NEW KNOXVILLE — Versailles won its third game in a row on Saturday, defeating New Knoxville 7-1 in a Midwest Athletic Conference baseball game.
After losing three of four games the previous week, Versailles started to turn a corner this past week, beginning with a nine-inning win against Wapakoneta. The Tigers then beat Marion Local and New Knoxville for a pair of conference victories.
“We’re turning a corner,” Versailles baseball coach Ryan Schlater said. “The Wapak game, coming back in the ninth inning, I think the kids dug deep in that game, and I think that’s kind of turned the corner for the second half of the season.”
Schlater said his team started slow against New Knoxville, which was a big problem during its rough stretch, but the Tigers turned it on midway through the game to defeat the Rangers.
After a pair of scoreless innings, Versailles broke the tie in the top of the third.
Jace Barga began the rally with a leadoff walk. After the Versailles leadoff hitter stole second base, Austin Knapke singled to give the Tigers a pair of base runners with no outs.
After Knapke took second, Dan Borchers hit a two-RBI double to center to give Versailles a 2-0 lead.
Borchers then advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a RBI single by Mike Davidson to increase the lead to 3-0.
Jared Heitkamp then hit a single to center, which was misplayed in the outfield to allow Davidson to score for a 4-0 Tiger lead.
Versailles pitcher Brett McEldowney faced the minimum nine batters in the first three innings. He gave up a walk in the first inning and a single in the third, but Tiger catcher Nic Moorman erased both base runners by throwing them out on steal attempts. New Knoxville was 0-for-2 on steal attempts while Versailles was 8-for-8.
“That’s big if Nic can do that when they get a guy on first base and kind of just shut that running game down pretty quick,” Schlater said.
Versailles added to its lead in the fourth inning with walks to McEldowney and Knapke starting the scoring opportunity. After a passed ball allowed McEldowney to take third, he scored on a sacrifice grounder by Borchers to make it 5-0 Versailles.
“I think we did start out a little bit slow today,” Schlater said. “We had a couple breakthroughs the past two games with Wapak and Marion Local last night, got off to fast starts and kept that going. Today we got off to a slow start. We got it going later on but coasted from there.”
New Knoxville scored its lone run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Logan Leffel led off the inning with a walk, and then K.V. Mooney reached on an error to give the Rangers a pair of runners with no outs.
McEldowney picked off Mooney at first base for the first out, but then a sacrifice grounder by Adam Howe brought in a run, cutting Versailles’ lead to 5-1.
Versailles got that run back plus another in the top of the seventh.
Jake Wenning reached base on a fielder’s choice. After Wenning stole second, Moorman reached base on a two-out error, which allowed Wenning to score for a 6-1 Versailles lead. McEldowney then hit a single to center to score Moorman and give the Tigers a 7-1 lead, which was the final score.
“We have prom tonight so I think some of the minds are somewhere else, but they at least got the win, did their job, what they needed to do,” Schlater said.
Versailles out-hit New Knoxville 9-2 in the game. The Tigers made one error while the Rangers committed three.
McEldowney earned the win for the Tigers as he pitched the complete game, allowing one unearned run on two hits, four walks and seven strikeouts.
“Brett pitched a heck of a good ballgame,” Schlater said. “He came out on top. He started working fast, got through the batters.”
Offensively for Versailles Moorman was 3-for-4 with a run scored. Knapke was 2-for-2 with two walks, a stolen base and a run scored.
Borchers went 1-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored. McEldowney went 1-for-3 with a walk, two stolen bases, a RBI and a run scored.
Davidson was 1-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored. Heitkamp was 1-for-2 with two walks.
Versailles improved to 10-7 overall and 3-1 in the MAC with the win.