Perrysburg edged out Anthony Wayne on Monday in a fast-paced and tightly contested battle between two baseball teams unbeaten in the Northern Lakes League.
The Yellow Jackets turned two key double plays and knocked off the Generals 1-0 on the road behind a strong outing from senior pitcher Nick Munger.
Anthony Wayne, which had a run taken away on a disputed home run call in the third inning, also received a solid start from junior Josh Schwerer. Both pitchers worked quickly with good command as each gave up just six hits in complete-game efforts.
The Yellow Jackets (14-1) took over sole possession of first place in the NLL at 5-0, handing Anthony Wayne (10-2, 4-1) its first league loss.
“That was a great high school game,” Perrysburg coach Dave Hall said. “Both kids pitched well. It was fun to watch. We knew it would be a one-run game. Our kids played heads up with a couple of hustle plays. Our kids were ready. Defense and pitching is what we hang our hat on.”
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The Yellow Jackets scored the game’s only run in the second inning on two infield singles. A.J. Stockwell led off the inning with a single, then advanced to second on Nick Fleming’s sacrifice bunt. Then with two outs, Stockwell scored when Gus Dimmerling beat the throw to first on a slow roller up the middle.
The biggest and most controversial play came in the third. Tommy Eichenlaub looked to have led off the inning with a solo home run. The ball hit the top of the fence in center and bounced over. But the ball then hit the post of the scoreboard and ricocheted back on to the field. The first-base umpire ruled that it did not go over the fence, and Eichenlaub settled for a double instead.
“It’s a tough call,” AW coach Mark Nell said. “But the noncall on the home run wasn’t what cost us the game. We just didn’t execute. To beat a good baseball team like that, you have to execute.”
Added Hall: “That’s high school umpires. They are doing the best they can. That’s a tough angle.”
Perrysburg then ended the threat by turning a unique double play. Thomas Keyser laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached safely. Eichenlaub tried to score from second on the play, but Stockwell threw him out. Yellow Jackets catcher Kyle Durham then threw Keyser out at second to complete the double play.
The Yellow Jackets then escaped further trouble with another double play in the fourth. Munger struck out AW batter Alex Murphy, and Austin Kottenbrock was thrown out at second while attempting to steal.
“These are the moments you dream about, playing in games like this,” Munger said. “My team made a lot of plays for me. I was trying to throw strikes. We executed, and those were huge plays.”
The Generals had a golden opportunity to at least tie it in the seventh and send it to extra innings.
They had runners at first and third with one out. Nell called for a suicide squeeze bunt, but Hall countered with a pitch out. Anthony Wayne senior Tyler Deye could not get his bat on the ball, and pinch runner Vince Schneider — who was halfway down the line — was tagged out by Perrysburg third baseman Mark Delas. Deye then grounded out to end the game.
“We guessed right,” Hall said. “We would have pitched out again because we knew he would squeeze. It’s like coaching against myself sometimes.”
In the fifth, Anthony Wayne had runners at the corners, but Munger ended it with a flyout to center.
“Both pitchers threw well enough to win,” Nell said. “They play good defense too. Those are the little things, and it didn’t work out our way.”
The Generals lost 13 seniors to graduation and were picked to finish fourth.
“We’ve been playing with a chip on our shoulder,” Nell said.
Perrysburg, which won an NLL title in 2011 when the Yellow Jackets finished as state runner-up, was picked to finish second.
“They are a good ballclub, and this is far from over,” Hall said.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.