Delone Catholic came out on the wrong side of its first District 3 baseball playoff game in four years on Thursday afternoon.
The second-seeded Squires fell to visiting Newport in an 11-7 shootout that saw both teams with plenty of base runners.
Despite the loss, however, Delone coach Dave Neumayer and his players aren’t get too down on themselves.
“Our seniors expressed to these guys that are left here that we’ve got a pretty good core here,” Neumayer said after the game. “We talked about development. It’s good for these younger guys. We haven’t been in districts in four years. It was a different stage and they’ve never tasted it, even the seniors.”
Junior Jake Sherdel got the start for the Squires (11-9) and retired the first two hitters before Newport (15-5) star Andrew Bates stepped up to the plate and sent the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence for a 1-0 lead.
Sherdel kept the damage to one, however, and Delone got right back in it in its half of the first. Leadoff hitter Avery Kuntz worked a walk after falling behind 0-2 and then came home three batters later on a single by Wyatt Schussler. The Squires threatened to add more, but Newport starter Matthew Bates was able to get a pop-out and then a punchout of Ryan Moore to strand runners at first and second.
After a scoreless top of the second, Delone took a lead in the bottom half when Brodie Collins, who reached on a leadoff single, came home to score on a wild pitch. Once again the Squires stranded a runner, however, and led just 2-1 after two.
“We got our guys in position and got the guys we wanted at the plate, we just couldn’t come up with the timely hits,” Neumayer said of the seven runners his team left on base.
The third-seeded Buffaloes made the Squires pay in the top of the third. After a leadoff double and an intentional walk to Bates, Huggins knocked an RBI double to center field and later came around to score on a single, giving his team a 4-2 lead.
Sherdel, not to be outdone, continued the back and forth affair in the bottom of the third as he stroked a two-run single to left to tie the game and put his team right back in it.
“That’s really been the way they’ve been all year,” Neumayer said of his team’s fight back. “You know, we had a tough stretch there in the middle of the year where I think we lost like five in a row and then they came back to win seven of eight to end the season. So they’ve got that fight in them.”
Unfortunately for the Squires, Newport had fight in it as well. The fourth inning saw the Buffaloes tack on four more runs before Huggins came out in the bottom half and sat the hosts down in order.
In the fifth, Bates all but put the game to bed. After Sherdel was pulled following four innings, Aidan Wittmer took the mound. Wittmer was able to get the first two outs of the innings after an error and a single put two on, but with two down and an 0-1 count against him, Bates took a Wittmer pitch deep over the fence in left-center for a three-run home run to make it 11-4.
“We knew he was a hitter,” Neumayer said of Bates. “The first one he just made a really nice swing and then the second time he comes up I decide to put him on and the next guy comes up and puts one in the gap. So it’s a funny game sometimes.”
Bates finished the game 4-for-4 with a walk, five RBI and three runs scored.
Delone got a run back on a Schussler home run in the bottom of the fifth and added two more in the seventh, but weren’t quite able to get all the way back.
“Our guys came out today and battled,” Neumayer said. “Sometimes things just don’t go your way.”
Clay Sauertieg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Newport 103 430 0 — 11 13 6
Delone Catholic 112 010 2 — 7 7 3
Mason Huggins, Perry Wright (7). Jake Sherdel, Aidan Wittmer (5), Brodie Collins (7) and Wyatt Schlusser. WP: Huggins. LP: Sherdel. SO-BB: N-Huggins 4-4, Wright 0-0; DC-Sherdel 7-3, Wittmer 1-2, Collins 0-1. 2B: N-Grant Kauffman, Huggins. HR: N-Andrew Bates 2; DC-Schlusser.