CLAYTON – Versailles’ ACME baseball team fell one win short of making the ACME state tournament as the Tigers lost 12-4 to Northmont in a district championship game on Wednesday.
Versailles, which out-hit Northmont 10 to eight, had plenty of opportunities in Wednesday’s game but stranded 11 runners in the seven-inning game. Five errors also hurt the Tigers and contributed to them playing from behind the entire night.
The Tigers got off to a good start in the top half of the first inning with Noah Grisez reaching base on an infield single and Kurtis Rutschilling drawing a walk, but both runners were left stranded.
Northmont, meanwhile, made the most of its opportunities.
Ed Hardaway drew a walk to start off the bottom half of the first inning then Adam Bendinelli reached base on an error. Northmont got its first run on a sacrifice fly by Logan Jewsikow then added a second with a single by Austin Weaver.
In the second inning Versailles again got a pair of base runners with Elliot Bruns reaching on an infield single and Adam Kremer reaching on an error, but once again both runners were left stranded.
Northmont, meanwhile, added multiple runs in the second inning despite again being held to a single hit.
Justin Combs singled to start the rally and Hardaway reached base on a Versailles error. Versailles’ second error of the inning allowed both Combs and Hardaway to score, making it 4-0. Jewsikow, who reached base on the two-out error, then stole third and scored on a wild pitch to increase the lead to 5-0.
In the third inning Versailles again left two runners stranded after Grisez walked and Rutschilling singled.
In the bottom half of the inning Northmont once again scored despite having just a single hit in the inning.
Jacob Richey was hit by a pitch, stole second and advanced to third when the attempt to throw him out went into the outfield. Richey then scored on a single by Combs, making it 6-0.
In the fourth inning Versailles finally capitalized on a scoring opportunity.
Nathan Wagner started the rally with a walk then Brayden Robinson reached on an error, putting two runners on with one out. After a strikeout for the second out of the inning, Andrew Demange singled to drive in Wagner and put the Tigers on the scoreboard.
Grisez followed that up by reaching on an infield single, which brought in Robinson and cut the deficit to 6-2. Rutschilling then singled, which coupled with a Northmont error allowed Demange to score and make it a 6-3 game.
Grisez and Rutschilling ended up being left stranded – the fourth consecutive inning Versailles stranded two runners – which prevented the Tigers from cutting into the deficit further.
After giving up six early runs, Versailles set down Northmont in order in both the fourth and fifth innings. But in the sixth inning Northmont got its offense going again.
Richey singled then Combs and Ragan Schommer drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Versailles got a force out at home for the first out of the inning, but Bendinelli then singled to drive in two runs and increase the advantage to 8-3.
Northmont went up 11-3 when Jewsikow drilled a three-run home run to left-center. Weaver then doubled and scored on a single, increasing the lead to 12-3.
In the seventh Versailles added one run. Rutschilling led off with a triple, Cole Niekamp reached on an infield single and Bruns recorded a RBI single to make it 12-4. However, the next three batters went down in order to end the game.
Versailles finished the night with 10 hits but stranded 11 runners. Northmont had eight hits and stranded four. Versailles also had five errors while Northmont had three.
Rutschilling led Versailles’ offense by going 3-for-3 with a triple and a walk. Grisez was 2-for-3 with a walk. Bruns and Demange both went 2-for-4. Cole Niekamp had a hit, Wagner drew a walk, and Matthew Niekamp was hit by a pitch.
Northmont now advances to play on Saturday in Lima in the ACME state tournament. Northmont lost its district tournament opener to Vandalia but then won five consecutive games against Brookville, Vandalia, Miami East and Versailles to win the district championship.
Versailles started out the tournament with wins against Brookville and Miami East but then lost to Northmont on Monday and Wednesday to be knocked out of the double-elimination tournament.
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.