GREENVILLE – The Greenville varsity baseball team moved to 3-0 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference with a 3-1 win over visiting Vandalia-Butler Monday.
“Cleanest game we played all year, and it had to be that way,” Greenville varsity coach Eric Blumenstock said. “We played about as well as we possibly could have tonight.”
It was a first for Greenville varsity coach Eric Blumenstock as a four-year player and three-year varsity coach, claiming a long overdue victory against the GWOC North baseball powerhouse Vandalia-Butler’s varsity baseball team.
“In my three years of coaching varsity personally and I go way back with those guys because I have never beat Vandalia even as a player,” Blumenstock said. “I went through four years of high school and never got a win against Vandalia. They have always been a good powerhouse team. Coach Dews has an excellent program over there, and this is a big win for us tonight to go 3-0 in the North.”
With the Green Wave’s senior Austin Baumgardner on the mound, it looked like déjà vu as Butler opened the game with a single to center.
A Baumgardner strikeout and back-to-back groundouts to Ryan Eldridge at shortstop had the Aviators’ runner stranded at first.
A line drive one-out single to left off the bat of Cole Ward and a steal of second was followed with consecutive groundouts, stranding Ward at second with the score 0-0 after one-inning.
A second inning walk and a bloop single to short center field gave Butler a 1-0 lead with Baumgardner throwing a strikeout for the final out of the inning.
“You hate those (bloop hits). Austin made a great pitch,” Blumenstock said. “They got a bloop hit and scored a run on it. Sometime you can throw too good a pitch. If the guy wasn’t so early on it, he just kind of of hits an easy fly ball to the outfield. You get those little divers, and they got a run on it, but we stayed and fought.”
Greenville’s lone second inning base runner came on a walk to senior catcher Bailey Haworth with the teams heading to inning No. 3 with the Wave trailing 1-0.
Baumgardner faced the minimum three batters in the top of the third while Greenville was getting its second hit of the game in the bottom of the inning, a Quinton Wood one-out infield single.
Wood took second on a wild pickoff attempt at first only to be stranded with a lineout to left and a popup to first.
The Wave faced a minimum three batters in the top of the fourth inning, which included a successful Baumgardner pickoff throw first baseman Kyle Bruner after an Aviator reached first by way of a hit batsman.
The Green Wave went three-up and three-down in the bottom of the fourth inning, trailing 1-0 with the Aviators Ace pitcher on the mound.
A high popup to R. Eldridge and Baumgardner throwing a “K” opened the fifth inning for Butler with two quick outs.
A walk put a runner on first for the visitors only to be picked off with a picture perfect rundown play between first and second that included Wave first baseman Bruner, shortstop R. Eldridge, second baseman Colton Nealeigh and Baumgardner coming off the mound and making a running tag for the third out in the top of the fifth.
Trailing 1-0 the Wave came to the plate in the bottom of the fifth with Dylan Shumaker taking a walk on a 3-2 pitch to open the inning.
A strikeout had Greenville looking at one out with a runner on first. Shumaker took second on a wild throw pickoff attempt, setting the stage for lefty Ethan Clark batting in the ninth slot to drill a double down the right field line, scoring Shumaker and tying the game at 1-1.
“Ethan (Clark) is my gets on base guy,” Blumenstock said. “He’s always on there. He has an on-base percentage up in the high 400s. That is why I have him hitting in the nine hole. Get that guy on in the nine hole, and you have your leadoff coming up. Get your two-three-four-guys up and really help you get some runs generated. Outstanding at-bat tonight. Ethan really came through for us.”
Wood hitting in the No. 1 slot in the Wave batting order laid down a bunt, being called out on a bang-bang play at first moving Clark to third with two outs.
Ward stepped to the plate, hitting a sky-high popup to the catcher with the speedy Ward crossing first base as the ball kicked off the Aviators catcher’s mitt, falling in play scoring Clark for a 2-0 Wave lead and Ward safe on first.
A walk to Nealeigh followed with a Butler wild throw to first on an attempted pickoff of Ward leading off first had Ward racing from first to third as the ball bounded down the right field line.
With two outs and Nealeigh leading off first, Nealeigh setup a rundown between first and second, allowing Greenville’s Cole Ward to score from third before the Aviators could put the third out tag on a dodging Nealeigh giving the Wave an insurance run to lead 3-1 after five complete in the book.
“It worked out great. Everybody did exactly what they needed to do,” Blumenstock said. “Nealeigh stayed in the rundown … Cole (Ward) broke for home as soon as he had the opportunity, and it just worked out perfect for us.”
Vandalia got a lone sixth inning base runner by way of a walk in the top of the sixth with the Wave getting putouts from a diving line drive catch from Wood in center, a Baumgardner strikeout and a ground out to R. Eldridge at short.
Greenville went down in order in its half of the sixth inning, bringing Vandalia-Butler to the plate for its final at bat.
A second outstanding catch in center field in as many innings from the Wave’s speeding junior center fielder Quinton Wood had Butler down to two outs.
With Wood roaming center for Greenville, Wood tracked down the second out of the inning and the Aviators down to their final out.
Nibbling at the corners, Baumgardner was just off the plate, walking the third batter of the inning with the tying run coming to the plate.
The Wave’s big right-hander wasted no time striking out the final batter of the game, giving the Greenville varsity baseball team a come-from-behind win as the rain was began to fall.
“Austin (Baumgardner) pitched an outstanding game,” Blumenstock said. “Every game he has thrown this year has been amazing.”
Both teams collected three hits in a pitchers’ duel with Vandalia committing three errors while the Wave limited is miscues to one.
Both teams will face-off Wednesday at Vandalia-Butler in GWOC North action.