VERSAILLES –Elliot Bruns hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th inning Wednesday night to lead the Versailles baseball team to a 4-3 Ohio High School Athletic Association sectional tournament win over Northwestern.
While Versailles came out on top the Tigers had to come back from an early deficit as Northwestern scored a pair of runs in the first inning.
In the top of the first Northwestern’s Noah Brown singled down the third base line, and Gabe Voorhees doubled into right field to put two runners in scoring position. Spencer Rinaldi put Northwestern up 1-0 with a sacrifice fly into left, and Christian Highfield drove a RBI single into left to make it 2-0.
Versailles reduced its deficit to 2-1 in the bottom half of the first inning. Kurtis Rutschilling singled and Austin Knapke walked to get the Tigers going then Noah Richard drove in Rutschilling with a RBI single into left.
After a scoreless second inning, Northwestern increased its advantage to 3-1 in the top of the third. Voorhees drew a two-out walk and scored on a RBI double by Rinaldi to put the Warriors up by two runs once again.
Versailles quickly responded, though, and tied the game up in the bottom half of the third inning.
Knapke walked and scored on a RBI triple by Richard. Moments later Isaac Ruhenkamp drove a RBI single past the second baseman, driving in Richard and knotting the score at 3-3.
Over the next eight innings Versailles and Northwestern were locked in a stalemate. Both teams had same nice hits and got runners on base but couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities.
In the bottom of the 12th Versailles finally broke the tie.
Richard walked to start the inning, Cole Niekamp singled into right field and Ruhenkamp walked to load the bases. Bruns then drove the game-winning hit into center field, driving in Richard for a 4-3 victory.
Niekamp pitched the first 11 innings for Versailles. Bruns, who had the game-winning hit, pitched a scoreless 12th inning to earn the win.
“Heck of a game,” Versailles baseball coach Ryan Schlater said. “I am very relieved. I can’t be happier for the guys, and Elliot came in stopped the big guys for Northwestern and then had a great hit in the end.
“We had to be patience to get the pitches we need for the hits we need. Elliot drilled the ball, which is just what we want. We did the same thing last night in Delphos. We had some rallies, and that’s what happened tonight. I hope other coaches look at us and say, ‘Hey, we can’t give up on Versailles when they have two outs; we have to go after them.’
“We got the win, and that’s what we needed. This game wrapped up our whole season. It’s a game that’s frustrating but the kids like to play.”
Versailles now advances to play Milton-Union at 5 p.m. May 17 at Eaton in a sectional championship game.