ST. MARYS — The Van Wert baseball team traveled to St. Marys on Friday to take on the WBL rival Roughriders. The Cougars let an early lead slip away as they fell 8-7.
Van Wert got off to a hot start by plating four runs in the opening frame. Jake Lautzenheiser and TJ Reynolds scored on an error to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead with a runner on third with no outs. Nathan Temple reached on an error and scored Hayden Maples, then he came around to score on another error to make it 4-0, Van Wert.
Braeden Dunlap put the Roughriders on the board with solo home run in the bottom of the first and cut the Cougar lead to three.
Miscues plagued both teams and in the top of the second inning, Jonathon Lee scored on a wild pitch by Dunlap and made it 5-1.
The Roughriders cut the lead to two with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning. Trey Fisher and Carter Ballweg crossed home plate to chip away at the Cougar advantage, and after two innings of play it was 5-3.
The Cougars added a run in the top of the third when James Acquaviva came around to score on a ground ball out by Jalen McCracken. Van Wert enjoyed a 3-run lead before St. Marys unleashed in the bottom of the inning.
The Roughriders scored three times in the bottom of the fourth. They produced three hits and racked up four stolen bases to tie the ball game at 6-6. Van Wert recaptured the lead in the top of the fifth on an RBI single by McCracken that scored Acquaviva. They had a chance to extend their lead with two runners in scoring position, but failed to convert as the game headed to bottom of the inning.
Van Wert watched the game slip through its fingers in the bottom of the sixth. Austin Wilker tied the game on a squeeze play that was perfectly executed by the Roughriders. Drew Jacobs scored on a single by Wyatt Bailey to make it 8-7.
The Cougars got a runner on in the seventh but couldn’t bring him around as St. Marys picked up its first win of the season.
Van Wert head coach Charlie Witten said mental errors were key. “It was a sloppy game all around on both sides. When you give teams extra chances it will come back and bite you, and that is what happened today. We gave them too many chances and they took advantage of it.”
Van Wert falls to 3-2 (1-2 WBL) while St Marys advances to 1-7 (1-3 WBL)