VAN WERT – The Van Wert Cougars welcomed the Wayne Trace Raiders to Russell Fisher Field at Smiley Park for boys’ non-conference baseball action on Monday evening. Monday night forever will be a milestone for Van Wert baseball coach Charlie Witten as the Cougars 10-0 victory was coach Witten's 200th win overall.
As has been the norm this season, Van Wert continued to get strong pitching on Monday. This time that performance came from Holden Willingham as Willingham held the Raiders to one hit through five innings.
“It was a good win for us; we started to swing the bats a little bit better," Witten said. "Holden did a good job of throwing strikes and the defense played well behind him. The last couple of games we have had too many errors, so it was good to see our guys playing good defense. I want to praise our guys for doing things the right way and putting the ball in play.”
The Cougars put the first seven runners on in the bottom of the second frame. Nate Temple reached via an error before James Acquaviva got on base with an infield hit. Acquavivia reached second base after an error that allowed Temple to score the first run of the ball game, 1-0 Van Wert. Evan Williams and Mason Carr each picked up RBIs in the bottom of the second as the Cougars jumped out to 4-0 lead. The inning featured four Wayne Trace errors as Van Wert sent 10 batters to the plate.
The Raiders put two runners to start the top of the fourth as Seth Yenser walked and Brady Stabler picked up a base hit. Willingham got popups to first baseman Temple and third baseman Lawson Blackmore. Willingham then induced a ground ball out to Blackmore, whose strong throw to Temple ended the Wayne Trace threat.
The bottom of the fourth was another big inning for the Cougars. Mason Carr and Hayden Maples got on base to start the fourth with a base hit and walk. Caleb Fetzer plated the first run of the inning with an RBI single. Jonathon Lee tripled to bring home another run, but Wayne Trace was able to prevent a second run from scoring on the hit as right fielder Haydn Gillett threw a strike to shortstop Grant Baumle who threw to catcher Korbin Slade to tag out the second Van Wert runner.
After Jake Lautzenheiser singled to bring home the ninth run of the game, starting pitcher Blaine Jerome was lifted for Reid Miller. The Raider defense had seven errors in the front four inning.
“We were playing a team that took advantage of our mistakes, and it comes down to fielding the ball and making a play, throwing the guy out at first or whatever the play calls for. When we didn’t do a good job of that today, Van Wert took advantage of it," Raider coach Ryne Jerome said. "We talked about correcting those mistakes and it’s a whole different ball game. If we correct those mistakes we are playing with a top team from the WBL and one of the best teams in Northwest Ohio.”
Willingham was able to retire the Raiders one-two-three in the top of the fifth to give Van Wert a 10-0 victory on Monday night.
“It’s a personal thing. It doesn’t take precedent over the team, but you get to think about all the coaches on my staff, our former players including seventh and eighth grade," Witten said, reflecting on his 200th win of his coaching career. "It's just nice to think about some of those guys I have had in the past and reflect on what we have done. It was a good moment for me, but hopefully we can get better as a team and move on from here.”
Wayne Trace drops to 1-9 on the year and Van Wert improves to 11-2 and ends a two game losing streak.
Wayne Trace 0
Korbin Slade c 2-0-0-0, Reid Miller 2b p 2-0-0-0, Blaine Jerome p 2b 2-0-0-0, Seth Yenser lf 1-0-0-0, Brady Stabler 1b 2-0-1-0, Grant Baumle ss 1-0-0-0, Haydn Gillet rf 2-0-0-0, Caleb Shaefer cf 2-0-0-0, Braden Zuber 3b 2-0-0-0 Total 16-0-1-0
Van Wert 10
Mason Carr cf 3-1-1-1, Hayden Maples c 3-1-0-0, Caleb Fetzer ss 3-1-1-1, Nate Temple 1b 3-1-0-0, James Acquiviva lf 3-1-1-0, Jonathon Lee rf 3-2-2-1, Holden Willingham p 1-2-0-1, Evan Williams dh Lawson Blackmore 3b 2-1-0-0, Jake Lautzenheiser 2b 3-0-2-1 Total 24-10-7-5
Wayne Trace 000 00 0 1 7
Van Wert 040 6X 10 7 1
Errors: Wayne Trace 7 (Zuber 3, Jerome 2, Baumle 2) Van Wert 1 (Fetzer) Triple: Van Wert (Lee) LOB: Wayne Trace 5 Van Wert 7 HBP: Willingham (By Jerome) Williams (By Jerome)
Blaine Jerome (LP) 3 2/3 innings 10 runs 6 earned runs 7 hits 2 hbp 2 walks 2 strikeouts
Reid Miller 1/3 walk
Holden Willingham (WP) 5 innings one hit 4 walks 2 strikeouts
Pitches-Strikes: Jerome 75-54, Miller 7-2, Willingham 68-41