Helm tosses 2-hitter as Knights win district championship
Saturday, May 24, 2014 12:13 AM
By Daniel Joseph
Crestview second baseman Brock Rolsten slugs a leadoff double to ignite a 3-run Crestview rally in the fifth inning of the D-IV district championship game versus Minster on Friday night. Crestview won the game and advanced to regionals with a 5-2 decision. (dhi MEDIA/Tina Eley)
dhi MEDIA Correspondent
COLDWATER — For the fifth straight year, the Crestview Knights and the Minster Wildcats met in the post season, this time it was for the Division IV district title held at Coldwater. The Knights came away with a 5-2 victory behind a strong pitching performance from NWC player of the year, Damian Helm.
“I didn’t have my best stuff tonight, but that’s part of the game,” said Helm following the win. “I just tried to do what I can do and keep throwing strikes and the great defense behind me took care of the rest. It’s great coming out and getting another win with my teammates and brothers out here.”
After a stifled scoring threat in the opening inning, the Knights struggled to get anything going in the second and third asMinster hurler Matthew Trushaw settled in.
The Knights finally broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fourth inning. Isaiah Simerman drew a 4-pitch walk with one away, then stole second base. With two away in the inning, Jordan Miller singled and Simerman came around to score for the Knights.
Minster recovered quickly as they took advantage of Helm’s uncharacteristic control problems in the bottom of the inning. After two walks and a sacrifice bunt, Trushaw laid down a suicide squeeze and JR Nixon came into score to tie the game at one. Clay Brown then put Minster ahead when he scored on Brad Walterbusch’s ground ball that was misplayed for an error.
It didn’t take long for the Knights to get that run back in the top of the fifth inning. Senior second baseman Brock Rolsten began the inning with a double and Cam Etzler was then hit by a pitch, bringing Helm to the plate. That spelled the end of the night for Trushaw, as he was replaced on the mound by Drew Riploh. The first batter he faced was Helm.
Helm took the third pitch of his at bat off the right field fence for his second double of the day, plating two runs for the Knights. First baseman Jordan Roop followed with a single up the middle, which scored Helm for a 4-2 Knight lead.
Helm was dominant for the remainder of the game as he only allowed one hit in the final three innings of work. He struck out eight Wildcats on the day while walking four and hitting one batter. Helm threw 127 pitches in his complete-game effort.
“Damian really didn’t get hit hard,” said Crestview head coach Jim Wharton. “Their runs were scored on two bunts and a suicide squeeze. I tip my hat to Coach Wiss (Minster’s head coach) on gambling in that situation. They had a couple of flare hits and Damian really pitched well.”
Crestview added one more run in the top of the seventh inning when Simerman grounded to the shortstop as Jacob Lippi, who pinch ran for Roop, came across the plate to score for the Knights.
“There’s no question that playing on a field three times in one week makes the kids comfortable,” said Wharton. “We practiced at Van Wert under the lights and did a little bit of work there and for our kids, and really any kids who don’t play many games under the lights, it’s tough but we were up for the challenge.”
The Wildcats finish the season with a 17-13 record and lose to Crestview for the second straight year in the tournament. Crestview moves to 19-6 on the 2014 campaign and will travel to Fairborn High School to face Fort Loramie next Thursday in the regional semi-final game.
“We are just going to keep doing what we do,” said Wharton when asked about their upcoming opponent. “We had a couple of eyes on the game over there and we’ll sit down with them and start compiling some stats. The approach with our kids is just to keep doing what we do and try not to change things.”