Minster Will Face Longtime Tourney Nemesis Crestview, Fort Loramie Moves On

Austin Brown threw a complete game to lift Minster to a district win over St. Henry. (Photo by John Zwez)
Staff Writer

There’s something about the postseason that brings out the best in Minster, even against a team that beat the Wildcats by 10 runs just last month.

The defending state champions continued their tournament bracket mastery on Wednesday, downing sixth-ranked and top-seeded St. Henry 5-1 behind the complete game by southpaw ace Austin Brown and five clutch two-out runs in the late innings.

St. Henry had won the match-up 13-3 back on April 12 when a disastrous 11-run fifth inning undid the  Wildcats.  Brown made sure that sort of offensive onslaught wouldn’t happen again. Brown shut out St. Henry for six innings and finished off a seven-hit complete game. Meanwhile the Wildcat offense put up crooked numbers in two late innings, aided by clutch two-out RBI hits that proved to be enough to defeat the Midwest Athletic Conference co-champion Redskins.

The Wildcats won their 20th game and advance to Friday’s district championship game against long-time tournament nemesis Crestview.

Minster finished the regular season ranked No. 14 in the Ohio HIgh School Baseball Coaches Association poll with a 19-win season, but the Wildcats struggled at times against a loaded Midwest Athletic Conference. At one point Mike Wiss’ squad was under .500 in league play. Minster finished strong to finish 5-4 in the conference and is now playing the brand of baseball that led to a state championship a season ago and three times in the last decade.

Wednesday’s game was scoreless until Minster’s two-out, three-run rally in the fifth inning. After a lead-off Jack Heitbrink walk and a sacrifice bunt by Austin Shinabery advanced the runner to second, Adam Knapke singled to center field but hit it too sharply to score Heitbrink from second. After a pop-up made the second out of the inning, St. Henry was an out away from escaping the jam. But Jacob Hoying delivered a line-drive double on a 1-0 count to score two runs for the 2-0 lead. A batter later, Jack Olberding singled to center field to drive in Hoying for the 3-0 lead.

Minster tacked on two more runs in the seventh with another two-out rally. With two on and two out, Isaac Schmiesing lined a single to right field that scored August Boehnlein from second base. A batter later Alex Lehmkuhl delivered another two-out clutch RBI with an infield single to score Olberding.

St. Henry broke up the shutout in the bottom of the seventh, as the top-seeded team in the district made one last attempt at staving off elimination with a lead-off single by Ryan Bruening and a run scored on a wild pitch. Brown got a pop-up to shortstop, where Schmiesing squeezed the final out to clinch the 5-1 victory, however.

Minster will once against meet Crestview, a squad Minster knows well.  With all of Minster’s championship success over the past decade, it might’ve been an even more prolific dynasty if it hadn’t been for Crestview proving to often be a roadblock for the Wildcats.

In 2016, Minster beat the Knights in a district semifinal game 2-1. Crestview won a district title game over Minster 5-2 in 2014. Crestview knocked off Minster 10-2 in 2013 in a district semifinal, a loss that ended Minster’s run as back-to-back state champion in Division IV. In 2011 and 2012, Minster beat Crestview by 13-4 and 4-3 scores in  district games that eventually propelled Minster to its back-to-back state titles. Crestview knocked off Minster 3-0 in a 2010 district semi.

FORT LORAMIE 6, TRIAD 1: Fort Loramie advanced to the district title game with a 6-1 win over Triad at Sidney on Wednesday night. The Redskins will now face Tri-County North on Friday at 5 p.m. at Duke Park in Troy.