CLAYTON – A combined no-hitter by two pitchers and an eight-run explosion in the fifth inning carried Versailles to a 12-4 victory over Brookville in the first round of the ACME tournament on Saturday at Northmont.
Versailles got off to a rough start with walks, hit batters, errors and other mental mistakes contributing to an early 4-2 deficit. But midway through the game the Tigers broke out, and they finished strong.
“We started off a little slow, but I think once we realized we could be a little more aggressive we definitely hit the ball a lot better,” Versailles coach Adam Lyons said. “But we’ve got to do that in the first inning, not start that in the fifth because that will get a little sketchy going against some better teams later on.”
Versailles collected three hits in the first inning, which led to a 2-0 lead for the Tigers.
Zach Schlater led off the game with a single and scored on a double by Noah Grisez to put Versailles up 1-0. After stealing third, Grisez scored on a sacrifice fly by Kurtis Rutschilling to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as Brookville scored two runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Garrett Toops walked the leadoff batter then hit two of the next three to load the bases with one out. An error then allowed the first two runners to score and knot the score at 2-2.
The score remaining tied until the third inning when Brookville took its first lead again without the benefit of a hit.
A leadoff walk but the first runner on base then a second batter reached base on a dropped third strike. After a sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position, a pair of errors on a single play allowed both runners to score and make it 4-2 in favor of Brookville.
Through three innings Versailles had committed three errors and allowed four unearned runs. But the Tigers settled down on defense and also got their offense going.
In the fifth inning the Tigers collected eight hits and took a 10-4 lead.
The rally began with back-to-back singles by Grisez and Rutschilling, bringing in a run and making it 4-3. The Tigers then tied the game on a RBI double by Toops and took a 5-4 lead on a Brookville error.
After a walk to Ethan Kramer, Adam Kramer singled to drive in a run and increase the lead to 6-4.
Schlater reached on Brookville’s second error of the inning, which allowed another run to score and make it 7-4.
After a single by Andrew Demange, Grisez singled to bring in another run and increase the advantage to 8-4. Rutschilling then knocked in two more runs to make it 10-4.
“I think it’s what we kept in reserve ever since the first game,” Lyons said of the eight-run inning. “We hit well our first game then it’s kind of been missing ever since. I tell the guys it’s going to come, but we’ve just got to keep taking good swings, and I think today we finally got a mix of a good pitcher who had good stuff and put them in there, and they finally were aggressive and hit the ball well.”
The Tigers’ bats stayed hot in the sixth inning as they scored two more runs.
Ethan Kramer singled and Cole Prenger reached on an error – Brookville’s sixth of the game – to put two runners on with no outs. Brookville retired the next two batters, but Versailles rallied with two outs as Demange doubled and Grisez reached on an infield single, bringing in two more runs and putting the Tigers up 12-4.
Brookville got its first base runner since the third inning in the bottom of the seventh via a walk, but Matthew Niekamp closed the door and secured the 12-4 win for Versailles.
“He’s been our ace about the whole summer,” Lyons said of Niekamp, who pitched four scoreless innings and gave up a single walk. “He knew his job, and he threw strikes, and he threw them well.”
Toops pitched three innings without surrendering a hit and gave up four unearned runs.
Versailles finished the game with 17 hits while Brookville had none. Versailles committed three errors, and Brookville had six.
Grisez led Versailles’ offensively by going 5-for-5 with a double. Toops was 3-for-4 and also was hit by a pitch. Ethan Kramer was 2-for-4 with a walk.
Rutschilling went 2-for-4. Demange was 2-for-5 with a double. Schlater was 1-for-4 and was hit by a pitch. Prenger went 1-for-4. Adam Kramer also was 1-for-4.
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.