By JIM METCALFE
DHI Media Staff Writer
ELIDA — Van Wert lost its first ACME District Tournament game Saturday morning at Ed Sandy Memorial Field in Elida.
The Cougars have battled back by winning the next two, including Saturday afternoon’s 8-3 victory over Lima Central Catholic to oust the Thunderbirds.
Van Wert (15-7) opened the scoring in the top of the first against LCC starter Bitler Rumer (4 1/3 innings, 4 hits, 4 earned runs, 5 bases-on-balls, 2 strikeouts). Justice Tussing led off with a double to deep left and scored on consecutive bounceouts to second by Joe Lisa and Brandt Henry.
The T-Birds retaliated with a run in the home half against Van Wert right-hander Kaleb Jenkins (6-plus IPs, 8 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned, 5 BBs, 5 Ks; 114 pitches, 72 strikes): a 1-out walk to Jacob Judy, a steal and a single to left by Liam Stolly.
“Kaleb pitched a great game. You could see him grow in confidence as the game wore on, starting to hit his spots more consistently,” Cougar ACME head coach Carlin Dunlap noted. “It seemed every time he needed a big out, he got it against a good team. On the other hand, we got a big 3-run double by Gavin (Gardner) in the fifth and that just seemed to open it up for us.”
LCC left a pair of runners on in the second, two of the 11 they stranded for the game.
The Cougars left a pair of runners on in the third (Ryan McCracken and Lisa).
Van Wert went up 3-1 in the fourth. Ryan Stoller singled to left, stole second and took third on a wild pitch. Caleb Fetzer walked. The Cougs turned a double steal to plate Stoller and put pinch-runner Bryan Mills at second. Mason Carr walked. An out later, McCracken forced Carr at second to put runners on the corners. Jenkins helped his own cause with a single to right to plate Mills for a 3-1 edge.
The T-Birds got within 3-2 in the home fourth on a 1-out strikeout in the dirt, allowing pinch-hitter Keaton Meyer to be safe, a Regan Altenbach single and a 2-out Judy double.