Logan Collins of Van Wert touches home plate as the ball falls from the mitt St. Marys catcher Ethan Wedding. (DHI Media/Joe Dray)
Logan Collins of Van Wert touches home plate as the ball falls from the mitt St. Marys catcher Ethan Wedding. (DHI Media/Joe Dray)
CELINA — In an Acme District 5 tournament game split between two days and two fields, Van Wert topped St. Mary’s 9-3, earning the Cougars a berth in this weekend’s state tournament in Coldwater. Van Wert will play Minster at 2:30 Saturday in the second of four quarterfinals.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Cougar coach Ivan Maples. “This is my first year doing it. I’m kinda speechless to be honest with you. They played really, really well. As a team they came together. It was great.”

A sudden rain had halted Monday’s game at Shawnee in the top of the sixth with Van Wert leading 5-2, runners at first and third, two outs. Because of the artificial turf at Celina, the game resumed there Tuesday evening and between two downpours, the game was squeezed in.

The Cougars started Monday action on a roll with four first-inning runs on four hits, three of them doubles. That was not at all indicative of things to come, as Roughrider starter Braeden Trogdlon found his groove. Van Wert didn’t threaten again until the sixth when a double by DH Kaiden Bates and a single by second baseman Jacob Place produced another run.

Meanwhile, Cougar starter Owen Treece held St. Mary’s in check, although he didn’t have nearly the command he had earlier in the tournament when he beat the Riders 2-1 while throwing only 70 pitches in seven innings. This time, Treece required 91 pitches (52 strikes) in only five innings. Nevertheless, he got the big pitches when he needed them, holding the Riders to two runs, both earned, on four hits while walking four and striking out five.

St. Mary’s scored a run in the third and another in the fifth. They had mounted another threat in the fourth, but a perfect rifle shot from leftfielder Ries Wise nailed a Rider runner at the plate. Thus, Van Wert left Lima and went to Celina with a 5-2 lead.

Of course, neither Trogdlon nor Treece could pitch on Tuesday, and the domino effect created several other position changes as well. Reese Sweigart replaced Trogdlon on the hill, and Parker Conrad did likewise for Treece.

Sweigart escaped the top of the sixth without further damage, and St. Mary’s immediately jumped on Conrad in the bottom half. The Riders started with doubles by Trey Fisher and Andrew Ibrahim to get within 5-3. However, Conrad escaped with no further damage, thanks largely to a nice inning ending play by shortstop TJ Reynolds.

Van Wert pretty much ended the suspense in the top of the seventh with four runs. Reynolds led off with a hit-by-pitch, and Conrad walked, to be replaced by pinch runner Hunter Bolenbaugh. Reynolds got to third on a balk, and Bolenbaugh took second without a throw. Reynolds scored on a passed ball, and Bolenbaugh came in on an errant pickoff throw to make it 7-3.

First baseman Turner Witten ripped a single up the middle for his third hit of the game, and he was replaced by pinchrunner Logan Collins. After catcher Treece fouled out, Bates walked. Place poked an opposite-field single to right. The throw home appeared to have Collins beaten, but it escaped the catcher, allowing both Collins and Bates to score — 9-3, Cougs.

Conrad retired St. Mary’s 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh, the game ending on a dandy backhand stab and throw by second baseman Place.

“He (Conrad) came out and struggled a little bit, then he started to hit his groove,” said Maples. “Once he hit his groove, I knew we were in good shape. Then once we scored a couple of runs, I knew we were in really good shape. It was great to see the boys just keep hitting. Defensively, we made a couple of good plays, too.”

Van Wert (ab-r-h-rbi)

Keaton Brown cf 4-0-1-0, TJ Reynolds c/ss 2-2-0-0, Parker Conrad 3b/p 2-1-0-0, Hunter Bolenbaugh pr 0-1-0-0, Turner Witten 1b 4-1-3-3, Logan Collins pr 0-1-0-0, Owen Treece p/c 4-1-1-0, Kaiden Bates dh 3-2-2-1, Jacob Place 2b 4-0-2-2, Levi Eddins rf 4-0-0-0, Ethan Rupert ss/3b 3-0-1-0, Ries Wise lf 0-0-0-0. Totals 30-9-10-6.

St. Mary’s (ab-r-h-rbi)

Adam Tobin ss 3-0-0-0, Ty Kiehl ss 1-0-0-0, Braeden Trogdlon p/cf 4-1-2-1, Henry Spencer 1b 2-0-1-0, Dylan Trogdlon rf 4-0-0-0, Carson Fischbach cf 3-0-0-1, Reese Sweigart p 0-0-0-0, Logan Hale 3b 4-0-0-0, Dakota Bensman dh 1-0-0-0, Zach Hesse pr 0-0-0-0, Trey Fisher dh 1-1-1-0, Ethan Wedding c 0-0-0-0, Andrew Ibrahim lf 2-1-1-1, Derek Fisher 2b 3-0-1-0. Totals 28-3-6-3.

Errors: Rupert 2, Wedding 2. PB: Wedding. Sac Fly: Fischbach. SB: Treece, Bates, Ibrahim, Reynolds. HBP: Conrad (by Trogdlon), Reynolds (by Sweigart). Doubles: Brown, Witten, Treece, Bates, Trey Fisher, Ibrahim. LOB: VW 6, SM 9.

Van Wert 400 001 4 - 9 10 2

St. Mary’s 001 011 0 - 3 6 2

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so)

Treece (W) 5-4-2-2-4-5.

Conrad (S) 2-2-1-1-0-0.

B. Trogdlon (L) 5.2-8-5-5-2-5.

Sweigart 1.1-2-4-2-0-0.

Balk: Sweigart.

Pitches/Strikes: Treece 91/52, Conrad 28/17, B. Trogdlon 90/55, Sweigart 36/17.