PLYMOUTH — The Warriors have been in some close games over their recent, four-game skid. On Wednesday, one finally went their way.
Wawasee plated three runs in the top of the 10th, then held on for an 8-5 win over host Plymouth at Bill Nixon Field.
“Yeah, it was a big win for us. We kind of needed to get off a slide there,” said Wawasee head coach Brent Doty. “We’ve played in close games all year. We’ve been right in close games; we just haven’t finished them, and tonight we were fortunate enough to finish it.”
The Warriors and Pilgrims were still knotted at 5-5 at the end of seven back-and-forth innings. Neither could manage to scratch out another score over two more stalemate innings before Wawasee punished a lead-off walk and an error with three runs in the 10th.
Parker Young coaxed a walk from Plymouth reliever Jacob Deacon, Levi Brown showed bunt, then ended up reaching on a swinging bunt when Pilgrims catcher Kam VanLue overthrew to first. Each advanced a base on a wild pitch to Grant Brooks, and Brooks promptly drove both home with a sharp grounder through the gap at second. That was all the runs the Warriors would need, but Carter Woody singled Brooks over to second, he then took third on a passed ball, and he scored on the second wild pitch of the inning by Deacon.
“Just executing, putting the ball in play consistently — we were trying to bunt early there, and then I went to something else. He at least gets it in play and makes something happen,” recalled Doty of the 10th. “It worked out like a swinging bunt anyways and then Brooksie comes up with a big hit again. He had a walk-off one earlier in the year and now he gets a big one. that’s a lot to say for a freshman, but top to bottom, guys just doing their jobs when their situation calls for them to, that’s how you win baseball games in the NLC. It’s a tough conference, and you’ve got to do that day-in and day-out.”
While Deacon took the loss surrendering two earned runs off three hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings of work relieving starter Ezra Winkle in the sixth, Jacob Krugman claimed the win for Wawasee.
Kam Salazar gave the Warriors seven innings, surrendering nine hits and two walks for four earned runs before Krugman, who has gotten increasingly comfortable in the closer role for Wawasee, took over in the eighth. Krugman didn’t allow a single hit or walk, and he fanned three over three shutout innings in his first decision of the year.
“He’s been so solid for us out of the bullpen. He just comes in and pumps strikes,” said Doty of Krugman. “He’s not going to wow the crowd. He’s not going to come out and throw real hard, but he’s so consistent just getting outs, keeping guys off balance. Can’t say enough about him. He just battled all night. First decision. I think he had maybe a hold or a save earlier on but that’s just what you expect out of your seniors. He’s a senior, he’s been around a long time, and he’s competed day-in and day-out.”
The Warriors collected nine hits to the Pilgrims’ nine Wednesday, something the team has struggled to do over close losses the past week. Brooks finished with two RBIs and Woody collected two hits, but Wawasee’s most prolific hitter in Plymouth was Logan Adkins.
Adkins went 3-for-5 with hits in each of his first three at-bats and two RBIs batting out of the nine-hole Wednesday.
“A lot of guys have been struggling at the plate. We just have to find that rhythm, and Logan did a phenomenal job,” Doty said. “He’s playing right field tonight; he’s never played right field in his life, probably. We’re just trying to get offense in there, and he came up in a huge way tonight. Can’t say enough. He’s just going to continue to work, he’s going to continue to get better, and if we’re getting that production each night, it’s going to be tough to beat us.”
Jesus Luva and Matt Dobuck each had multiple hits for Plymouth, including Dobuck’s solo home run in the third. Plymouth slips to 8-3 and 1-1 in the NLC.
Wawasee improves to 6-5 and 2-3 in conference play. The Warriors play another Northern Lakes road contest Friday at Goshen. Game time is scheduled for 5 p.m.
“I told them tonight it starts with a great practice tomorrow. You’ve got to keep the momentum, have a good practice because it’s another good team,” said Doty. “They’re playing well. We’ve just got to come out and compete, and hopefully we’re on the winning side of it.”
Also Wednesday, Wawasee’s JV earned a lopsided, 11-1 win in Plymouth. Gavin Wilson gave up one run off two hits with 12 strikeouts in seven innings for the win on the hill and he helped his own cause going 2-for-4 at the plate with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. Charlie Doss also finished 2-for-4 with an RBI a run and a stolen base.