Wynford edges Upper, 3-2
BUCYRUS — Wynford No. 8 hitter Dustin Pfeiffer was hitless through four at-bats with a pair of strikeouts in Wednesday’s Division III sectional final game against Upper Sandusky at Bucyrus, so it would not have been questioned if his coaches had decided to pinch-hit for him.
Instead, they stuck with their designated hitter, who came through with the game-winning, one-out hit in the bottom of the 11th inning to make the Royals a 3-2 winner against the Rams.
“We kind of talked about pinch-hitting him because he was struggling so much, but Dustin just has the ability to get that key hit, so we gave him a chance and he’s the kid that made the coaches look good,” Wynford coach Jon Amicone said. “I’m very proud of Dustin for having a tough day and being able to come back and get a bit hit when we needed the most.”
Brock Williamson led off the inning with a double to the left field fence and took third on Gage Roe’s groundout to shortstop, scoring easily when Pfeiffer lined the ball into center field to push the Royals (13-10) into the district semifinals at 2 p.m. May 17 against Huron at Heidelberg University in Tiffin.
For Upper Sandusky, the extra-inning sectional final defeat at Bucyrus was all too familiar. The Rams dropped a 5-4 decision in 10 innings to state-ranked No. 2 Bucyrus in the sectional finals last year. And again, it was a game in which the Rams did the things they thought they would have to do to earn a victory.
“We talked to the kids about an errorless game and we had an errorless game,” Upper Sandusky coach Keith Miller said. “It’s unusual when you come out on the losing end of that. We had an opportunity to shut the door on them throughout. One more strike and we would have had them. We just weren’t able to close the door when we needed to.”
Upper Sandusky (9-12) twice had leads, scoring the game’s first run in the top of the sixth, only to have Wynford tie it in the bottom of the inning, and then taking a one-run lead to the bottom of the 10th inning.
Adam Hartz had a one-out single, stole second and moved to third on Taran Stuckman’s groundout. In this case, it was Jerad Butler who came through, lining a two-strike single into right field to keep the Royals alive.
“It’s unfortunate in games like this somebody has to lose,” Amicone said. “We were extremely fortunate, but our kids continued to claw and fight and show the kind of integrity our team has. I wish I had the words to tell them just how proud I am of them.”
Both starting pitchers were outstanding, each allowing just one run. Wynford’s Chase Lantz surrendered just two hits and five walks with six strikeouts in seven innings, before giving way to Hartz, who allowed just an unearned run on one hit and two walks with six strikeouts in four innings.
Justin Mattix went eight innings for the Rams, allowing seven hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. Andy Meddings was tagged with the loss, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk with one strikeout in 2 1/3 innings.
Lantz did not give up a hit and faced the minimum number of hitters until the fifth inning when Mattix dropped a single just in front of a diving center fielder. The Rams scored their first run in the sixth when Adam Durress drew a one-out walk, moved to second on Daniel Newell’s bunt single, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Mark Walton’s groundout.
Wynford got the run back in the bottom of the inning. Hartz drew a one-out walk, took second on a Stuckman infield single and scored when Williamson singled into right field with two outs.
Duress reached on a one-out error in the 10th, took second on a passed ball and scored on a two-out single by Walton to put Upper Sandusky on top, 2-1.
“It’s a tough one, like last year when we played at Bucyrus,” Miller said. “It’s the same kind of thing going on, but we’re proud of the kids. They played hard.”
Williamson finished with three hits to lead all players, while Hartz and Stuckman had two each.
“It’s no question the biggest win of my coaching career and I’ll never forget what the kids did for me here today,” Amicone said.
The teams meet two more times in the next two days in North Central Conference action, at 4:30 p.m. today at Upper Sandusky and at the same time Friday at Wynford.
Score by innings
Upper Sandusky 000 001 000 10 — 2 3 1
Wynford 000 001 000 11 — 3 11 1
WP: Hartz (2-1); LP: Meddings (2-3).
2B: Williamson (W), Roe (W).
By LONNIE McMILLAN