Van Wert’s Brant Henry scores on a wild pitch as Kenton’s Matt Bahr covers home plate during the Cougars’ 12-2 win on Tuesday evening at Smiley Park. Henry went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored for Van Wert. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
Van Wert’s Brant Henry scores on a wild pitch as Kenton’s Matt Bahr covers home plate during the Cougars’ 12-2 win on Tuesday evening at Smiley Park. Henry went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored for Van Wert. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
By John Parent
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
VAN WERT — For the second time in as many starts, southpaw Ryan Stoller didn’t allow an earned run. This time, his offense provided more than enough support, and Stoller and the Cougars defeated Kenton 12-2 in a five-inning run-rule affair.
Neither defensive team was sharp, with a total of nine errors being committed between the two schools. Van Wert was able to take advantage of those extra outs at the plate, but Stoller made sure that Kenton couldn’t do the same.
I thought he did a really good job on the hill,” Van Wert coach Charlie Witten said of Stoller’s effort. “We didn’t play great defense behind him and he did a really good job of picking up his fielders.”
After allowing a second-inning lead-off triple on a fly ball that was mis-judged by the right fielder, Stoller came back to strike out the next hitter. A hit batsman put runners on the corners for the Wildcats, who trailed 3-0 at this point, and Stoller got the next batter, Travis Downing, to pop up in foul ground. That ball was mis-handled for a foul ball and Downing had new life. With the next pitch, Downing hit a ground ball to the right side that should have been at least one out, but it became the second error of the inning and Kenton’s Matt Bahr came home.

Stoller would wind up stranding the bases loaded in the frame, however, by getting a pop-up and a strikeout to hold the lead at 3-1.
In the fourth, Stoller had to work around some more trouble. After allowing back-to-back singles to start the inning, the lefty got a groundball that could have been a double play. Instead, the bases wound up full on another Cougar error. Despite the no-out jam, Stoller retired the next three hitters, getting a strikeout, a pop-up and a strikeout to escape any damage.
“Man on third and less than two outs, (Stoller) was able to strike kids out and get pop-up to get out of some jams,” Witten noted.
Meanwhile, the Cougar offense was applying pressure and creating opportunities against three different Wildcat hurlers.
In the opening frame, facing Bahr, Van Wert used a single, a hit batter and a sacrifice bunt to create its first run of the game. After another hit batter and a walk had the bases loaded with two out, Bahr faced first baseman Gavin Gardner with a chance to escape any serious trouble, despite the wildness.
Gardner battled to a full count and, on the sixth pitch of the at bat, hit a sharp ground ball past the diving Kenton third baseman and into left field. Van Wert scored two runs on the play.
“Gavin’s been a pleasant surprise at the plate,” Witten said. “We knew he’d be solid defensively, but he’s been a pleasant surprise at the plate, putting the ball in play hard. He’s been a big part of our offense this year.”
The Cougars broke things open in the fourth, sending 10 men to the plate and scoring five runs on the back on just two base hits. The Cougars took advantage of two Kenton errors, two walks, a hit batter, two wild pitches and a passed ball.
“Anytime you can get extra outs, if you can take advantage of it, they hurt a little bit worse,” Witten said. “We did a good job of that today.”
Two more Wildcat miscues helped to close the scoring in the fifth. Nathan Stoller and Tyler Williams each reached in infield errors, with Brant Henry adding a single in-between. After Ryan Stoller’s infield hit loaded the bags with a run already home, Henry came home on a wild pitch and pinch-hitter Joe Lisa delivered another run with a base hit to right. Sean Miller then ended the game with a single through the left side, scoring Williams.
Van Wert moves to 5-6 on the season and 2-2 in the Western Buckeye League. Kenton falls to 1-7 overall and 0-3 in conference play.
Ryan Stoller went the distance for the Cougars, allowing two runs (zero earned) on five hits and two walks. He hit one batter and struck out 11. Bahr took the loss of Kenton. He was charged with eight runs (three earned) on five hits in just 3.1 innings of work.
Kenton 010 01 - 2 5 4
Van Wert 300 54- 12 11 5
Kenton (ab-r-h-rbi)
James rf 3-0-0-0, Jackson cf 3-0-0-0, Reichelderfer 1b-lf 3-0-1-0, Nichols lf-p 2-2-1-0, Bahr p-2b 3-0-0-0, Conover dh 2-0-2-0, Tra. Downing c 3-0-1-0, Hottman 2b-p 1-0-0-0, Tre. Downing ss 2-0-0-0
Van Wert (ab-r-h-rbi)
Tussing 2b 4-2-2-0, N. Stoller ss 3-3-1-0, Henry lf 3-2-2-1, Williams rf 2-2-0-1, R. Stoller p 2-3-1-1, Carr c 2-0-2-1, x- Lisa ph 1-0-1-1, Gardner 1b 3-0-1-2, x- Agler ph 0-0-0-0, Miller dh 3-0-1-1, Williamson 3b 2-0-0-0, x- Ja. Braun ph-3b 1-0-0-0