Jefferson’s Gaige Rassman bends out of the way of a pitch during the Wildcats’ 16-2 loss to Van Wert on Fraiday. Ryan Stoller started the game for the Cougars and earned the win. (DHI Media/Larry Heiing)
Jefferson’s Gaige Rassman bends out of the way of a pitch during the Wildcats’ 16-2 loss to Van Wert on Fraiday. Ryan Stoller started the game for the Cougars and earned the win. (DHI Media/Larry Heiing)
By Larry Heiing
DHI Mdia Correspondent
DELPHOS — Baseball may be considered a slow game by some sports enthusiasts, but the game can also change in a blink of an eye.
The Van Wert Cougar ACME team made the trip down Lincoln Highway to take on the Delphos Jefferson Wildcats on Friday. It was a pitcher’s duel for the first five innings, then Van Wert exploded for 14 unanswered runs in the the last two frames for the 16 to 2 victory.
Van Wert’s Gavin Gardner reached on an error to open the game and eventually came around to score the game’s first run when Brant Henry lofted a sacrifice fly to center field.
After the Wildcats went down in order in the bottom of the first, pitcher Ryan Bullinger retired the first two batters in the Cougars next at bat. Caleb Jenkins got aboard after his dribbler was booted for an error, but was gunned down attempting to steal on a great throw by catcher Gage Mercer for the final out.

Delphos Jefferson tied the score in the third inning after Jacob Boop walked and swiped second. Bullinger put runners on the corners with a single to short. Jefferson was aggressive on the base paths with Bullinger’s steal of the second base bag. On the play, Van Wert second baseman Jake Covey threw the ball home to nail Boop trying to score. Adam Rode then hit a solid double to drive in Bullinger to knot the game at one.
The great pitching performance by both hurlers continued until the fifth inning. Bullinger walked with one out and moved into scoring position on a bunt by Rode. Gaige Rassman struck out, but the third strike got away from the catcher and Rassman was safe at first. Bullinger came around to score on a throwing error and the Wildcats lead 2-1.
The lead didn’t last long for Jefferson. Nick Fitch, a rising senior, made his first appearance on the mound since his freshman year in the sixth inning. The Cougars didn’t make his comeback memorable as they scored three runs on four consecutive hits by Covey, Henry, Ryan Stoller, and Caleb Fetzer to take back the lead at 4-2. Branden Herron was called in to pitch with two on and no outs, but Ethan Williams greeted him rudely with a single to score another pair. Gavin Garder hit a triple to right to score two more and the Cougars roared out to a 8-2 lead after batting around in the inning.
The Wildcats went down quietly in the bottom of the sixth inning and Herron was replaced on the mound by Jacob Boop . The Cougars offense went right back to work as Henry, Stoller, Fetzer, Williams, and Jenkins, all reached on hits to open the final inning. Jacob Williamson walked, Bailey Neunschwander was hit by a pitch, and Covey walked to chase Boop. The Cougars sent 13 batters to the plate and scored 8 more runs in the inning to seal the 16-2 road win.
Score By Innings
Van Wert 100 006 8 - 16
Jefferson 101 000 0- 2
Van Wert (16)
Gavin Gardner 1f 3-3-2-3, Jake Covey 2b 4-1-1-1, Brant Henry cf 4-2-3-2, Ryan Stoller p 5-2-2-1, Caleb Fetzer 1b 5-2-3-3, Ethan Williams 5-1-2-3, Caleb Jenkins c 4-1-1-1, Jacob Williamson ss 2-1-0-0, Bailey Neuschwander rf 3-1-1-1, Evan Williams 0-1-0-0. Totals: 35-16-15-15
Delphos Jefferson (2)
Ryan Bullinger p 3-1-2-0, Adam Rode ss 2-0-1-1, Gaige Rassman cf 4-0-0-0, Gaige Mercer c 3-0-1-0, Jacob Pulford 1b 3-0-1-0, Nick Fitch lf 2-0-0-0, Damion Dudgeon 2b 2-0-1-0, Brett Mahlie rf 0-0-0-0, Easton Siefker dh 2-0-0-0, Jacob Boop 3b 1-1-0-0, Eli Eddy 1-0-0-0, Andrew Foust 1-0-0-0. Totals: 24-2-6-1
2B: Stoller, Rode 3B: Gardner, SF: Henry (2), Sac: Stoller, Rode CS: Jenkins (by Mercer) SB: Boop, Bullinger LOB: Van Wert 6, Jefferson 5
Van Wert
Ryan Stoller (WP) 7.0 6 2 2 5 7
Delphos Jefferson
Bullinger 5.0 4 1 1 0 1 Fitch (LP) 0.0 4 5 5 1 0 Herron 1.0 2 2 2 1 2 Boop 0.0 5 7 6 2 0 Dudgeon 1.0 0 1 0 1 0
BB: Gardner 2,Williams, Williamson, Covey,Boop,Fitch,Bullinger,Dudgeon,Rode HBP: Neuschwander(by Boop) WP: Stoller, Herron