BLUFFTON - Interestingly enough, Wapakoneta coach Jason Brandt said his starting pitcher, Johnny Crawford, didn't have his best stuff Thursday when he pitched in the Division II district semifinals against Columbian.
Crawford threw six scoreless innings in the Redskins' 10-0 win over Columbian, allowing two hits and striking out three. He walked five.
It would be an excellent start for almost anyone else. For Crawford (8-0), it's average.
The Redskins starter has thrown seven straight shutouts, and has not been scored upon in 44 innings.
"I don't think Johnny had his best stuff; he had to rely more on his fastball today," Brandt said after his team improved to 21-5. "His offspeed pitches weren't as crisp as they have been all year, but he continued to do the job."
Columbian had chances against Crawford, leaving two runners on base in three separate innings and stranding seven overall. And while the game's final score may indicate a blowout, it was anything but for the first five innings. Columbian trailed 4-0 going to the bottom of the sixth, when the Redskins tallied six runs to enact the run rule.
Wapakoneta 10, Columbian 0
Columbian (18-8): Jonah Boyer 3-0-1-0; Nick Loura 2-0-0-0; Tyler Fuhrer 2-0-1-0; Derec Blodgett 0-0-0-0; Carter Mullins 2-0-0-0; Garret Bean 0-0-0-0; Mike Rohrbach 3-0-0-0; Nate Hoyda 0-0-0-0; Logan Tracy 2-0-0-0; Daniel Wood 3-0-0-0; Bryce Lonsway 0-0-0-0; Vince Anway 1-0-0-0. Totals: 19-0-2-0.
Wapakoneta (21-5): Alex Koch 3-2-2-0; Josh Apple 3-1-1-1; Johnny Crawford 4-0-1-0; Brandon Miller 3-1-1-1; Chandler Kaeck 1-0-1-0; Dylan Knoch 2-1-0-0; A.J. Etzkorn 1-0-1-3; Brandon Schreiber 2-2-1-0; Marshall Gerlach 2-2-1-3; Andrew Hines 2-0-0-0; Dom Campos 3-1-3-1; Caleb Zwiebel 0-0-0-0. Totals: 26-10-12-9.
Columbian 000 000 - 0
Wapakoneta 030 016 - 10
WP - Crawford (8-0). Loura 2-1.
HR -Gerlach (W).
2B - Miller, Kaeck, Etzkorn (W).
"We had a lot of opportunities, it just felt like we couldn't find the gap, and everything they hit found the gap, that's baseball," said Columbian coach Curt Mellott, whose team bowed out of the tournament with an 18-8 mark. "It's tough. I thought we battled very hard."
Nick Loura started on the mound for the Tornadoes. He lasted 5 1/3 innings, striking out nine and walking three. The big blow came in the second inning, when Wapakoneta's Chandler Kaeck hit a ground rule double, Brandon Schreiber reached on a bunt, and then Marshall Gerlach came up.
The Redskins' third baseman fell behind in the count early 0-2, but then pulled a Loura pitch over the left field fence for a three-run shot.
Not only was it Gerlach's first homer of the year, it was only Wapakoneta's third.
"He tattooed it," Brandt said. "I think that was the only time too today that the wind wasn't blowing straight in ... there was no doubt when that ball left his bat."
Columbian's best chance to get back into the game may have been the next half inning, when Jonah Boyer hit a one out single and Loura walked, and with two out pulled off a double steal. But Crawford got Carter Mullins to bounce to third to end the threat.
TC's next chance was in the fifth, when Bryce Lonsway walked and Vince Anway was hit by a pitch to open the inning. But Crawford struck out Boyer and induced a double play off the bat of Loura.
The Redskins got a run in the fifth, and then in the sixth, Loura walked Brandon Schreiber to open the inning, then committed a throwing error when the next hitter, Gerlach, bunted back to him. That opened things up for the Redskins, who scored three times to make it 7-0. Then with two out in the inning, pinch hitter A.J. Etzkorn batted with the bases loaded and socked a double to clear the bases and end the game.
Loura was charged with eight runs before being relieved by Daniel Wood. Five of the runs Loura allowed were earned.
"I thought Nick pitched exceptionally well, all in all," Mellott said. "I thought Nick did a great job of competing against (the Redskins). He really kind of bailed us out a few times with his pitching, so I'm really proud of his effort today."