By John Parent
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
DELPHOS - Tyler Rice worked six solid innings on the mound and helped his own cause with a pair of doubles and two runs scored as the Jefferson Wildcats evened their record with an 8-3 win over Northwest Conference rival Lincolnview on Monday evening.
The Jeffcats wasted little time in jumping on Lancer starter Eli Farmer as right fielder Ryan Bullinger lined a sharp single to center with one out in the bottom of the first. Farmer then fell behind Ross Thompson and the senior was sitting on a fastball and didn't miss the Farmer offering, driving the ball into the left-center field gap for a double. Bullinger came home with the game's first run when Austin Jettinghoff lifted a fly ball to medium depth left field for a sacrifice fly and run batted in.
The Wildcats tacked on two more runs in the second,
After Farmer retired the first two batters on the frame, a five-pitch walk to the number nine batter, Nick Fitch, ignited a Jefferson rally. Jace Stockwell found the gap and cruised into second with a double, moving Fitch to third. The Jefferson cacher came home on a wild pitch, and Bullinger's slow roller to short became an RBI single when he beat Austin Leeth's throw to first, allowing Stockwell to score.
Those runs looked like they might be huge when the Lancers mounted a threat in the top of the third. After Rice had faced the minimum through two, he ran into control problems facing the bottom of the Lincolnview order.
Tyler Richey worked a seven-pitch walk and Farmer earned a free pass behind him. After Troy Patterson's bunt advanced the runners, Leeth loaded the bases by working the third walk of the inning against Rice.
Rice fought back, getting Dalton Schmersal on strikes for the second time in the game, but Kyle Williams hit a slow roller that found a home between the mound and the third base line where no Wildcat defender could make a play. The infield single was the first hit for the Lancers and it brought home their first run.
With the bags still full, Lincolnview threatened to tie the score, but Stockwell made a diving stab at a ground ball back through the middle and was able to force Williams at second to end the inning.
"Defensively, we were pretty solid," Jefferson coach Doug Geary explained. "The biggest play of the game, Lincolnview got it back to 3-1 and had the bases loaded. That play right there (that Stockwell made) changed the completion of the game. It could have been tied, but we made the play and then we added on the next inning."
The Jeffcats scored in each of the first five innings, in fact, and Rice was helped out by some slick defensive plays along the way. In the fifth, after a lead-off walk, Rice made a leaping catch of a Patterson soft liner over the mound and fired to first to complete the double play. Stockwell turned a pair of double plays, fielding grounders near the bag in the fourth and seventh innings, each time stepping on second and completing the play with a throw to first.
Lincolnview's Connor McCleery drove a ball to deep left field with two runners on in the top of the sixth, accounting for the final runs for the Lancers.
"Right from the start, we really just didn't have it tonight," said Lincolnview coach Kevin Longstreth. "It just never really felt like we put a lot of pressure on (Jefferson). We were able to push a couple across late, but it was too late by that point."
Jefferson 10 hits in the game including five doubles. Rice walked five and struck out five in his 91-pitch effort. Jettinghoff worked a scoreless seventh inning to sew up the win.
"This was probably the best we've put it together with the sticks," Geary noted. "It wasn't one of those games where we're bunting and stealing, we just put some hits together and kept adding on."
Lincolnview 001 002 0 - 3 3 1
Jefferson 123 110 x - 8 10 1
Leeth ss 3-0-0-0, D. Schmersal lf-3b 3-1-0-0, Williams cf 3-0-1-1, Friesner rf 3-1-0-0, McCleery 1b 3-0-1-2, Youtsey 3b-p 3-0-0-0, Richey c 2-1-1-0, Farmer p-lf 1-0-0-0, Patterson 2b 2-0-0-0
Stockwell ss 3-1-1-1, Bullinger rf-1b 4-1-2-1, Thompson 3b 4-1-2-0, Jettinghoff 2b-p 2-1-2-2, x- Stemen pr 0-0-0-0, Binkley lf-2b 3-1-0-0, Mercer 1b 2-0-0-1, x- Wallenhaupt ph-rf 1-0-0-0, Rice p 3-2-2-1, Herron dh 2-0-0-1, x- Teman cf 1-0-1-0, Fitch c 1-1-0-0
WP- Rice 6.0 IP 3 H 3 R 3 ER 5 BB 5 K
LP- Farmer 4.1 IP 8 H 8 R 7 ER 2 BB 2 K