Van Wert second baseman Justice Tussing rifles a double down the left field line to lead off the bottom of the fifth during the Cougars’ 11-1 win over Lincolnview on Wednesday evening. Tussing collected three doubles and scored three runs for the Cougars, who improved to 2-0 on the season. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
Van Wert second baseman Justice Tussing rifles a double down the left field line to lead off the bottom of the fifth during the Cougars’ 11-1 win over Lincolnview on Wednesday evening. Tussing collected three doubles and scored three runs for the Cougars, who improved to 2-0 on the season. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
By John Parent
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
sports@timesbulletin.com
VAN WERT — Van Wert junior Brant Henry was a little wild in the first inning against Lincolnview on Wednesday evening. He walked the first batter he faced, Lancer shortstop Austin Leeth. Then, after a sacrifice bunt and a groundout moved Leeth to third, Henry uncorked a pitch that went to the backstop, allowing Leeth to come home with the game’s first run.
Henry would settle in from that point forward, however, and not only did he keep the Lancers off the scoreboard after the first inning, he kept them from getting a base hit at any point during the Cougars’ 11-1 run-rule victory at Smiley Park. The game ended with two outs in the bottom of the fifth.
“I threw three bullpens before the game, and got really loose,” Henry said. “Just tried to focus in during the game, find a focus point and work on it during the game.”
Henry threw 48 of his 81 pitches for strikes and issued five walks against six strikeouts. Lincolnview’s hitters only really threatened to break into the hit column once, and that came on what would be the final Lancer out of the game. With two on and two outs in the top of the fifth, in a 10-1 game at that point, the left hander Henry got Dalton Schmersal to lift a fly ball to shallow left-center. Center fielder Ryan Stoller came racing and was able to get to the ball before it could find the grass.


After Henry issued his second walk of the fifth, Van Wert coach Charlie Witten made a brief visit to the mound. Henry retired the next two hitters to snuff out the rally.
“It was just a matter of refocusing,” Witten explained. “He walked two that inning, so it was just refocusing where he was at, and he responded.”
In the bottom of the frame, the Cougars walked-off with the 10-run victory when catcher Mason Carr delivered a bases-loaded single to left, scoring Justice Tussing from third.
For Lincolnview head coach Kevin Longstreth, an 0-2 start has come with a total of two runs scored.
“The thing is, we’ve scored one run in the first inning (of each game), which is huge to put the pressure on to start with,” Longstreth noted. “We didn’t really have good at bats tonight. We just gotta keep improving. Once one (hitter) gets going, maybe we can get a couple more going and get things rolling for us.”
Van Wert’s offense scored seven runs in a season-opening win at Spencerville on Monday. They came back with 11 runs on 12 hits on Wednesday, including five that went for extra bases.
“We hit the ball a lot better today than we did on Monday at Spencerville,” Witten noted. “We’ve got a good approach at the plate. We’re not trying to jerk the ball, we’re keeping our heads in, keeping our front-sides in, so that’s a credit to the kids for doing that.”
The Cougars put four runs on the board in the second, a rally that was started by a leadoff walk to Ryan Stoller. When Mason Carr grounded a slow roller to shortstop, a hustling Stoller beat the throw to second base and the Cougars had two on with nobody out. Three different Cougars came up with RBI hits in that inning with Nathan Stoller’s solid single to right knocking in a pair.
Van Wert would add five more in the third, with five different hitters driving in one run each.
Leadoff man Justice Tussing went 3-for-4 at the dish on Wednesday with three doubles and three runs scored. Designated hitter Sean Miller, who knocked in two on Monday, was 3-for-3 versus the Lancers and drove in three more runs.
“We’ve encouraged all of the kids to have a focus point,” Witten continued. “We talked with each one of them individually and asked ‘what is that for you?’ He (Miller) is really one that has bought into it. He’s off to a good start.”
Lincolnview’s Derek Youtsey was tagged with the loss. After collecting two strikeouts in a scoreless first, the Cougars touched him for nine earned runs in his 2.2 innings of work.
“He threw well early,” Longstreth added. “But they got to him a little bit, and they hit the ball well; it wasn’t like he was walking guys. A couple close plays, a couple errors, those always add to a rally, and that’s kind of what got us.”
In two games for the Cougars this season, the starting pitchers have combined to throw two complete games, allowing a total of four hits and one run over 12 innings of work. They have fanned 17 hitters.
“We’ve had good solid pitching,” Henry conceded. “We all have been working hard (in the offseason), and hopefully it’s paying off.”
The Lancers visit Fort Jennings on Thursday evening while Van Wert is next in action on Saturday afternoon as they hit the road to face Bryan.
Score 123 45- R H E
Lincolnview 100 00- 1 0 2
Van Wert 045 11- 11 12 0
Lancers (AB R H BI)
Leeth ss-p 2 1 0 0, D. Schmersal 3b-ss 2 0 0 0, McCleery 1b 2 0 0 0, Friesner rf 1 0 0 0, x- W. Schmersal rf 0 0 0 0, Youtsey p-3b 2 0 0 0, Richey c 2 0 0 0, Roberts lf 2 0 0 0, x- C. Schmersal lf 0 0 0 0, Patterson 2b 2 0 0 0, Farmer cf 1 0 0 0
Cougars (AB R H BI)
Tussing 2b 4 3 3 2, N. Stoller ss 4 0 2 3, Henry p 3 0 0 0, T. Williams rf 3 0 0 0, x- Mills rf 1 0 0 0, R. Stoller cf 0 2 0 0, x- Lisa ph 1 0 0 0, Carr c 3 3 2 0, Agler 1b 2 0 1 1, x- Gardner pr-1b 1 1 1 0, Miller dh (Williamson lf) 3 2 3 3, E. Williams 3b 3 0 0 1
Pitching IP H R ER BB K PC
LV- Youtsey (L) 2.2 7 9 9 3 3 62
Leeth 2.0 5 2 2 0 1 36
VW- Henry (W) 5.0 0 1 1 5 6 81