COLDWATER — Minster has been on a tear for most of May and kept it going by tearing into rival New Bremen’s pitching early in a Division IV district final on Friday at Veterans Field.
The Wildcats racked up 11 hits and took control early in an 11-2 victory over the Cardinals in front of a capacity crowd of over 500 spectators. After New Bremen took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second, Minster scored four runs in the bottom half and added three in the third to run away.
“Scoring early and playing with the lead in tournament games is such a big deal,” Minster coach Mike Wiss said. “I thought we just swung the bats well again.”
Minster (20-7) advances to face Mechanicsburg (21-7) in a Div. IV regional semifinal next Thursday at Carleton Davidson Stadium in Springfield. The Indians beat Cincinnati Seven Hills 9-5 in a district final on Thursday to advance.
It’s the third consecutive district championship for Minster, which won the D-IV state title in 2017.
The Wildcats won their first six games this season but then lost four in a row and continued to stumble up until losing 4-1 to Parkway on May 2, which dropped their overall record to 10-7.
They’ve been on fire since. Not only have the won 10 consecutive games, but they’ve outscored opponents 99-11 in that time.
“I’m just really, really pleased with our kids,” Wiss said. “… We’re a lot different team than we were two weeks ago. I’m just really proud of how far they’ve come.
“… I think the positives in baseball are contagious just like the negatives. When you start to feel really good about yourself, you know someone is going to pick you up. I told them tonight that there really are no negatives playing in a district final. A mistake’s going to happen, but you just let it go. I think they believe it.”
New Bremen finishes 21-6 overall. The Cardinals, which lost 9-1 to Minster in a Midwest Athletic Conference game on April 18, will lose 10 seniors to graduation.
New Bremen and Minster each scored one run in the first inning thanks to a two-out hit.
Grant Selby reached on a fielding error by Minster shortstop Trent Roetgerman. After the next two batters hit into routine outs, Selby stole second with Ryan Bertke at the plate. Bertke then hit a single that landed in front of Minster right fielder Austin Brown, who dove to try and make the catch. Selby scored on the play.
Minster tied it 1-1 in the bottom of the inning. Jack Olberding hit a first-pitch double to left field and moved to third after the next two batters hit into routine outs. August Boehnlein hit a single that landed just fair along the left-field line to allow Olberding to score and tie it.
New Bremen took a 2-1 lead in the second when Tyler Overman stole home plate on a pickoff attempt to first base, but the Wildcats took control in the bottom half.
Roetgerman reached first base after an error by New Bremen left fielder Jarod Keller. After Adam Ketner struck out, Roetgerman scored on a double to left field by Jacob Niemeyer.
Mike Ketner walked on four pitches, and Olberding then hit a line-drive triple to right field that scored two runs and put Minster ahead 4-2. Olberding later scored on a throwing error on a failed double-play try to boost the lead to 5-2.
New Bremen had two runners on in the third with one out, but Minster turned a 4-6-3 double play to get out of the jam.
Minster added three runs on three hits on the third. Adam Ketner hit an RBI double to left field and Olberding hit an RBI single to center field in the inning.
The Wildcats added three runs on one hit and one error in the sixth. Brown hit an RBI double to right field in the inning.
Heitbrink, a left-hander, pitched a complete game and picked up the win.
“Early on, I think he struggled with some walks, but I thought we played pretty good defense behind him and he settled down,” Wiss said of Heitbrink.
New Bremen’s Justin Tenkman was charged with the loss after allowing four earned runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Olberding finished 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs.