WELLINGTON — Sometimes a big hit doesn’t have to be well-struck.
Daryn Broadwater’s one-out infield single went about 20 feet, but it was enough to drive home JuJuan Howard and give Wellington a 5-4 win in eight innings over Oberlin in a sectional opener of the Division III Parma District.
Brock Waltz had a pair of hits, including a double, while starting pitcher Nick Carevic struck out 11 for the Dukes (8-12). But it took aggressive baserunning by Howard and a defensive lapse by the Phoenix to give Wellington the victory.
Oberlin came back to tie the game twice — with three runs in the top of the sixth and with a run in the seventh — but after Dukes pitcher Erik Fehlan held Oberlin scoreless in the eighth, Wellington went to work.
Marcus Bailey relieved starter Tyler Buga for the Phoenix and induced Jacob Grimmett to line out to center. He then walked Scott Palider, who was lifted for Howard as a pinch runner.
Kevin Scott walked after Howard advanced to second on a wild pitch. Howard moved to third on another wild pitch, setting the stage for Broadwater, who topped a fastball in front of the plate.
Howard broke for home on contact and Bailey jumped on the ball and flipped toward catcher Marvin Jackson. The umpire initially signaled out, but when the ball rolled away from Jackson he correctly overturned the call and the game was over.
“He was going on contact because we had runners at second and third,” Wellington coach Roger Sasack said. “Jordan was getting a pretty big lead over there. The catcher was down and over the plate and I was expecting him to come out to block it.
“He was where he should have been and the throw went into his body. When he reached out I didn’t even realize the ball had come out until everybody started pointing at it.”
Buga went seven innings and threw 105 pitches. He was around the plate all game, throwing 68 strikes. A sidewinder with an average fastball, he didn’t overpower anyone, but kept his team in the game.
“We had some ugly swings out there and it wasn’t until the third time through the lineup that the guys started to make some adjustments,” Sasack said. “I kept telling them to stay back, that he wasn’t going to throw it by them.
“He did a great job and you have to give him credit. The next kid they brought in was a little wild, and we took advantage of a couple of walks and that wild pitch.”
Broadwater dropped an easy flyball in the top of the eighth, and was happy he was able to make amends at the plate.
“It was like any other at-bat,” he said. “I was just trying to get a base hit and do whatever I could to help my team win. We’re always optimistic and support each other. We never let anyone get down on themselves.”
The Dukes advance to play at Keystone this afternoon at 4:30.
Liam McMillen had a big day at the plate for Oberlin, rapping two hits and scoring the tying run in the sixth. Oberlin could’ve had an even bigger rally, but Sasack pointed out Bailey had batted out of order. He had done so all game, but Sasack waited until it was most advantageous for Wellington to make the appeal.
After a lengthy discussion, Bailey, who had singled with one out, was called out for the second out of the inning. Jack Richard grounded out to third with a runner on second to end the threat.
“They were trying to tell me there was going to be nobody out because his turn at the plate was over, but I got the rulebook I carry with me,” Sasack said. “They got together and got the call right.”
Oberlin coach Lynn Gray took the blame for the mistake.
“I have a clipboard with a magic marker, I put my lineup on the one side and not the other side,” he said. “It had the lineup from another game on it, and I didn’t notice it when I gave it to my scorekeeper. It was my fault and that’s why we got that out. Completely my responsibility.”
Oberlin turned a triple play in the first inning when Dante Laricca made a diving grab of Fehlan’s line drive to left and threw to McMillen to get Sam Echstenkamper. McMillen then threw to first to force Robbie Bliss.
The Phoenix also was on the right side of a catcher’s interference call in the top of the eighth.
“Every time we play Wellington it turns into one of these kinds of games,” Gray said. “It was a good game and you have to give Roger’s team credit, they came through when they had to. I’m very proud of my boys and they have no reason to hang their heads.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.