Moving on

Pirates top Truckers, advance to 17th district under Neill
Don Hohler
May 20, 2014
Left-hander Braun Miller faced just three batters over the limit in going the first six innings Monday afternoon as Perkins shutout Norwalk (8-15), 7-0 in a Division II sectional championship at Perkins High School.

Miller allowed three hits while striking out nine and walking one before giving way to junior Trevon Moore, the latter allowing one hit in preserving the shutout.

Perkins (20-4), who under Ray Neill has advanced to the district tournament 17 out of the last 18 years, has little time to rest on its laurels. It faces Lexington in the 2 p.m. district semifinal at Mansfield Madison High School on Thursday.

Before facing the Minutemen, the Pirates must finish a suspended Sandusky Bay Conference game with Oak Harbor today on top of a regularly scheduled game to follow. Perkins also must play St. Mary Central Catholic once more in league play. That game was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but the Panthers will also be in district semifinal action in Div. IV.

“It was a good win for us,” Neill said. “Anytime you beat the Wes Douglas-coached Norwalk program it is a solid win. One can always expect a good game when you play that program. We combined what Norwalk gave us with six superb innings from Braun Miller”    “We did not hit the ball that great, so when Norwalk failed to make a couple of plays in the infield, it really helped our cause,” Neill added.

Perkins scored three runs in the first, two in the second and then two insurance runs in the sixth.

Trucker starter Job Adkins gave up a leadoff single to Devin Dubbert and a double in the alley in left-center to Thane Walton. Dale Irby’s ground ball scored the first run and two more came around on the first of four Trucker errors.

Tanner Trent reached on an infield single in the second. After a walk to Dubbert, Walton was hit by a pitch. Luke Fraley lofted his first of two sacrifice flies to center for the fourth run. Another throwing error allowed the fifth Pirate to cross the plate.

Douglas changed pitchers to start the third, sending senior right-hander Carson Sparks to the hill. He continued his stretch of solid performances, pitching to just two batters over the limit over the next three innings. He surrendered two runs in the sixth, Tyler Puckerin scoring on an error after a leadoff walk while Tanner, who had singled, worked his way around, scoring on Fraley’s second sacrifice fly.

Meanwhile, Miller was perfect through three innings. He gave up his first hit to Joseph Hinckley as the leadoff batter in the fourth. He also allowed singles to Daylin Gough in the fifth and Ben Neuberger in the sixth.

Alex Keefer reached on an infield hit for Norwalk (8-15) in the seventh. Perkins had seven hits, two each by Walton and Trent.Dubbert, Kyle Lewis and Miller had one each.

“We needed to put the ball in play, make some contact,” Douglas said. “Combining four hits with as many errors is not a winning formula. Playing from behind against Perkins and Ray Neill makes for a bad situation. We could not afford to make those mistakesin the infield.

“The pitchers on both sides did good jobs” he added. “Carson Sparks pitched another fine game for us, his fifth straight solid performance. None of the pitchers were terrible”

Norwalk is at Willard today to close out the season. The Truckers haven’t won less than 13 games in a season since going 8-19 in 1997, which was Douglas’ first year as coach.

“I expect these guys to snap back and give me another good game” Douglas said. “They have given me their best all season”

Norwalk 000 000 0 — 0 4 4
Perkins  320 002 x — 7 7 1

WP-Miller; LP-Adkins 2B: (P) Walton