ST. MARYS – Versailles had its two best offensive games of the season on Saturday, scoring 15 runs in game one and 13 in game two, as the Tigers swept St. Marys in a doubleheader.
“We’ve been kind of struggling scoring runs all year,” Versailles baseball coach Ryan Schlater said. “Today kind of had some guys that kind of broke out, got out of slumps. I think it helps the confidence level a lot to have a weekend like this where we score close to 30 runs this weekend. Having guys that broke out a little bit … conference play starts up Tuesday this week. We needed that. We needed a good weekend like we did.”
It didn’t take long for Versailles’ offense to get going. Kyle Subler led off the first game with a walk, advanced to second on a single by Keaton McEldowney, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on an infield single by Noah Richard to put the Tigers up 1-0.
St. Marys answered in the bottom half of the frame. The Roughriders got back-to-back walks to start off the game then Logan Dircksen singled to score Drew Jacobs and tie the score at 1-1.
In the fourth inning Versailles regained the lead with three more runs. Isaac Ruhenkamp reached on an error to start the inning, Jacob Heitkamp singled and Zach Griesdorn walked to load the bases.
Subler hit into a fielder’s choice to drive in Ruhenkamp for the first run of the inning. Then an errant pickoff attempt and a wild pitch brought in two more runs, increasing the Tiger lead to 4-1.
In the fifth inning St. Marys went to the bullpen twice, and Versailles exploded for seven more runs.
With a new pitcher in the game, Richard and Cole Niekamp both reached on errors to start the inning. Ruhenkamp then singled to drive in Richard and put the Tigers up 5-1.
Following a walk to Heitkamp that loaded the bases, a balk brought in a run and made it 6-1. Griesdorn walked to load the bases again then Subler drove in two runs with a double, making it 8-1. Two more balks brought in two more runs, clearing the bases and increasing Versailles’ lead to 10-1.
After McEldowney walked, St. Marys brought in another relief pitcher. McEldowney stole second and then scored on a single by Austin Knapke, increasing the lead to 11-1.
Needing just three outs for a run-rule victory, Versailles ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth.
St. Marys’ Christian Triplett and Ethan Rose both reached base on errors to begin the inning. A sacrifice fly by Jacobs brought in a run to make it 11-2. Austin Cook and Dircksen then recorded singles – the first hits Versailles starting pitcher Elliot Bruns gave up since the first inning – to bring in another run and make it 11-3.
“If we got out of that inning with no runs it would have been game over,” Schlater said. “I think they got a little lackadaisical a little bit with their defensive play, but we tightened it up that second game.”
After a scoreless sixth inning Versailles got its offense going again in the seventh.
McEldowney started the rally with a single and stole second. He then scored on a two-out RBI single by Richard, making it 12-3. Niekamp then drew a walk and Ruhenkamp, Will Eversole and Heitkamp recorded three consecutive hits to bring in three more runs and make it 15-3.
St. Marys scored the game’s final three runs in the bottom half of the seventh.
Jacobs drew a leadoff walk, Derek Jay singled and Dircksen was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Garrett Lauth and Chandler Gray then hit back-to-back singles, which coupled with an error brought in three runs for the 15-6 final score.
Versailles had 14 hits and three errors in game one while St. Marys had seven hits and four errors.
Heitkamp was 3-for-3 with two walks, a stolen base, a RBI and two runs in game one. Richard went 3-for-5 with a stolen base, two RBI and two runs. McEldowney was 2-for-2 with a triple, was hit by a pitch, walked twice, stole a base and scored two runs. Subler was 2-for-5 with two doubles, a walk, two RBI and three runs.
Ruhenkamp was 2-for-5 with a stolen base, a RBI and three runs. Niekamp was 2-for-5 with a walk and two runs. Eversole was 1-for-1 with a RBI. Knapke was 1-for-5 with a RBI. Griesdorn walked twice and scored a run.
Elliot Bruns earned the win by pitching five innings and allowing one earned run and two unearned runs on three hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. Jacob Heitkamp pitched two innings in relief and allowed two earned runs and one unearned run on four hits, one walk and one hit batter.
“Elliott pitched a great game,” Schlater said. “He was getting up there in pitch count that first game so we had to get him out of there, but Jumbo, Jacob Heitkamp, came in and threw a great game to close it out there.”
After failing to secure the run-rule victory in game one, Versailles got the job done in game two with a 13-3 six-inning run rule.
Versailles’ offense got going right away with two runs in the first inning.
Subler and McEldowney started the game off with back-to-back singles. Knapke then drove in Subler with a RBI double and Richard brought in McEldowney with a RBI groundout.
Versailles added to its lead with four more runs in the third inning.
McEldowney led off the inning with a single and went to second on an error. He then scored on a single by Knapke, making it 3-0.
Richard singled to put runners on the corners then Niekamp reached on an error, bringing in a run and making it 4-0. Ruhenkamp and Heitkamp then got back-to-back singles, bringing in two more runs and increasing the lead to 6-0.
St. Marys got its first run of game two in the bottom half of the third. Evan Vogel reached base on an error then scored following singles by Jacobs and Mitchell Pendleton, making it 6-1.
In the top half of the fourth Versailles added another run with singles by McEldowney and Kurtis Rutschilling then a sac fly by Knapke.
St. Marys answered in the bottom half of the inning with a two-out single by Braeden Dunlap then a double by Vogel, making it 7-2.
In the fifth inning Versailles got singles from Niekamp, Heitkamp and Subler to bring in a run.
St. Marys answered again in the bottom half of the inning. Jacobs and Will Spencer singled to start the inning then Lauth brought in a run with a groundout, bringing the score to 8-3.
In the sixth inning Versailles caught fire again and scored five runs.
Rutschilling walked and Knapke was hit by a pitch to start the rally. After a fielder’s choice for the first out of the inning, Niekamp was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Ruhenkamp hit a sacrifice fly to bring in one run then Heitkamp singled to bring in two more, making it 11-3. Noah Grisez and Subler then hit back-to-back singles to bring in two more runs and increase the lead to 13-3.
Versailles finished off the game in the bottom of the sixth, securing a 13-3 run rule victory.
Versailles had 16 hits and one error in game two while St. Marys had seven hits and three errors.
Heitkamp went 3-for-4, stole a base, scored a run and drove in three runs in game two. Subler was 3-for-5 with a run and three RBI. McEldowney was 3-for-5 with three runs. Knapke was 2-for-2 with a double, was hit by a pitch, scored a run and drove in three runs.
Niekamp was 1-for-2, walked once, was hit by a pitch, stole a base, drove in a run and scored three runs. Richard was 1-for-4 with a stolen base, a RBI and two runs. Ruhenkamp was 1-for-3 and drove in two runs. Rutschilling was 1-for-4 with a walk and a run. Grisez was 1-for-4, stole a base and scored a run.
Knapke earned the win by pitching five innings, allowing two earned runs and one unearned run on seven hits, one walk and four strikeouts. Griesdorn pitched one scoreless inning in relief and struck out one.
“Austin Knapke, that was the first game that he’s started in a couple years for us, and he pitched a great game,” Schlater said. “Threw the ball around the zone, made his defense work for him.”
With Saturday’s wins Versailles improved to 7-1 on the year. The Tigers will play host to Celina on Monday before opening Midwest Athletic Conference play on Tuesday at home vs. New Bremen.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.