Crestview shortstop Bryce Richardson lines a single into left-center during the seventh inning of the Knights’ 6-3 win over Van Wert on Wednesday. Richardson scored the go-ahead run later in the inning. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
Crestview shortstop Bryce Richardson lines a single into left-center during the seventh inning of the Knights’ 6-3 win over Van Wert on Wednesday. Richardson scored the go-ahead run later in the inning. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
By John Parent
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
VAN WERT — On a Crestview baseball team loaded with seniors, it was a sophomore who came up with the biggest hit in a 6-3 Knights win at Van Wert on Wednesday evening.
After the two county rivals battled to a 3-3 draw through six innings, Crestview senior Bryce Ricardson lined a single to center field to open the top half of the seventh against Cougar southpaw Ryan Stoller. After Damian Helm sacrificed Richardson to second, first baseman Jordan Roop tapped a slow roller to first for the second out, advancing the runner to third.
Stoller opted tp pitch carefully to Nate Owens with the go-ahead run only 90 feet away, but fell behind 3-0 before Owens was intentionally walked to leave the game up to Jordan Miller. Miller, who has been seeing time at third base thanks to an injury to Isaiah Simerman, put a charge into a Stoller fastball, and the ball sailed over the head of Josh Braun in center field, plating both Richardson and Jake Lippi, who was pinch-running for Owens.
Left fielder Mitchell Rickard then drove home Miller with a base hit back through the middle to create the three-run cushion for the Knights.
“That’s a huge hit for a sophomore,” Crestview coach Jim Wharton said of Miller’s clutch double. “(Van Wert coach Charlie Witten) made the right call: I wouldn’t throw to Owens, either, in that situation. Not saying that Jordy can’t swing the bat, he showed that he can, but Charlie made the right call. We were just fortunate to get a couple runs here late.”

Crestview (9-3) got on the board first when Cam Etzler singled to open the game and promptly stole second base before advancing to third on a wild pitch. Richardson’s fly ball to center was deep enough to bring the senior center fielder home with the game’s first run against Cougar starter Kevin Agler.
Agler would settle in from there, limiting the Knights to a total of three runs in his four innings of work. Two of the runs were unearned. He allowed four hits and three walks while striking out one.
“He was making just his second start of the year,” Witten said of Agler’s effort on the mound. “We had three or four guys to choose from (to get the start), and we said ‘Ags, you’re the senior, we trust your stuff, and you’re going to go keep us in the game’ and he did exactly what we wanted him to do. We just couldn’t finish it.”
The Cougars wasted little time in striking back at Crestview’s early advantage. A one-out hit batsman proved to be costly for Helm, who got the start for the Knights on the hill. Van Wert right fielder Tyler Williams caught up with a Helm fastball and drove it to deep right field. The ball cleared the head of Adrian Camp and Nate Stoller cruised home witgh the tying run on Williams’ triple.
On the first pitch to Ryan Stoller, Helm’s offering got past Owens and Williams beat the throw to the plate, giving the Cougars a 2-1 lead.
“Tyler has been hot the last week or so,” Witten explained. “In the doubleheader on Saturday, he was 6-for-6 and he’s just kept hitting. That’s what we expect seniors to do, and he’s working on a real good season right now.”
The score would remain at 2-1 until the top of the fourth, when Van Wert’s defense opened the door for the Knights.
After Agler retired the first two batters of the frame, a routine groundball to short became a two-base error, putting Brock Rolsten in scoring position. Etzler then delivered a clutch RBI single to left and then scored when Richardson split the left-center field gap with a double.
Van Wert (7-8) was quick to respond in the home half. With one out, Braun lined a single that dropped in front of Etzler in center.
Braun moved to second on a ground out, and Nate Stoller attoned for his earlier error with a game-tying base hit to left-center, plating Braun.
Helm wound up going six innings in what was his longest start of the season to date. He gave up two runs on three hits in the first inning, but allowed just one run on six hits through the next five.
“Van Wert faced Taren (Sullivan of Bath on Tuesday night), and he throws harder than Damian, so I knew that they would be timed up and ready to hit tonight. Damo wasn’t as sharp as we’d like, and we just gotta get him more innings,” Wharton said of Helm’s rough first inning. “I thought he hung in there, getting nicked there early. He was pretty resilient.”
Etzler worked the final inning for the Knights, allowing one hit and fanning one, to pick up the save. He also contributed at the plate and on the basepaths, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. He also stole two bases.
It appeared that the Knights would take the lead in the sixth inning, when Etzler hit what looked like a routine sacrifice fly to center field. Justin Overmeyer tagged from third and came across the plate sliding as the throw was cut off on the infield. During his slide, Overmeyer made contact with the catcher and was ruled out by the home plate umpire, who asserted unnecessary contact had been initiated by the runner.
Crestview 100 200 3- 6 7 2
Van Wert 200 100 0- 3 10 3
Crestview (ab-r-h-rbi)
Etzler cf 3-2-2-1, Richardson ss 3-1-2-2, Helm p-1b 2-0-0-0, Roop 1b-rf 4-0-0-0, Owens c 2-0-0-0, x- Lippi pr 0-1-0-0, Miller 3b 4-1-1-2, Rickard lf 4-0-2-1, Camp rf 1-0-0-0, x- Overmeyer ph-rf 1-0-0-0, x- Clifton cf 0-0-0-0, Rolsten 2b 4-1-0-0
Van Wert (ab-r-h-rbi)
Tussing 2b 4-0-2-0, N. Stoller ss 3-1-1-1, Williams rf 4-1-2-1, R. Stoller cf-p 4-0-2-0, Carr c 4-0-1-0, Gardner 1b 3-0-1-0, Agler p 2-0-0-0, x- Henry lf 1-0-0-0, Lisa dh 2-0-0-0, x- Miller ph 1-0-0-0, Jo. Braun lf-cf 3-1-1-0
2B- Carr (VW), Miller (CV)
3B- Williams (VW)
SB- Etzler 2 (CV), N. Stoller (VW)
HBP- Gardner (by Helm), N. Stoller (by Helm)
WP- Helm 6.0 IP 9 H 3 R 3 ER 0 BB 6 K
LP- R. Stoller 3.0 IP 4 H 3 R 3 ER 3 BB 4 K
SV- Etzler 1.0 IP 1 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 1 K