VERMILION — Sometimes all it takes for a game to get a little more interesting is a sack at home plate.
In a play that resulted in an ejection, Oak Harbor third baseman Ashton Schroeder collided with Vermilion catcher Sterling Benko, and it proved to be the turning point for the Sailors in their 12-2 victory in Sandusky Bay Conference play Wednesday.
After the physical play in the fourth inning, Vermilion (6-3, 2-1 SBC) kept its composure and let the bats do the talking, scoring 11 runs.
“Obviously you’re going to get kinda heated after that but you gotta let cooler heads prevail,” Benko said. “You’ve gotta do what’s best for the team and taking that energy and moving it forward to the bats. It really was a momentum booster, it kind of boosted our morale and we got after it.”
Before the fourth inning, both offenses were stagnant with one run combined. The Sailors capitalized on Oak Harbor (4-7, 1-3) mistakes in the first inning but failed to fully execute until later.
“We left some runners on base early on,” Vermilion coach Jeff Keck said. “We’ve gotta do a better job of playing small ball. We had two situations where we had first and second and no outs and we didn’t move the runners over. We’re fortunate that our kids keep battling.”
During a crucial moment at the beginning of the second inning, suspect baserunning erased two runners for Vermilion after Sam Herron led off with a double.
“In close games that’s going to come back and hurt us,” Keck said. “We have to do a better job of that.”
The Sailors’ Nos. 7 and 8 batters combined for six RBIs, coming through when it mattered most. Sam Herron had a monster game, as he went 4-for-4 with three doubles and five RBIs. Ethan Young added a hit, run and RBI.
Herron started the scoring turnstiles when he drove in two runs with a two-out double to push the score to 5-2.
“That’s a big game for Sam,” Keck said. “That’s huge. If you can get some good production all the way up and down the order, that’s obviously going to help us down the road.”
“My guys got on base and were able to help me out and I was able to find the gaps and get them in.” Herron said. “You don’t always need big hits, a lot of singles will score runs.”
While the bats came to life at the end of the game, the pitching put the Sailors in position to stay relaxed.
Jacob Krausher allowed two runs through four innings, then ran into trouble in the fifth and was pulled with two runners on. Enter Mason Montgomery.
He shut down the Rockets and gave the Sailors a chance to blow open the game.
“I came in, no outs. I just knew I had to throw strikes,” Montgomery said. “I was getting it past them and I was able to get out of the inning.”