July 28, 2014

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Cougars stay alive in Districts
Written by Jim Metcalfe   
Sunday, July 06, 2014 8:00 PM
Ryan McCracken goes the other way with this pitch during Saturday ACME action at Elida. (DHI Media/Jim Metcalfe)

By JIM METCALFE

DHI Media Sports Editor

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ELIDA — With their backs to the wall — win or go home for the summer — Van Wert lefty Ryan Stoller held down St. Marys Memorial enough for a 6-4 victory in the losers’-bracket ACME District tournament Saturday afternoon at Ed Sandy Memorial Field at the Elida Athletic Complex.

Stoller threw a 112-pitch complete game (73 strikes), ceding seven hits and four earned runs. He walked five and fanned 10.

The Roughriders, who end the summer season 10-3, got 4-plus frames out of right-hander Derek Jay (7 hits, 5 runs, 4 earned, 3 BBs, 1 K) and two innings from lefty Michael Hastreiter (1 unearned run, 1 BB, 1 K).

Brandt Henry led the Cougar offense in going 3-for-3 (2 runs), while Justice Tussing was 2-for-4 (2 runs).

Dustin Howell was 2-for-3 for the Roughriders, while Tristan Becker was 2-for-4.

“It didn’t take a lot for this team to bounce back after a tough loss in the opener (4-1 to LCC). There’s great leadership on this team,” Cougar coach Carlin Dunlap noted. “We’ve battled all year and today was no different. We got great pitching performances both games today, especially Ryan. He pitched backwards today because St. Marys is such a good-hitting team. He kept them off-balance.”

Van Wert went up 1-0 in the bottom of the first. Tussing chopped a hit up the gut to lead it off, Joe Lisa walked and Henry bunted his way aboard to load them up. Stoller flied out to left to get Tussing across the dish.

Memorial tied it in the top of the second on 1-out 2-baser by Dustin Howell and a 2-out chopper to center by Michael Hastreiter.

The Cougars broke a 1-1 tie in the home third. Tussing beat out an infield hit to third, Lisa sacrificed him up a base and he scored on Henry’s double to left.

The Cougars got three big tallies in the fifth. Lisa’s liner to right got it started and Henry chopped one to left. Stoller bunted them up; an error on the play left bases loaded. A wild pitch plated Lisa and moved the others up a base, from where they scored on a 2-run double to left by Caleb Fetzer for a 5-1 edge. That finished Jay.

 
Almirola wins rain-cut NASCAR race at Daytona
Written by Associated Press   
Sunday, July 06, 2014 8:00 PM

By MARK LONG

Associated Press

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — It had been more than 15 years since the iconic No. 43 drove to Victory Lane.

So waiting through two days of thunderstorms and three red flags was relatively easy for Aric Almirola and his Richard Petty Motorsports team.

Almirola won the rain-delayed and rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, putting Petty’s famed blue car back on top for the first time since 1999.

Almirola’s first Cup win came on the same weekend Petty celebrated the 30th anniversary of his 200th career win. The 30-year-old Almirola was just a baby when Petty picked up that milestone victory.

“The 43 car is without a doubt the most famous car in our sport’s history,” Almirola said. “And to have that opportunity to drive that race car has been really special from the day that I stepped foot in it. All I wanted to do from the very first time I drove it was get it to Victory Lane. It took two and a half years I guess but I finally did it.”

Petty wasn’t around for the festivities, having already left Daytona during one of the many delays. He didn’t miss much considering steady rain put a slight damper on the post-race party.

NASCAR, though, patched through the 7-time NASCAR champion nicknamed “The King” on a conference call afterward and talked about how he never lost faith despite years of struggles as a team owner.

“If you look back at the history of Petty Enterprises and all the turmoil we’ve been through, I never gave up on the thing,” Petty said. “It was one of those deals I said, ‘OK, if I keep working at it long enough, we’re going to be able to overcome all of this.’ Just because we won a race doesn’t mean we’ve overcome it, don’t get me wrong. But it puts in a higher speed track. You know you can do it.

“Everybody’s got to have a start and I think this will be starting it pretty good.”

The Coke Zero 400 was originally scheduled to go off Saturday night but steady rain forced it to be postponed a day. When it did finally get started Sunday, it was interrupted several more times.

There were three red flags, two of them because of huge accidents that took out most of the 43-car field and several top contenders. Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch were among those knocked out of contention.

Biffle and Kahne started the second massive wreck, a 25-car fiasco that ended with Busch getting flipped upside-down in his No. 18 Toyota.

“It just felt like a slow carnival ride,” Busch said.

 
Reds, Indians win
Written by Associated Press   
Sunday, July 06, 2014 8:00 PM

Bruce HR breaks slump, sends Reds over Brewers 4-2

By JOE KAY

Associated Press

 

CINCINNATI — Jay Bruce had hit the ball hard twice, only to see the worst slump of his career get deeper. He finally ended it with a hit that nobody was going to take away.

Bruce emerged from his 0-for-26 skid with a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning on Sunday, rallying Mat Latos and the Cincinnati Reds over the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2.

Bruce flied out to the wall in center field and lined out to center earlier in the game, so he took a little confidence into his game-changing at-bat.

“I knew I wasn’t going to go 0-for-my-career,” Bruce said. “I’d been making hard contact. I really didn’t feel like I was 0-for-so-much.”

The Reds gained a game on the NL Central leaders by taking two of three in their series, moving to six back. Cincinnati has won 10 out of 15 overall.

“That could have easily gone the other way,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We really didn’t want to lose ground on this team.”

The Brewers have lost five of six but still have the NL’s best record and a comfortable lead.

Bruce hit a 2-run shot with one out off left-hander Will Smith (1-2), who took over for Yovani Gallardo. Smith hadn’t allowed a homer to a left-handed batter all season, holding them to a .143 average.

Smith got ahead 1-2 in the count, then threw a fastball that was up. Bruce pulled it to right field, the part of Great American Ball Park closest to the Ohio River.

A replay review overturned Ramon Santiago’s inside-the-park homer in the Reds second.

A fan reached his mitt onto the field and hit rightfielder Logan Schafer’s glove as he tried to catch the fly ball in front of the wall. The umpires initially ruled the ball in play and Santiago circled the bases as Schafer and the ball fell to the ground.

Following a 3-minute, 46-second review, Santiago was ruled out because of the fan’s interference.

Latos (2-1) allowed two runs and four hits in a season-high eight innings. Jonathan Broxton pitched the ninth for his sixth save in eight chances. Closer Aroldis Chapman wasn’t available because he slightly pulled a hamstring while running in the outfield before the game.

Both teams were missing stars.

 
Belgium is just better — it’s not a crime
Written by Jim Metcalfe   
Saturday, July 05, 2014 8:00 PM

By JIM METCALFE

Sports Editor

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What to make of the United States losing a 2-1 heart-breaker in the World Cup quarterfinals to Belgium?

I will lend my voice — or my keyboard, since this is a computer — to the many that have praised the work of long-time US goalkeeper Tim Howard.

He was outstanding/awesome/incredible — some might even write mediocre! — against incredible pressure, especially considering the circumstances and environment in which the teams squared off.

Let’s face it: the Americans would have lost in regulation had it not been for his heroics, the Belgians were that dominant.

At some point, though, when you give a team as skilled as Belgium that many chances — that many relatively open looks — you could have an octopus back there and he wouldn’t be able to stop all of them.

I put the “blame” where it belongs: in the midfield and back line.

Even there, it isn’t so much blame — they are very competent players we have in those spots and they belong on the World Cup roster — as a lack of real execution of the game plan.

The reason the Belgians had so many good looks is because our team’s ball possession was so poor.

Ask any coach around here — or any where, for that matter, at any level — and they will tell you that you can run the most sophisticated schemes, have the greatest “shapes” — a word that gets bandied about a lot during the World Cup — in their offensive or defensive sets but it doesn’t matter if you never have the ball.

I for one just think it came down to the better team winning the match.

Their players simply have worked at the game a lot longer and a lot more than “our” boys; they have grown up with it and played it at a higher level for a lot longer.

 
Cougars stay alive in ACME Districts
Written by Jim Metcalfe   
Saturday, July 05, 2014 8:00 PM

By JIM METCALFE

DHI Media

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ELIDA — With their backs to the wall— win or go home for the summer — Van Wert lefty Ryan Stoller held down St. Marys Memorial enough for a 6-4 victory in the losers’-bracket ACME District tournament Saturday afternoon at Ed Sandy Memorial Field at the Elida Athletic Complex.

Stoller threw a 112-pitch complete game (73 strikes), ceding seven hits and four earned runs. He walked five and fanned 10.

 
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