By Rob Kiser
It was a game where the Piqua baseball team rallied in the home seventh, the missed several opportunities to win in extra innings Saturday at Hardman Field.
In the end, the Chieftans were able to score four runs in the 12th inning to post a 7-3 victory and drop Piqua to 8-8 on the season. Bellefontaine improved to 15-3.
“Again, it was a lot like Northmont (Friday night),” Piqua coach Jared Askins said. “When you play a team of that caliber, you have to take advantage of your opportunities.”
The Indians, who had just one hit off starter Lane Wisner entering the seventh, trailed 31-.
Derrick Gullett started the inning with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch.
When Bellefontaine tried to get Gullett out going back to second on Derek Hite’s grounder, Piqua had the tying runs on.
Tyler Jones, who relieved Wisner after Gullett’s walk, got a strikeout.
But, Ethan Garland’s fielder’s choice made it 3-2 and moved Hite to third.
An error on Logan Harris’ grounder scored Hite to tie the game and force extra innings.
“We did a great job coming back in the seventh and getting the game to extra innings,” Askins said.
While, Bellefontaine didn’t threaten until the 12th, Piqua missed golden opportunities to score in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings.
In the eighth, a single by Rupert Delacruz and walk to Gullett put runners on first and second with one out.
In the ninth, a walk to Garland and sacrifice by Harris put a runner on second with one out.
In the tenth, Travis Smith singled and moved to second when the ball got past the centerfielder — again with one out.
But, Piqua never even advanced a runner to third base in any of those situations.
“We just couldn’t get a big hit when we needed it,” Askins said. “We did the right things, moving runners with bunts and things like that.”
After Harris, who entered in the seventh, had pitched five innings of scoreless relief Bellefontaine broke through with four runs in the 12th.
With one out, Sam Martz was hit by a pitch and Jones singled. Clay Wisner singled in a run to make it 4-3. After Zach Lutrell relieved Harris, two runs scored on an error and Tommy Belser had a RBI single to make it 7-3.
Chase Braun pitch five innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win for Bellefontaine.
The game had started as a pitcher’s dual between Austin Davis and Lane Wisner.
Piqua broke through in the home fourth to go up 1-0.
Cory Cottrell walked, moved to second on a wild pitch, was sacrificed to third by Delacruz and scored on Gullett’s two-out single, Piqua’s first hit of the game.
Bellefontaine answered with three runs in the fifth.
Cole Braun started things with a single.
On two straight bunts, Piqua had consecutive two-base throwing errors to make it 2-0 and Chase Braun added a RBI single.
It stayed that way until Piqua rallied in the seventh.
“Against a team the caliber of Bellefontaine, you have to take advantage of opportunities and make every play,” Askins said. “We didn’t do that. Austin (Davis) and Logan (Harris) did a great job. It is the same thing you could say all year. So, did Blake (Wright) and Zach (Luttrell). Zach came in an had good location.”
Piqua hurt themselves at the plate, striking out 17 times. The Indians were outhit by the Chieftains 14-4.
“It is tough to score runs when you can’t put the bat on the ball,” Askins said.
Piqua was coming off a 6-0 loss to Northmont in GWOC crossover action.
“We didn’t have very many chances at all (to score),” Askins said. “We just didn’t play the way we needed to.”
The Indians face two big GWOC North games with Vandalia-Butler Monday and Tuesday.
The Aviators are 6-0 in the North, while Piqua is 5-1.
The two teams play at Vandalia Monday and at Piqua Tuesday.
“That is going to be a big challenge,” Askins said.
Where the Indians will need to make every play.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.