St. John's Jesuit High School catcher Corey Tipton waits for the throw as Perrysburg's Steve Slocum scores the winning run in the 12th inning of their Division I baseball regional semifinal at BGSU's Steller Field.
BOWLNG GREEN — Perrysburg executed a perfect walk-off squeeze bunt in the top of the 12th inning to end a tremendous Division I regional semifinal baseball game Friday as the Yellow Jackets emerged with a 1-0 win over St. John’s Jesuit.
Kevin Schenk laid down the bunt with the bases loaded and one out. Steve Slocum slid in with the winning run as Titans pitcher Joe Robie bobbled the ball.
“I was feeling the nerves, but I knew I had to get it down for my teammates who had worked so hard for 12 innings,” Schenk said. “We hang our hat on that. There’s no better feeling than this.”
The dramatic walk-off hit capped a fierce pitchers duel between Perrysburg senior Alec Schmenk and St. John’s junior Jesse Adams. Both aces went toe to toe, throwing 10 innings of shutout ball before packed bleachers at Bowling Green State University’s Steller Field. Schmenk threw 112 pitches and struck out seven.
“I was able to locate my fastball really well,” Schmenk said. “[Adams] battled as hard as any pitcher I’ve seen.”
Adams, who fought through a back injury that he re-aggravated in the first inning, threw 119 pitches. Adams yielded just one hit and also fanned seven batters. Schmenk, featuring almost exclusively fastballs, allowed three hits.
Perrysburg’s Matt Kruzel relieved Schmenk and pitched two hitless innings.
Perrysburg (23-3) advances to play Strongsville in the D-I regional final Saturday here at 2 p.m. St. John’s (21-5) will play in the City League semifinals Sunday.
“This ranks right up there,” said Perrysburg coach Dave Hall, whose team is ranked No. 5 in the state and also advanced to the regional final last season. “I told my assistant coach that this must be a great game for fans, but it’s going to kill me. It’s the greatest feeling in the world other than having your kids born and when you get married. We knew it would be a 1-0 ball game. But we didn’t think it would go that far.
“We work on bunting a lot. I’ve bunted for 33 years. Our kids believe in it.”
St. John’s managed to get hits from Adams, Robie, and Dylan Willits. The Titans stranded seven runners. Matt Garbig and Hunter Smith had the other two hits for the Yellow Jackets, who left six on base.
St. John’s coach D.J. Eckhart said Adams has been fighting a torn tendon in his back for the last two weeks and aggravated it on a steal of third base in the first.
“He’s a gamer. He did not want to come out. So he was staying in there,” Eckhart said. “Alec also pitched a great game. He was hitting his spots. It’s a tough one for anyone to lose.”
St. John’s best threat came in the sixth, and it was thwarted by a questionable call. The Titans had a runner at second with one out, and Nate Pearson hit a grounder and appeared to beat the throw to first, but he was called out. Schmenk then got a pop out to end the inning.
“That blown call at first was a huge call,” Eckhart said. “In a game like this, every one of those is important.”
Adams stranded two runners in the bottom of the sixth. Schmenk worked out of a jam in the eighth with a strikeout and a fly out after the Titans had a runner on third.
Hall said he will start Kruzel Saturday.
“Matt was big. He threw strikes, and he was pumped,” he said. “Schenk went out and did what he does. We have the best pitching staff around. Our kids just responded.”