VAN WERT — One starting pitcher struck out 10 batters on Wednesday night when Van Wert hosted Crestview at Russell Fisher Field at Smiley Park. His opposite number fanned only two. One threw 118 pitches, the other only 84. Both pitched into extra innings, and neither allowed a run.
Crestview managed to scratch out a pair of runs in the top of the ninth to break a scoreless tie and gain a 2-0 win.
Junior Kole Small started – and finished– the game on the hill for Crestview, using only 84 pitches in his 9-inning complete game shutout. Along the way, he allowed just six hits. He struck out two against two bases on balls.
“He was able to keep the ball down,” Crestview coach Jim Wharton said of Small. “He didn’t get flustered when they hit it hard. He knows he’s going to get hit some; he’s not going to be a huge strikeout guy. He’s got to change speeds, change locations, don’t throw the same pitch in the same spot. He’s bought into that, and he has really grown this year.”
For the first eight innings, Van Wert starter Owen Treece more than matched Small inning for inning. The freshman right hander ended his day with 10 strikeouts against only three Crestview hits. He walked three and hit a batter, but kept the Knights off the scoreboard.
“Owen is just a competitor, that’s all I can say about him,” Van Wert coach Charlie Witten said. “He competes and competes and competes; he doesn’t know anything different. He’s a three-sport athlete, and I think that helps his mentality. He’s just very composed on the mound and very confident in his ability, and it shows. For a freshman, he’s mature beyond his years.”
“This was tough for either pitcher to lose,” Wharton said. “Owen threw well, and Kole Small… you don’t see that kind of outing in high school ball.”
In the top of the ninth, with Van Wert’s Jake Lautzenheiser on in relief, Crestview senior Derek Stout worked a walk to open the inning. On a 1-0 pitch, Small then hit a chopper wide of first that Cougar freshman TJ Reynolds made a fine play on to get to the ball, but his throw to Lautzenheiser, running to cover first base, was too high, allowing Small to reach safely and Stout to wind up at third. The next batter, senior Charles Stefanek, lined an 0-2 fastball past the drawn-in infield and into center for the game’s first run.
“They didn’t get the ball out of the infield, but had first and third and nobody out; that was the difference in the game,” Witten said. “[Reynolds] was just at a terrible angle to try to twist his body to throw it back to first base.”
Two batters later, Brett Schumm lifted a fly ball deep enough to bring pinch-runner Jace Vining home from third for a valuable insurance run.
In the home half, Small retired the Cougars in order, including just his second strikeout of the game, to capture the win.
Van Wert had chances to score throughout the game, but the Cougars’ best chance may have come in the sixth when Hayden Maples reached on an error, and Lawson Blackmore worked a 1-out walk. After a Blackmore stolen base, they were at second and third with two away, and Jalen McCracken put a charge into a deep fly ball to left field. Riley Saylor broke backward immediately and made a sparkling over-the-shoulder catch to save two runs and, possibly, the game.
“We had some good defensive plays; Riley made that one out in left field that was a game-changer,” Wharton said.
Van Wert is slated to visit Elida on Friday for a Western Buckeye League matchup. Crestview continues it’s Van Wert County rivalry week with a Northwest Conference game against Lincolnview in Convoy on Thursday.
Brant Richardson cf 5-0-1-0, Brett Schumm c 3-0-0-1, Caden Hurless ss 4-0-0-0, Griffin Painter 2b 3-0-0-0, Dylan Hicks 3b 3-0-1-0, Riley Saylor lf 4-0-1-0, Derek Stout 1b 3-1-0-0, Kole Small p 4-0-0-0 x-Jace Vining pr 0-1-0-0, Charles Stefanek rf 4-0-1-1; Totals 33-2-4-2
VAN WERT 0
Jake Lautzenheiser 2b/p 5-0-0-0, TJ Reynolds ss/2b 4-0-1-0, Hayden Maples c 4-0-1-0, Nathan Temple 1b 3-0-1-0, Lawson Blackmore dh (Owen Treece p x-Jaxson Amweg ss) 2-0-1-0, James Acquaviva lf 4-0-0-0, Jalen McCracken cf 4-0-0-0, Parker Conrad 3b 3-0-1-0, Keaton Brown rf 3-0-1-0; Totals 32-0-6-0
E: Hurless 2, Hicks, Reynolds 2, Lautzenheiser 2; HBP: Hicks (by Treece); SB: Painter, Stefanke, Blackmore; SF: Schumm; SAC: Temple, Blackmore, Brown; LOB: Cvw 10, VW 10; Time: 2:19
Crestview 000 000 002 - 2 4 3
Van Wert 000 000 000 - 0 6 4
Kole Small (W) 9.0-6-0-0-2-2
Owen Treece 8.0-3-0-0-3-10
Jake Lautzenheiser (L) 1.0-1-2-1-1-0
WP: Small, Treece; Pitches-strikes: Small 84-54, Treece 118-76, Lautzenheiser 21-12