MINSTER — Minster had chances in a Midwest Athletic Conference game against St. Henry on Thursday but twice left the bases loaded and ultimately lost in rule-rule fashion after the Redskins scored 11 runs in the top of the fifth.
Before facing Anna in a nonconference game on Friday, Minster coach Mike Wiss told the team not to waste any opportunities.
With runners in scoring position on Friday, Minster’s bats didn’t stop making contact. The Wildcats had 10 hits and used a six-run third inning to jumpstart a 10-2 win over Anna at Melcher Street Park.
“Our word for the day was ‘respond,’” Minster coach Mike Wiss said. “It was a question of how we respond the night after somebody did that to us on our home field in a league game. Number one, after having a talk before the game with sophomore lefty Austin Brown, he pitched a really good game. I’m very pleased with that effort.
“And then secondly, we got him a couple of runs early, which is good to settle a sophomore, and we didn’t waste opportunities.”
Brown pitched six innings and allowed two earned runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts.
Anna was able to make contact early, including a triple by Derek Coverstone to lead off the game and a second-inning double by Caleb Kauffman that bounded off the center-field fence after hitting the 380-foot sign. But Brown was able to prevent much damage when the Rockets got on base.
“I’ve had a lot of sophomores that have been three-year pitchers, and Austin is very capable of doing that,” Wiss said. “We’ve just got to make sure his mind is right all the time. I thought he matured a little bit tonight. He drove his shoulder through his fastball and had a curveball and a changeup working. Definitely a quality start by a young sophomore.”
Anna (5-2, 3-0 Shelby County Athletic League) scored in the first after Zach White laid down a sacrifice bunt between the mound and the first-base line to bring home Coverstone. The Rockets left two runners in scoring position in the second and didn’t get another hit until the fifth.
Minster (8-2, 1-2 MAC) tied the game with a run in the bottom of the first and took a 2-1 lead after the second.
The Wildcats, which are the defending Div. IV state champs, put the game away with a big outburst in the third. Jack Heitbrink had a three-run triple to right field that pushed Minster’s lead to 5-1. Austin Shinabery hit a sacrifice fly to score Heitbrink.
Four batters later, August Boehnlein hit a ground ball and reached on a throwing error with two outs, which allowed two more runs to score.
White took the loss on the mound for Anna. He allowed four earned runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings with three strikeouts.
“Whitey executed that perfect safety squeeze to get us going in the first, but as we came to the bottom of the inning, it became clear we just didn’t have our best stuff on the mound, and we were going to have to battle,” Anna coach Kristian Althauser said. “In the fourth inning, Whitey had to battle a little bit more, and we had to make a pitching change. Carter (Elliot) came on and didn’t have his best stuff on either, and we just kept having to battle. (Minster) just took advantage of that — they’re a good hitting team.”
The bats have been going for the ‘Cats all season. They haven’t had a game with less than seven hits.
“We hit the ball pretty darn well in that third inning,” Wiss said. “And defensively, we made all the plays we were supposed to make. Make all those plays, hit well, get a little bit of a lead early, makes for this kind of performance. I’m happy with it tonight.
“I asked them to respond, and we did that. When your ask your kids to do something, we’re blessed with the fact that our kids try to do what they’re asked to do.”
Minster added two runs in the fourth and left the bases loaded. Anna scored its second run in the fifth.
Heitbrink, the No. 5 hitter, was 2 for 3 for Minster with 5 RBIs. Jared Huelsman was 3 for 3 with two runs and one RBI and had a double. Alex Lehmkuhl was 2 for 2 with two runs and Isaac Schmiesing was 1 for 3 with one run.
“Getting five RBIs out of the five-hole means No. 2, 3 and 4 were on base a bunch,” Wiss said. “We sometimes forget how you get those RBIs. You’ve got to have people on base in front of you. But after last night with leaving bases loaded so much against St. Henry, we didn’t waste those opportunities early. We could have ended it in the fourth (with a run-rule), but it’s a good effort.”
White was 1 for 2 at the plate for Anna with 2 RBIs and drew a walk. Aidan Endsley was 1 for 3 with a walk.
Anna’s two losses have come to MAC teams in nonconference play. Althauser said the team’s younger players are still trying to catch up to the team’s returnees, but he’s pleased with what he’s seen so far this year. He said he’s happy with the consistency of seniors Endsley, Coverstone and Seth Stiefel and junior Carter Elliott.
“We’re still trying to find out who we are as a team,” Althauser said. “Going forward, what’s going to put us in the best situations? That’s where we’re learning. But those young guys are all going out there and doing everything that we ask them to do. They’re getting better and they’re learning, and I think as the season progresses they’re going to continue to learn and we’re going to get better.”
Though Thursday’s 13-3 loss to St. Henry and a 10-4 loss to Coldwater on April 5 have Minster back in the MAC standings, Wiss said he’s happy with where the team is at.
“This was a good way to end the third week of the season, and the fourth week of the season is going to be tougher,” Wiss said.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.