Deats and Kirian battle in high profile pitching matchup

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Calvert's Peyton Deats pitches during the game against New Riegel in Tiffin Thursday.

Peyton Deats went to the mound and mowed New Riegel’s hitters down.

Then he would go to the dugout and watch as the Blue Jackets’ Michael Kirian did the same thing to him and his Calvert teammates.

In one of the area’s most anticipated pitching matchups in recent memory, Kirian and Deats put on a show for fans, coaches, scouts and media Thursday.

It didn’t seem possible, but each pitched so well that they not only met the hype that surrounded the matchup, but they exceeded it.

When New Riegel’s Cole Noftz’s pitch went to the backstop in the 10th inning and Calvert’s Grant Vera slid home with the game’s only run, the Senecas celebrated a 1-0 win. It was almost 8:10 p.m., more than three hours after the game’s scheduled start.

Neither Kirian nor Deats were on the mound by the 10th. Neither factored in a decision.

And yet, Deats and Kirian – fierce competitors on the diamond and friends off it – were the story.

Kirian, who has committed to Louisville, was overpowering. The senior left-hander threw eight scoreless innings, allowing three hits and walking four. He pitched around trouble, striking out 17 Senecas.

“He pitched his tail off,” said Deats. “He battled. We both went out there and battled. It’s definitely one we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.”

Deats, a senior lefty headed to Kent State, managed to go nine innings, fanning 18 while allowing just two hits and two walks.

Each team threatened at times. Calvert had a runner at second base in the first inning, and had two on in the third and the fourth.

Each time, Kirian and the Blue Jackets got out of it.

“He got in a couple tough spots there, but he worked his way through it, which he always does,” said New Riegel coach Gregg Hughes.

The Blue Jackets’ best scoring chance came in the eighth. Deats walked Brian Hughes to start the inning, then Shane Halcomb laid down a bunt to the left side of the mound. Deats fielded it, but slipped on the soggy grass – the game was delayed nearly an hour by a pregame thunderstorm – and the ball went into right field, allowing the runners to go to second and third.

Soon after, Deats threw a pitch that got past catcher Jaron Gase, but Gase pounced on the ball and threw to Deats, who applied the tag to the runner from third, who had headed home.

“I said to Peyton when he came off, ‘Just how we draw it up,'” said Calvert coach Brian Rothrock. “‘Throw it off the backstop, let it bounce back to Jaron, (he can) throw it to you, tag the guy out. That’s the picture perfect play right there.”

Deats then struck out Ben Dryfuse and got Nick Reinhart to line to first.

“We had a couple chances there, early,” said New Riegel coach Gregg Hughes. “It’s that kind of game. There’s a lot of excitement, everybody wants to do good.”

Deats came back out for the ninth, and allowed a leadoff single to Noftz, but picked him off first. Then he struck out Alec Zoeller and Alex Theis to end the inning, and his day.

“Pitching’s all about just adapting to what’s thrown at you,” Deats said. “You’ve just got to keep shoving.”

Hughes said Deats was tremendous.

“He pitched really well; he kept us off balance,” Hughes said. “I thought his curveball was good, his fastball was good.”

Rothrock replaced Deats in the 10th, bringing in freshman Nolan Wuescher. Wuescher allowed a hit, but no runs. He picked up the win.

Noftz, who had taken over for Kirian and thrown a scoreless ninth, started the 10th by allowing a base hit to Vera.

Vera then stole second, and went to third when the throw went into the outfield.

At that point, Vera said he already was thinking about scoring if a pitch got away.

“I was reading dirt,” he said.

Noftz was able to retire Trent Cooper on a grounder to third, but with Connor Kennedy batting, Vera got his chance.

“The catcher (Dylan Smith) was doing a good job; he was keeping most of the (pitches) back here,” Vera said. “That one got through, and I was like, ‘You know, let’s go for it.'”

Vera – himself a verbal commit to Kent State, scored, and Calvert improved to 4-7, 3-0 in the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division.

“It was one of the best baseball games I’ve seen in high school baseball,” Rothrock said. “It had a definite tournament atmosphere, and it was truly a great game to be able to coach.”

New Riegel fell to 8-4, 1-2 in the SBC.

“I’m proud of my guys,” Hughes said. “I thought they played well.”