By Nick Johnson
Times Bulletin Correspondent
PAULDING - The Van Wert Cougars and Paulding Panthers battled to a 2-2 tie through seven innings on Monday night, but Van Wert rallied for six runs in the eighth to get the 8-2 victory.
Van Wert put Paulding's feet to the fire early as Justice Tussing, Nathan Stoller and Brant Henry all reached base to start the game. But Panthers pitcher Damon Egnor was able to punch out the next two Cougar batters and got a pop-up to the second baseman to end the frame.
The Panthers got a double from Kyle Kauser to start the bottom of the first. Kauser stole third base and came around to dent the plate on a passed ball to give Paulding a 1-0 lead.
Paulding got an exciting triple play in the top of the third as the Cougar had runners on first and third and grounded into a routine double play when the runner on third got a late break home. Paulding first baseman Gerod Harder fired to the plate to nail the runner and complete the triple play.

In the bottom of the third, Kauser walked with one out and later came around to score on a Quentin Vance RBI fielder’s choice to increase the Panthers lead to 2-0.
Van Wert got a run back in the fifth when Sean Miller walked and reached second on a passed ball. Tussing and Stoller singled with Stoller's hit knocking in Miller with the first Cougar run. 
With the score still 2-1, Van Wert came up to bat in the seventh with just three outs left to tie the game. The Cougars loaded the bases with one out and got the tying run to score on a passed ball.
Ryan Stoller was able to prevent the Panthers from scoring in the bottom of the inning, with help from Austin Carr who made a diving catch to end the frame.
The Cougars wasted little time to put up a big number in extra innings. Gavin Gardner and Josh Braun both picked up RBI in the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Van Wert was only up two and was looking for more. Henry doubled deep into the left field gap and cleared the bases and was even able to score on a Panthers fielding error, 8-2.
Ryan Stoller came out in the eighth to finish the game and retired the Panthers one-two-three to get the 8-2 victory.
Both teams got great starting pitching as both Ryan Stoller and Egnor went at least seventh innings and gave up only two runs.
“I told them we were lucky to get to the eighth inning today, but we gave them a run early with the passed ball. We didn’t score early with bases loaded, we didn’t score with first and third and no outs. They played good defense to start and give them credit, but we finally pushed some runs across. And Ryan Stoller pitched a good game and he wanted to finish so I sent him out there to finish in the eighth inning,” said Van Wert coach Charlie Witten.
“Damon threw well. He threw seven strong innings, but I had to get him out of there because I need him to catch seven innings on Thursday. So I brought Gerod in and they just made some plays in the eighth. Their left fielder made a game-saving catch in the seventh, but that’s baseball: you got to take it one play at a time,” said Paulding coach Mike Leech
The Cougars improve to 11-13 on the season and the Panthers drop to 9-11 on the year.
WP: Ryan Stoller (VW)
8 innings 2 runs 3 hits one walk one hit by pitch 9 strikeouts
LP: Gerod Harder (PP)
One inning 6 runs 5 hits one walk
Kyle Kauser (PP), Brant Henry (VW)