GREENVILLE – The Greenville varsity baseball team defeated the Huber Heights Wayne Warriors 8-6 in Division I Ohio High School Athletic Association first round tournament action on Tuesday in Greenville.
The green and white were up to the task with Austin Weimer taking the mound for the Wave and striking out the first batter of the contest.
“I was confident in the guys,” Greenville head coach Eric Blumenstock said. “Once (Austin) Weimer got out of the first inning and I saw he was throwing strikes, he was in the zone, I had a pretty good idea we was going to be able to handle this one.”
A Wayne double, a single and a sacrifice fly to Ethan Clark in left plated the first run of the game, giving the Warriors an early 1-0 lead.
“Wayne is building back up its program,” Wayne head coach Jason Stringfield said. “They are a good bunch of kids, and they don’t give up. We have the right group of kids, and they haven’t given up. Next year it would not shock me to hear a lot from Wayne High School baseball because we have a large group coming back.”
A diving Logan Eldridge catch in left had the Wave coming the plate only to go down quietly in the bottom of the first, trailing 1-0.
Greenville kept Wayne off the second inning board with an opening pop up to Kyle Bruner at first followed with a Warriors single to right.
Colton Nealeigh fielded a grounder at second, throwing to shortstop Ryan Eldridge and getting the lead runner for the second out.
A steal of second had a runner in scoring position with two outs as Weimer came up big with a strikeout, keeping the visitors off the second inning scoreboard.
Wave pinch hitter Austin Baumgardner reached first with one out in the bottom of the second by way of a hit batsman.
Freshman L. Eldridge rocketed a home run over the left field wall, giving the Green Wave their first lead of the contest with the teams heading to the top of the third with Greenville leading 2-1.
“Second shot of the year,” Blumenstock said. “He’s having a heck of a season for a freshman. He come up in some big clutch spots for us. It’s nice to have a kid down in the bottom of your order that has power like that.”
Wayne took the lead back in the top of the third with an opening double, a sacrifice fly tying the score at 2-2 and a Wave error plating a run with the Warriors up 3-2 with one out.
“Our outfield struggled a little bit on a couple plays,” Blumenstock said. “I talked to their coach … it was tough to play in the outfield today the way the sun was coming in from the left side. It made it kind of difficult to track them (fly balls).”
A ground out to R. Eldridge at short with the second out, a double to left and a fly ball to L. Eldridge in right had the Wave out of the inning trailing 3-2.
“All the way around it was a great defensive day for us,” Blumenstock said.
Bringing a .557 batting average to the plate, Nealeigh drilled a solo shot high above the fence in left, knotting the score at 3-3 with three innings in the books.
“Big time shot,” Blumenstock said. “About three-quarters of the way up the light pole. I’ve been waiting for that one. He’s been hitting everything real hard; he just hadn’t gotten that launch shot yet. Today was it.”
Clark corralled a fly to left for the first out of the fourth with the next two Warrior hitters reaching with the aid of an error and a walk.
A ground out to Cole Ward diving to his left at third and tagging the base runner going from second to third had the second out of the inning before Wayne took a 5-3 lead with a two-out single to center.
The Wave got a running catch of a short pop up from Ward at third for the final out of the inning with Greenville looking at a two-run deficit.
Baumgardner opened the bottom of the fourth taking first with an opening walk followed with a pop up for the first out of the inning.
Clark coaxed a walk, putting runners on first and second with the second out of the inning coming on a fielder’s choice, erasing Clark at second with runners on first and third.
Ward stepped to the plate batting in the two hole and legged out an infield RBI single, driving in Baumgardner from third while cutting the Warriors’ lead to 5-4 and keeping the inning alive.
“No. 34 (Cole Ward) had a key hit, a bouncer in the infield,” Wayne coach Stringfield said. “He’s too fast to throw out on that. If we throw him out, we’re out of the inning, and we gave up another run after that.”
Hitting in the third hole, Nealeigh promptly drove an RBI single to left, scoring Quinton Wood to even the score at 5-5 with the team heading to the fifth inning.
The Wave got three fifth inning outs from each of its outfielders, Clark in left, Wood in center and L. Eldridge in right to keep the score tied with the Wave coming to the plate.
The Wave opened fifth inning play with an out to center. Baumgardner followed with a solid single to center with coach Blumenstock bringing Brandon Beyke off the bench to pinch run for Baumgardner.
L. Eldridge followed with a deep fly ball to straight away center with the ball just glancing off the tip of a sprinting Wayne center fielder’s glove and going for a double to put runners on second and third as Beyke had to hold on the fly ball.
“Logan (Eldridge) drove that other ball into center field and went off the kid’s glove,” Blumenstock said. “It was a deep shot that was a huge hit for us.”
Hitting from the left side, Clark did his job, hitting to right side with the Warriors’ second baseman throwing home with speedy Beyke sliding safely at the plate to give Greenville the go-ahead run at 6-5.
A strikeout had Greenville looking at two outs with Ward at the plate, drilling a single to right-center to score L. Eldridge. Clark also scored on the play with a Wayne miscue on the throw giving the Wave an 8-5 lead.
With Ward standing on second with two outs the Warriors intentionally walked Nealeigh before a fly ball to left closed out the inning.
With Weimer having completed his job on the mound and getting the Wave through five, Blumenstock brought in his big right hander Austin Baumgardner to pitch the final two innings.
The Warriors got an opening single to left only to be thrown out at second attempting to stretch the single into a double for out No. 1.
A walk and a Baumgardner strikeout had the second out of the inning with the Warriors scoring an unearned run with a Wave error.
Ward fielded a grounder at third and threw across the diamond to a stretching Bruner at first for the final out of the inning with the Wave leading 8-6.
The Green Wave went down in order in the bottom of the sixth, bringing the Warriors to bat in the top of the seventh.
A fly to Wood in center had the first out of the inning followed with an infield high chopper going for a single.
Wayne was down to its last two outs with Baumgardner throwing a strikeout to get the second out.
Nealeigh cleanly fielded a grounder at second, throwing to Bruner at first for the final out and sealing an 8-6 Greenville tournament win.
“All around good effort today,” Blumenstock said. “Baumgardner came in and closed them down the last two.
“That’s how it has to be in tournament time,” coach Blumenstock continued. “Everybody is coming out here giving it the best they have. We are fortunate today that we came out ahead.”
The win marked the final game for nine Wave seniors at their Sater Park home field as the remaining 2014 OHSAA tournament action will be played on the road. Greenville’s next game is against Troy at 5 p.m. Thursday in Troy.