.
Crafty Bowling Green senior righty Tucker Craft limited Bryan to 10 hits — all singles — while a big throw from left fielder Christian Peek and a three-run Micah Fry dinger paved the way for the Bobcats.
Wauseon sophomore ace Connar Penrod highlighted the nightcap that included a combined 21 stranded runners, 21 strikeouts, five errors and nine walked batters.
“He does a good job of working all over the strikezone, up, down and side to side,” said Napoleon mentor Jason Holubik of Penrod. “The kid’s good and has a bright future; he’s only a sophomore. This is the same kid who outdueled Central Catholic. He’s deceptively quick. I thought some of the fastballs that we chased were just good pitches. At the end of day, tip your cap to a kid that throws well.”
Wauseon was the culprit of 13 stranded runners while Napoleon left eight on base. The Indians, however, pushed across the only run of the night on a bases-loaded walk in the fifth inning.
“He’s been lights out the last few times out on the mound,” lauded Wauseon skipper Trent Thomas of Penrod, who also earned the victory over second-seeded Toledo Central Catholic last Friday in the sectional finals. “We didn’t field it well for him today; we had four errors. His pitch count went up because of that, but he was around the zone all day. He had trouble with the walks one inning.
“He’s the ultimate competitor,” added Thomas. “He wants to win at whatever he’s doing. Whether he’s walking around outside to beat someone to the bus or whatever, that’s him. As the game went on, I knew he was going to keep going as long as we could keep him out there. He got to 122 pitches (maximum allowed is 125); he was just as strong at the end.”
Penrod finished with 12 strikeouts while scattering three singles by the Wildcats.
His adversary, Napoleon junior Landon Willeman allowed three singles but seven walks derailed the Napoleon ace, who whiffed eight over five innings.
“Landon is very good,” expressed Thomas. “He’s going to do that to a lot of people. I didn’t like our approach, we struck out way too many times tonight. But again, against him, he’s going to do that. We were disciplined enough to get his pitch count up and him out of there. I was proud of our guys there.”
A lead-off single by Sam Krasula to start the fifth was followed by back-to-back walks. Willeman then recorded his seventh strikeout and first-bagger Caleb Farr made a nifty diving catch in foul territory for the second out. But No. 7 hitter Levi Krasula earned a bases-loaded RBI walk for the only run of the game.
“He really competed,” said Holubik of Willeman. “There were some pitches we weren’t fortunate enough to get. He wasn’t getting the breaking ball called for a strike and that hurt. He gave up a run on a walk and there was a timeout called late there that I wasn’t happy about. He was halfway through his motion and that’s not anybody’s fault. He’s lucky he didn’t get hurt on that play. And then what happens next? Back-to-back balls because he’s mad and it took him out of his rhythm.
“But in a game like this, you’ve got to find a way to win,” added Holubik. “We didn’t take advantage of their errors. There are some things I wished I had back as far as we like to bunt that we were kind of passive on. Landon competed and I didn’t think he had his best stuff.”
Fry’s homer was the only extra-base hit in either game, which salted away BG’s win in the opener. His long ball came with one out in the bottom of the sixth, extending a slim 2-1 edge to the decisive margin of 5-1.
“Micah has been doing that for us all year coming up big,” said BG mentor Jim Beaverson, a former standout on the diamond for fellow BG native Craig Rutter at Defiance College. “He was in the four hole following Kyle Jackson, who is one of the best hitters in the state. Micah gets an opportunity and he’s been doing that all year.”
Peek preserved the Bobcats’ 2-1 lead by gunning down Bryan’s Caleb Kepler, who pinch ran for Ethan Khandaker, at the plate from left in the fourth frame.
“Christian Peek did that last year in a game against Perrysburg from centerfield,” explained Beaverson. “He made a great play and it was a great tag by (catcher) Ryan Jackson, who is a freshman out there playing like a senior.”
An economical Craft needed just 79 pitches to earn the win.
“It was typical Tucker,” said Beaverson. “He’s always around the plate and never letting guys square the ball up. He saves his arm, throws the ball where they don’t square it up and our defense makes plays. I’d rather him get three outs on three pitches than three outs on nine pitches and three strikeouts.”
Bryan starter Dom James pretty much matched his counterpart. He yielded just six hits — all singles — while fanning four over five-plus frames. His day ended after allowing a lead-off walk in the sixth.
“He gave us a chance to win,” said Bryan skipper Jeff Inselmann. “Played really good defense. That’s a hell of a team; I’m real proud of our guys. We challenged them the other night because the energy and intensity wasn’t there. We got beat by a better team today; they got more clutch hits. But our guys left everything on the field and that’s all you could ask for.”
Following a walk and 5-4 fielders choice, Fry lofted a pitch high into a jet stream blowing out to left field for the three-run homer.
“Obviously, you’ve got to drive runs in,” said Inselmann. “We outhit them but they had clutch hits. Even early on when they answered back, probably the momentum changer was them throwing the kid out at the plate. I’m going to send him every time. Their kid made a play and executed and that kind of boosted them a little bit. We had a lot of chances with people on base, especially with the wind blowing out.”
Beaverson will likely give the ball to junior southpaw Luke Roberts (6-1, 1.00 ERA) on Saturday against the Indians.
“They are very, very, very, very good,” praised Thomas of the Bobcats. “They’ve got hitters up and down the lineup. They’ve got pitching depth. We’ll go with Eric Parker to start on the mound and Sean Brock will be right there waiting. They’re kind of our 2A guys. They threw earlier this week and got a short outing. That’s who’ll go for us and we’ll be ready to roll.”
Bryan 000 100 0 — 1 10 0
Bowling Green 000 203 x — 5 8 0
Records: Bowling Green 22-4, Bryan 17-11.
Winning pitcher: Tucker Craft (7 innings, 1 run, 10 hits, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts).
Losing pitcher: Dom James (5 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 4 strikeouts, 0 walks). Other: Zach Pittman.
Leading hitters: (Bryan) — Ethan Khandaker 2 singles; Dom James 2 singles; Connor Arthur 2 singles. (Bowling Green) — Micah Fry single, home run, 3 RBIs.
Napoleon 000 000 0 — 0 3 1
Wauseon 000 010 x — 1 3 4
Records: Wauseon 13-13, Napoleon 12-16.
Winning pitcher: Connar Penrod (7 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 12 strikeouts, 2 walks).
Losing pitcher: Landon Willeman (5 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 8 strikeouts, 7 walks). Other: Jake Smith.