Mustangs topple VikingsPublished 11:09pm Thursday, April 12, 2012
Two teams that expect to battle for the Big 16 Conference West Division baseball title found out a little bit about themselves Thursday afternoon.
Portage Central, ranked No. 2 in Division 1, defeated Niles 5-1 in the opening game of the doubleheader. The second game was stopped after six innings due to darkness. The game was tied at 1-1 and will be resumed at a later date.
For the Mustangs (1-0, 1-0 West) it was the first time in action this season.
Portage Central coach Paul Schneider said he knew his team would struggle to score runs in the opener, but expected his team to play good defense and get good pitching.
He got just that.
A trio of Mustangs combined to limit Niles to one run on six hits.
Starter Derek Schneider worked the first four and a third innings, allowing three hits and striking out six. He did not give up a run.
Logan Templeton worked an inning and two-thirds, giving up one run on thre hits with three strikeouts. Jared VanderBor pitched the seventh, striking out two.
Portage Central did not commit an error behind its pitchers.
“I learned that these bats are going to make a big difference, especially for us,” Schneider said. “We lost some hitting from last year. We are pretty young up there. Our three, four five are all juniors and our leadoff hitter is a sophomore, but he had a great day.
“The bottom line is I knew we would be able to pitch and play a little defense. I knew we would struggle to score some runs too. I think we got everything I expected. You have got to give credit to Niles, they pitched three pretty good arms right there. They are going to beat a lot of teams. I’m glad I’m the first one to play them because I think down the road they are just going to get better.”
Vikings coach Mike Vota was not happy about the loss, but he was pleased with the way his team competed against the highly touted Mustangs.
“That’s a quality ball team there with a lot of quality arms,” Vota said of Portage Central. “We competed. I like the way we played for the first time this year. Our first three games I haven’t been happy with the way we have gone about it. I feel like we are getting back on the right track now.”
The Mustangs scored a pair of runs on two hits in the fifth inning to break the scoreless deadlock.
Ty Laurencig reached first base after a dropped third strike and moved to second in a sacrifice by Nick Corbit. Ryan Mergener singled to drive in Laurencig and then moved to third on a single by Jaden Nozicka.
Mergener then scored when Will Jacobson reached on a fielder’s choice play.
The Mustangs made it 5-0 with three more runs in the top half of the sixth inning.
Greyson Granger, who reached base when he was hit by a pitch, came around to score from second when Niles again dropped a third strike.
Laurencig and Mergener delivered run-scoring singles to cap the Mustangs’ scoring.
Niles scored its lone run in the bottom of the sixth when Mitchell Dehn doubled and scored on a single by Taylor Weldy.
Niles got an outstanding pitching performance from Dehn, who worked the first four innings, allowing just one hit with six strikeouts. He did not allow a run.
Chris Mangus pitched the final three innings and suffered the loss. He allowed five runs on six hits. Only two of the runs were earned. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.
Portage Central 000 023 0 – 5 7 0
Niles 000 001 0 – 1 6 1
Derek Schneider (W), Logan Templeton (5th), Jared VanderBor (7th); Mitchell Dehn, Chris Mangus (L, 5th) and Tyler Parish
2B: Jaden Nozicka (PC), Dehn (N)
Portage Central 1-0, 1-0 West; Niles 1-3, 0-1 West