Van Wert’s Nathan Temple (19) connects with a pitch during the Cougars’ 15-5 Western Buckeye League win over Shawnee at Smiley park on Tuesday evening. Temple drove in four runs in the game. (DHI Media/John Parent)
Van Wert’s Nathan Temple (19) connects with a pitch during the Cougars’ 15-5 Western Buckeye League win over Shawnee at Smiley park on Tuesday evening. Temple drove in four runs in the game. (DHI Media/John Parent)
VAN WERT — It has been a heck of a week already for Van Wert baseball coach Charlie Witten. A day after celebrating his 200th career win – a 10-0 shutout of Wayne Trace – his Cougars scored eight runs in the opening inning and went on to a 15-5 5-inning win over Lima Shawnee on Tuesday.

The offensive outburst served as a birthday present for Witten, who was happy to come away with a Western Buckeye League win as a gift, even if the play was more sloppy than he would have liked.

“A win is a win, no matter how ugly it is” Witten said after the game. “In the last two games, we have done someting that we hadn’t done in a while, and that’s swing the bats real well; that’s definitely a positive to take out of these two days.”

There were some negatives, too. The Cougars committed four errors and allowed four unearned runs as Shawnee pulled to as close as 10-5 after trailing 10-1 early.

“I’m kind of looking forward to two days of practice,” Witten said. “We’ve got no games scheduled [Wednesday] and Thursday. We’ll be practicing and hopefully we can get some of these defensive things shored up.”

After Cougar starter Caleb Fetzer needed just six pitches to retire the Indians in the first, Van Wert took aim at Shawnee right hander Tyler Golden. The rally began with one out when Hayden Maples singled up the middle. Fetzer was hit by a pitch, and Nate Temple wasted no time in drilling a double to the deepest part of Fisher Field, scoring both runners.

After a pop up for the second out, Van Wert continued to attack, and was aided by a Shawnee mistake. Jonathon Lee reached on an error, which brought Maples in to score, and Holden Willingham singled. Evan Williams then dropped a bloop double down the left field line, driving home Lee, and Jake Lautzenheiser scorched a rocket down into the left field corner for a 2-run double of his own. A Mason Carr single put runners at the corners and marked the end of the day for Golden, who was replaced by Jake Lehman on the mound.

“This was a decent pitcher, and the kind we have struggled with – a kid who throws curveballs and throws kind of slow, we have struggled against that kind of kid lately,” Witten said. “They made adjustments and did a real good job swinging the bats today.”

Lehman provided little relief for the Indians. He walked Maples on four pitches to load the bags, then balked home the seventh Cougar run. After Fetzer walked to reload the bases, Temple drew a walk of his own, forcing in another run. All eight were charged to Golden, who recorded only two outs in the game.

Van Wert chased Lehman with two more runs in the second, those coming thanks to five walks (four by Lehman).

Shawnee didn’t go quietly; though they tried to.

Two Cougar errors in the second inning led to Fetzer having to labor through 27 pitches. In addition to the defensive miscues, Fetzer was less sharp than usual, though he struck out the side in the inning. In the third, it was more of the same for Van Wert. After retiring the first two batters, Fetzer saw the inning extended when Jake Hutchins reached on an error. After a wild pitch – one of three in the game by Fetzer – Tyler Hall doubled home a run and eventually scored on another wild pitch. Two walks and another error kept the inning alive and meant the end of the road for Fetzer, who needed 71 pitches to get through 2 2/3 innings.

“He’s thrown a lot of pitches in a few games this year, and it always just seems like he gets out of it,” Witten said, speaking of difficult innings. “Today, he couldn’t get out of it all the time. But Jake Lautzenheiser, give him credit, he’s just a sophomore coming in there with the bases loaded and one out and threw strikes.”

Lautzenheiser inherited a mess, but responded with a strikeout of Justin Behnke before getting Kale Ebling to pop up for the final out of the inning.

After going quietly in the third, the Cougars plated a pair of runs in the fourth, then closed the game by scoring three times in the home half of the fifth, with Temple driving an RBI single to right to score pinch runner Jalen McCracken with the game-ending run.

Fetzer finished with three RBIs while Temple drove in four.

“It was a good team win,” Witten said. “There is a lot of stuff to work on, but at the same time, we’re happy with where we’re at right now at 12-2.”

***

SHAWNEE (5)

Tyler Golden p 1-0-0-0 x-Jake Lehman p 1-0-0-0 x-Justin Behnke 2b 2-0-0-0, Kale Ebling 2b 4-1-1-0, Johnny Caprella ss 3-0-1-0, Jake Hutchins 1b 3-2-1-0, Tyler Hall dh (Wolffe 3b) 3-1-3-2, Kyle Kaplan lf 1-1-0-0, Jared Thomas cf 2-0-0-0, Nick May rf 3-0-0-0, Jake Cowan c 2-0-0-0; Totals 25-5-6-2

VAN WERT (15)

Mason Carr cf 3-3-1-0, Hayden Maples c 4-1-2-0 x-Jalen McCracken pr 0-1-0-0, Caleb Fetzer p 2-2-1-3, Nate Temple 1b 3-1-2-4, James Aquaviva lf 3-0-0-0, Jonathon Lee rf 1-2-0-1, Holden Willingham 3b 3-2-1-0, Evan Williams dh (Lawson Blackmore ss) 4-2-2-1, Jake Lautzenheiser 2b 1-1-1-2 x-Cade Chiles pr 0-0-0-0 x-TJ Reynolds c 0-0-0-0; Totals 24-15-10-11

E– Caprella, Ebling, Fetzer, Blackmore 2, Willingham; 2B– Hall, Temple, Williams, Lautzenheiser; SAC– Reynolds; HBP– Fetzer (by Golden), Lee (by Caprella), Lautzenheiser (by Caprella); LOB– Shaw 9, VW 10

Shawnee 013 10 - 5 6 2

Van Wert 820 23 - 15 10 4

*game-ending run scored with one out in fifth

Pitching ip-h-r-er-bb-k

Van Wert

Fetzer 2.2-2-4-0-4-3

Lautzenheiser (W) 1.1-4-1-1-0-2

Maples 1.0-0-0-0-0-0

Shawnee

Golden (L) 0.2-5-8-2-0-0

Lehman 0.2-0-2-2-7-0

Caprella 3.0-1-4-2-5-1

Behnke 0.0-3-1-1-0-0

*Behnke pitched to three batters in the fifth

Balk– Lehman; WP– Golden, Lehman, Caprella 2, Fetzer 3; Pitches-strikes– Golden 26-19, Lehman 43-14, Caprella 70-30, Behnke 8-6, Fetzer 71-40, Lautzenheiser 29-22, Maples 5-4