Friday, March 29th, 2024

Pitchers' duel

Parkway gets the better of Celina in county contest

By Gary R. Rasberry
Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Parkway's Caiden Berry (6) shows the ball to the umpire after tagging out Celina's Zander Jones on a stolen base attempt during Thursday's baseball game at Montgomery Field.

CELINA - It was one of those baseball games where the phrase "hard-luck loss" comes to mind.

Parkway and Celina engaged in a early-season pitchers' duel on Thursday.

Celina pitchers allowed just six hits and two walks, but the Bulldog offense was shut down by the Panthers in a 2-0 victory in Mercer County circuit play at Montgomery Field.

Devon Crouch and Braxton Ford teamed up to hold Celina hitters to just three hits and four walks over the distance as Parkway moved to 2-0 on the season.

"That's our two things right now: pitching and defense," said Parkway coach Neil Schaffner. "Devon was getting the curveball over."

Celina assistant coach Dave Maurer, filling in for John Dorner, could only tip his cap to the Panthers.

"Our bats were a little flat today," said Maurer. "Coach Schaffner has his guys fundamentally sound. He's going to have a successful year because they do all the little things well. They made some really great plays out there."

Crouch walked the leadoff batter in three of his four innings of work, but on all three occasions, the runner was either left stranded at third base or forced out on a fielder's choice.

The fourth inning, Crouch's last inning on the mound, was the only time the Bulldogs had two runners on. Max Baumstark led off with a walk, and one out later, Zander Jones singled to right - the first hit of the game for Celina - to put runners on first and second. Caleb Stephenson bunted the runners up a base to bring on Zach Greber, who popped out to Ford at first to end the threat.

Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Celina's Brodee Schulte-Arnold goes down to try and make a catch during Thursday's game with Parkway.

Ford took over on the hill in the fifth and got two quick outs before Brodee Schulte-Arnold blooped a single over second base, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Ford recovered to get Nick Steinbrunner to fly out to right to end the threat.

'When Celina hit the ball, it was right to (a defender),"said Schaffner. "I thought our defense played well today. We had guys at multiple positions (due to changing pitchers)."

"Seemed like we hit the ball well, they had somebody make a diving catch or leaping catch or running catch," said Maurer of Parkway's defense. "Give them credit. We just couldn't come through when we needed to."

The Panther defense continued to shine in the sixth as Zander Jones reached on a two-out walk, only to get thrown out by Kolt Harner trying to steal second. Celina got a leadoff single from Stephenson in the bottom of the seventh, but Ford retired the next three batters to end the game.

Parkway got the go-ahead run in the top of the first as Apollo Thomas belted a one-out double to the fence in left and Crouch followed with a double down the third base line. Jones avoided more trouble with back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Parkway's Carson Kirby chases down a fly ball in right field against Celina on Thursday.

In the second, Xavier Samples led off with an infield single. Jacoby Triplett singled to right and went to second on the throw went to third to try and get Samples. Jones then uncorked a wild pitch to score Samples, but got the next two batters out to end the threat.

From there, Jones shut down Parkway for his final three innings of work, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out seven. Max Baumstark came on in the sixth and allowed a single to Samples and a walk and hit a batter, but got through unscathed.

"Zander got out to a rough start, but once he settled in, he pitched how we'd expect Zander Jones to pitch," said Maurer. "Max came in and pitched just as well as (Jones) did."

"I thought they were in the zone the whole time," said Schaffner of the Celina pitchers. "When it's a 2-0 game, it's a good baseball game."

Samples had the lone multi-hit game on the day, going 2-for-3.

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Both teams are at home on Saturday. Parkway plays host to Delphos Jefferson while Celina welcomes New Bremen to Montgomery Field.

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