UNION CITY – The true test of a team’s heart is what they do when nothing is working as it is supposed to work.
You’re favored to win the game, but you’re not hitting, your pitching is struggling and your defense makes a couple of unexpected mistakes. That’s what faced the Mississinawa Valley baseball team on Monday afternoon in its Ohio High School Athletic Association sectional tournament first round game against Yellow Springs. The Blackhawks overcame all these difficulties and the wet weather to defeat the Bulldogs 5-3.
MV pitchers struggled with command issues for most of the afternoon. Matthew Slob started and threw 2 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball but walked five batters and allowed two runs though neither were earned. Ethan Dirksen got out of the third inning and pitched a scoreless fourth before allowing a run in the fifth frame.
The Blackhawks offense started quickly with a Devan Rinderle double followed immediately by a Zach Dirmeyer single to bring home a run. This would be half of the hits MV would get for the game and the only run that would score via a hit.
Mississinawa would draw nine walks for the game with two of them crossing the plate. The third inning was a good example of what kind of a day it was for the Blackhawks when they drew four walks and had a single but could only score one run.
The fourth inning saw MV plate two runs without benefit of a hit. Colyn Nelson led off with a walk and stole second. Rinderle was hit by a pitch. They pulled off a double steal and the ball was thrown into left field by the catcher, allowing Nelson to score and Rinderle to advance to third. When Dirmeyer popped up to deep second base, Rinderle dashed home with run number four. After five innings the Blackhawks led 4-3.
Dirksen continued his good work for Mississinawa by retiring Yellow Springs in order in the top of the sixth. The final Blackhawk run was setup by a lead-off walk and two costly Bulldog errors. Going into the seventh the score was 5-3, Mississinawa.
Yellow Springs would not go down quietly. The lead-off man walked and moved to second on an infield hit. Dirksen fought back to strikeout the clean-up batter, but the next man singled to left to load the bases. Blackhawks coach Max Guillozet summoned Trent Collins in to pitch to finish off the Bulldogs. Collins struck out the first batter he faced, then popped up the final batter of the game.
Though the MV pitching had its issues at times during the game, the Blackhawks received a glimpse into the future. Starter Matthew Slob is a sophomore, and Ethan Dirksen and Trent Collins are only freshmen.
“It was an ugly win,” Coach Guillozet said. “I’m just glad to get out of here with a win. We get to move on. You play a game like that and get the W. You’re trying to conserve and save your pitching. You have to win this one to get to the next one, but when you get to the next one you want to have plenty left.”
Zach Dirmeyer received the game ball for his 2-for-2 effort. He scored two runs, drove in two runs and stole three bases.
Mississinawa now moves on to round two where they will face Tri-Village Wednesday afternoon at New Madison.