By Jim Cox
Times Bulletin Correspondent
SHERWOOD - In a baseball rarity, a game with only one hit -- a harmless infield single -- Fairview edged Van Wert 1-0 Monday afternoon. Apache right-hander Cole Dockerty threw a no-hitter at the Cougars, while Van Wert lefty Ryan Stoller gave up only one hit to Fairview. The Apaches, who fielded no seniors in this game, are now 5-1. The Cougars are 3-5.
As might be expected, such a game would be decided by a couple of mistakes. In this case those mistakes were of the mental variety. In the bottom of the sixth, catcher Brett Dietrick led off with a walk. Stoller then plunked first baseman Kody King, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Shortstop Wyatt Puffinberger laid down a nice bunt to the third base side, which was fielded cleanly by Stoller. However, Stoller hesitated a critical second while considering trying for the force at third, then had no time to gun down Puffinberger at first. Thus, on the fielder's choice, the bases were loaded with, still, none out.
Third baseman Andy Robinson then played into Van Wert's hands by popping up an attempted suicide squeeze bunt for what could've been a tailor-made double play. Stoller caught the bunt on the fly, but when he turned to double Dietrich off at third, found nobody covering, leaving the bases loaded and one out. Second baseman Matthew Kozumplik then put down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt, scoring Dietrich with the game's only run. Stoller was able to throw Kozumplik out at first on the play, then strike out the next better to end the inning.
Despite the no-hitter, the Cougars managed to pose one serious threat. With one out in the top of the third, designated hitter Ethan Williams reached when his grounder was bobbled. Third baseman Ryan McCracken then drew a walk. Second baseman Justice Tussing bounced into a force out, shortstop to second baseman, putting runners on the corners. Tussing then stole second, but shortstop Nathan Stoller bounced one back to Dockerty to end the threat.
Although Dockerty only struck out two batters, the Cougars didn't make it very difficult for Fairview's defense. Nine of the outs, including all six batters in the first two innings, were fly balls to the outfield. Fairview's infielders only had three assists, while Dockerty had four. The only serious Van Wert hit threat came on a vicious liner off the bat of right fielder Tyler Williams in the fourth inning, but that one ended up in the glove of shortstop Puffinberger.
It was the second straight game of too many fly balls off of Cougar bats. "The frustration is that on Saturday, our second game, we hit 14 fly balls to the outfield, weather just like this, wind blowing in," said Van Wert coach Charlie Witten. "We've gotta figure a way to get our top hands through and hit more line drives and ground balls. They made a couple of errors on ground balls that we did hit. We're hitting the ball way too much up in the air to do any good. Those are easy plays to make."
During Stoller's six innings, he gave up the one run, earned, and one hit, striking out six, walking five, and hitting one batter. He threw 89 pitches, of which 51 were strikes. The lone Apache hit was a harmless third-inning infield single by centerfielder Joe Macsay.
"Other than the walks and the one hit by pitch -- that killed us -- he threw well today," said Witten of Stoller's fine effort. "We still need to get him to throw strikes more consistently."
Dockerty was a bit more efficient, throwing 75 pitches, 47 strikes, in seven innings, while walking only two and striking out only two.
Score by innings: R H E
Van Wert 000 000 0 - 0 0 0
Fairview 000 001 x - 1 1 2
Van Wert (ab-r-h-rbi)
Tussing 2b 3-0-0-0, Nathan Stoller ss 2-0-0-0, Ryan Stoller p 3-0-0-0, Tyler Williams rf 3-0-0-0, Carr cf 3-0-0-0, Miller c 3-0-0-0, Gardner 1b 2-0-0-0, Ethan Williams dh 2-0-0-0, McCracken 3b 1-0-0-0, Mills lf 0-0-0-0. Totals 22-0-0-0.
Wolfrum rf 3-0-0-0, Macsay cf 3-0-1-0, Dietrich c 1-1-0-0, King 1b 0-0-0-0, Puffinberger ss 2-0-0-0, Robinson 3b 3-0-0-0, Kozumplik 2b 1-0-0-1, Joe Jackson dh 3-0-0-0, Dockery p 0-0-0-0, Alex Jackson lf 2-0-0-0. Totals 18-1-1-1.
Extra base hits: None
LOB: Van Wert 3, Fairview 7.
WP: Dockerty. LP: Ryan Stoller.