H-L unable to get big hit against Green Bears

Ottawa Hills’ Werner throws shutout, get 2-run single to help team advance to district final

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Hopewell-Loudon's Travis Milligan dives safely back into first base to avoid the tag by Ottawa Hills' Ben Werner during the district semifinal game in Clyde Wednesday.

CLYDE — Ottawa Hills’ Jack Werner had Wednesday’s Division IV district semifinal with Hopewell-Loudon covered.

On the mound, Werner threw a complete game six-hit shutout.

At the plate, the senior had the contest’s biggest hit.

With his team holding a 1-0 lead on the Chieftains in the bottom of the fifth inning, Werner lined a two-out, two-run single. The Green Bears went up 3-0, added another run in the sixth, and advanced to Friday’s finals with a 4-0 win.

“Jack Werner throws strikes, fields his position and holds runners,” said Ottawa Hills coach Chris Hardman. “Today, he was able to get, clearly the biggest hit.”

Hopewell-Loudon, by contrast, never got that big hit. The Chieftains had at least one baserunner in every inning but one, but Werner — with some help from his defense — kept H-L off the board.

Werner wasn’t overpowering; he struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. But he forced the Chieftains to line into to double plays, and also picked a runner off at first to end another potential rally.

“We didn’t get any breaks, but, I mean, you make your own breaks here and there,” Hopewell-Loudon coach Tony Swanagan said. “Sometimes it happens. It’s not lack of effort or lack of execution. It happens.”

Zach Kreais started for the Chieftains, and went all seven innings. He allowed a single run in the second inning when Jack Bassett drove in Tim Reiter with an RBI single. But he recovered and avoided any more trouble until the fifth.

Kreais allowed six hits, striking out six. But he walked the bases loaded in the fifth before giving up the big single to Werner.

Swanagan praised Kreais’ performance.

“That’s the great thing with him is, you know what you’re going to get,” the coach said. “We don’t expect him to walk kids, but he’s the biggest competitor on the team. If you’re going to be in a bind, you want him out there. He’s the one that’s going to battle for you.”

In the sixth, a sun-aided infield single by Michael McGee started things. He went to second on a balk, then scored on a single by leadoff hitter Ben Werner.

Ottawa Hills improved to 12-12. It will face St. Paul here Friday for the district title.

While H-L wasn’t able to do much offensively, it’s defense made some nice plays. The highlight came from left fielder Jaret Nelson. In the fourth, Jack Werner led off with a sharply-hit fly ball to left. Nelson went back, turned around, and snagged the ball with his back to the infield. The next hitter, Bassett, hit a fly ball hooking down the left field line that Nelson grabbed as he was breaking into a dive.