HAMLER – The approach was simple. The landing was spectacular.
Wapakoneta’s surprisingly easy 11-1, run-rule win over Celina in a Division II baseball district semifinal at Patrick Henry on Thursday was nothing like the regular-season match-up between the two teams, which the Redskins won 4-3 in nine innings.
With Wapakoneta’s No. 1 starter, Manny Vorhees, and Celina’s Seth Lonsway, an Ohio State recruit with a low to mid-90s fastball, doing the pitching the expectation was that Thursday’s game would be another low scoring contest.
But after the Redskins scored a run without a hit in the bottom of the first inning and got another in the third inning, they scored nine runs in the fourth inning to send the game into run-rule territory.
Another difference was that Wapakoneta knew it was going to see a lot more of Lonsway than in the regular season, when he pitched only three innings against the Redskins.
As it turned out, Celina’s ace pitched only 1/3 of an inning more this time when Wapakoneta jumped on him for nine runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings.
“I thought we had great at-bats against Seth all day,” Wapakoneta coach Jason Brandt said.
“We didn’t talk a lot about approach with our kids. In my mind, our approach was we had to be a little patient with him because he has a tendency to be a little wild. Our guys did a good job of not chasing balls,” he said.
Right fielder Gage Schenk, one of three Wapakoneta players with two hits, said the approach to trying to hit a 90-plus mile an hour fastball is pretty simple.
“Just scoot back in the box,” he said. “I just saw a couple pitches and got them timed up.”
The Redskins went up 1-0 in the first inning when Nate Schroer walked, went to second base on a ground out and came home on a wild pitch and a passed ball.
In the third inning, Schenk led off with a single and was bunted to second before Maddux Liles singled. Schenk collided with the third baseman, and after a discussion by the umpires, he was awarded home plate because of defensive interference for a 2-0 lead.
After Celina (18-7) scored its only run in the bottom of the fourth, Wapakoneta sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth inning to put the game out of reach.
The big hits in the big inning were a three-run triple by Schroer and an over-the-fence home run by Mitch Apple.
Vorhees allowed three hits, struck out four and walked one. During the regular-season game against Celina, Schenk and Maddux Liles did the pitching for Wapakoneta.
“Manny is our No. 1, he has been for two years. When we played them the last time it wasn’t his turn in the rotation,” Brandt said.
“Manny was pretty good today. He had a couple times where he wasn’t great out there, but he came back and battled and our bats came alive,” he said.
Vorhees said, “I think the key for us all year has been great defense. Coming into this game we were prepared for Lonsway. We knew he was a good pitcher and throws hard so we prepared for it. When it came to this game we were ready for it. We just did our job and did what we do.
“Hopefully, we’re humble about this game and don’t let it get to our heads and take this momentum into the next game and see what we can do,” he said.
Wapakoneta (20-3) will have to wait until today to see who it plays in Saturday’s district championship game. The second semifinal at Patrick Henry on Thursday between Defiance and Maumee was rained out.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.