WILCOX – Fox Township and Wilcox could have played deep into the night Saturday but instead settled for an 11-11 tie after the game was halted due to darkness after seven innings of play.
The game featured six lead changes before Wilcox knotted the game at 11-11 in the bottom of the seventh inning. On top of the back-and-forth contest, the clouds parted for rain throughout the game and drenched the field prior to the start.
Holding an early 2-0 lead after a Quinn Luhr single in the bottom of the second inning emptied the bases, Fox Township got on the board as Brian Merritt scored on a passed ball with starting pitcher Quinn Luhr on the hill to cut the lead to 2-1.
Wilcox had trouble of their own with opposing pitching as Bob Vollmer yielded only two runs in four innings.
After Zac Luhr inherited two base-runners in the top of the fourth inning with a 1-run lead, a passed ball moved the runners into scoring position before Rocco Harshbarger connected for a 2-run single for a 3-2 advantage.
Fox Township then tagged Zac Luhr for three straight doubles to take a 6-2 lead. Dave Sheeley doubled to put two runners on before Merritt cracked a double to plate Harshbarger and Sheeley; Merritt moved to third base on a poor throw past home plate and Bob Vollmer added another run with a double of his own for a 6-2 lead.
But in the bottom of the fifth inning Bob Vollmer ran into trouble and was lifted after loading the bases with a walk to Jesse Reynolds and consecutive singles to Mitchell Holmberg and Josh Mitchell.
Justin Quiggle relieved the starter and quickly lost the lead in less than 10 minutes; Quiggle hit both Joe Holmberg and Cameron Grumley with pitches to bring in two runs and cut the lead to 6-4. After Zac Luhr hit a shallow flyout to center field for the first out of the inning, Mitchell and Joe Holmberg both scored on wild pitches to tie the game at 6-6. Wilcox head coach Jeff Peterson then ordered the suicide squeeze which worked to perfection as Quinn Luhr laid down a soft bunt as Grumley ran home to take a 7-6 lead.
With Mitchell on the hill for Wilcox in the top of the sixth inning, Fox Township was able to retake the lead. With two outs on the board and Bob Vollmer at second base after a leadoff walk and stolen base, Justin Beimel connected with a liner to center field to knot the game at 7-7.
After a walk to Branden Tyger and catcher's interference to put Brandon Vollmer aboard, Harshbarger followed with a 2-run single to plate Beimel and Tyger for a 9-7 lead. Mitchell allowed a walk to Sheeley to load the bases again before catching Merritt swinging.
A four-pitch walk by Quiggle allowed Cole Peterson to reach safely to start the bottom of the sixth inning. Consecutive flyouts allowed Quiggle the chance to escape the inning unscathed but he followed with consecutive walks to Mitchell and Joe Holmberg to load the bases. Grumley promptly followed with a bases-clearing double to left-center field to take a 10-9 lead.
The top of the seventh inning resembled the last inning as Mitchell allowed a leadoff walk to Bob Vollmer, who later stole second base on a strikeout to Joe McLaughlin. Unfazed, Mitchell had a 2-strike count on Beimel before he stroked a tricky liner to the mound. The ball took an odd bounce before rolling between first and second base. Second baseman Frank Kocjancic made a throw from his knees to first base but Joe Holmberg juggled the toss which allowed Brian Vollmer to tie the game.
"The pitching came through and [Fox Township] was able to get a little dribbler to tie it up there on Josh [Mitchell] with two outs-- if Joe [Holmberg] makes a little scoop over here then it's over but it didn't happen," coach Peterson said. "Otherwise, Fox Township hit the ball and [Bob] Vollmer did a nice job pitching against us."
Michael Fox came in as a pinch runner for Beimel and later scored on a single from Tyger for an 11-10 lead. Mitchell then caught Brandon Vollmer looking to end the inning.
Fox Township brought Beimel in to close the bottom of the seventh inning but Wilcox had other plans. After a flyout to center from Quinn Luhr, Kocjancic drew a base on balls before Peterson was hit by a pitch to put two runners aboard. A single from Reynolds loaded the bases before a Mitchell Holmberg groundout brought in Kocjancic to tie the game at 11-11. Mitchell was then able to reach base with a walk to again load the bases but Joe Holmberg was unable to cash in and he hit a sharp liner to left field that was caught for the final out.
"This is the way the game goes but I think our players showed a lot of character," coach Peterson said. "We could've folded up after being down by four runs, we had a [crap] inning but we were able to come back.
"I honestly thought we were going to end it there with Joe Holmberg taking a shot but nobody gave up."
Despite the tie, Fox Township outhit Wilcox 12-8, a statistic that didn't sit well with coach Peterson.
"I think we could've hit a lot better than we did, we looked a little sluggish and lazy batting in a few spots," coach Peterson said. "There were a couple passed balls and walks on both ends-- every time they got a guy on, they got a passed ball and moved to second.
"That's where we struggled and that kicked our [butt] I don't know how many times-- then they'd get a hit and bring a run in. I'll take this draw because at times there, it could've easily been a loss."
After seven innings, the umpires called the game due to darkness.
"I think Quinn [Luhr] did a good job for us and I wanted to get Ben [MacDonald] in to get his feet wet a little bit, and that was good for him," coach Peterson said. "We came back out of it and I thought we threw well in the later innings, and I was going to ride [Josh] Mitchell one more inning had we been able to."
The two teams are scheduled to pick up the game at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Wilcox before Wilcox's game at St. Marys at 7:30 p.m.
Fox Township AB R H BI
Brian Merritt 5 2 2 2
Bob Vollmer 3 2 2 1
Justin Quiggle 5 0 1 0
Joe McLaughlin 4 0 0 0
Justin Beimel 5 1 3 2
Branden Tyger 2 2 2 1
Brandon Vollmer 2 1 0 0
Rocco Harshbarger 4 1 1 0
Dave Sheeley 3 1 1 0
Michael Fox 0 1 0 0
Totals 33 11 12 6
2B: Merritt, Sheeley, Bo. Vollmer. SB: Bo. Vollmer 2.
Wilcox AB R H BI
Cole Peterson 3 1 0 0
Jesse Reynolds 3 1 0 0
Mitchell Holmberg 4 1 2 1
Josh Mitchell 3 2 3 0
Joe Holmberg 3 3 1 1
Cameron Grumley 1 2 1 4
Zac Luhr 4 0 0 0
Quinn Luhr 2 0 1 3
Frank Kocjancic 1 1 0 0
Ben MacDonald 1 0 0 0
Totals 25 11 8 9
2B: Grumley. SAC BUNT: Q. Luhr.
Fox Township 001 503 2 - 11
Wilcox 020 053 1 - 11
Fox Township IP H R BB K
Bob Vollmer 4+ 7 2 3 2
Justin Quiggle 2 1 8 3 1
Justin Beimel 1 1 1 2 0
*Bob Vollmer pitched to 3 batters in the bottom of the 5th inning.
Wilcox IP H R BB K
Quinn Luhr 3 3 1 1 0
Ben MacDonald 0.1 0 0 2 0
Zac Luhr 0.2 4 5 1 1
Mitchell Holmberg 1 1 0 1 1
Josh Mitchell 2 4 5 4 5