Cougars rough up Celina

VAN WERT — With the weather finally breaking on Thursday, Van Wert’s bat thawed out as well. The Cougars pounded out 11 hits en route to a 12-0, 5-inning win over Celina at Russell Fisher Field.

The Bulldogs committed 5 errors in the game, and Van Wert took advantage. The Cougars threatened in the opening inning, but a ground ball off the bat of Lawson Blackmore shoud have ended the inning. Instead, Celina third baseman Gabe Perry couldn’t field it cleanly, then fired a rushed throw too high for the first baseman. Those two errors made it 2-0. Two batters later, James Acquaviva smoked a ball into the deep right-center field gap for a 2-run double and a 4-0 lead after one inning.

“James has been huge, going back to even last year,” Van Wert head coach Charlie Witten said. “It seems like he’s always up in that situation, with two outs and runners in scoring position, and more times than not it seems like he gets that job done.”

The Cougars (3-1, 1-1 WBL) added four more runs in the home half of the second, chasing Celina starter Nash Weimart in the process. Weimart gt into trouble after one was out. Jake Lautzenheiser then dropped a soft line drive into left field for a single, and TJ Reynolds followed with a liner to right to put two aboard. After both runners stole bases, Cougar pitcher Hayden Maples brought them both in with a 2-run single to left and a 6-0 lead.

That was all for Weimart, but the Cougars hitters were far from finished. With Perry taking over on the hill, Nathan Temple smoked an RBI double before scoring on Blackmore’s chopper into center field for an 8-0 lead.

Perry started the third, but walked two hitters before moving back to third base in favor of Ethan Piper. The Cougars cashed in both of those runs, with even more help coming from Perry. He committed two more errors in the inning, leading to three unearned runs. Reynolds had an RBI single as a part of the parade Cougar baserunners in the inning.

“This was a 100 percent team effort today,” Witten said. “They all hit the ball, not only the nine starters but the guys you saw coming off the bench were up there ready to swing. It’s tough making out a lineup right now because we have som many guys who can contribute; it’s a good problem to have.”

The offense was backing Maples, who did a fine job of navigating some early command issues while dealing with the lingering effects of being hit in the wrist by a pitch just two days prior. He strated the bases loaded in the first, then worked out of another jam in the second before finding his groove. All told, Maples needed 88 pitches to complete the five innings on the hill, which he finished off by getting Perry to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.