Adams Central’s 11-5 victory over Wayne Thursday afternoon had an opportunity to end far sooner than it did.
The Patriots were on the verge of blanking Wayne behind an offensive outpour that pushed the score past the run rule. They were flourishing, riding the left arm of Creighton Jacobitz, who needed three outs to polish off AC’s first-ever shutout victory.
But Jacobitz, after an extended sit between the fourth and fifth innings while his offense added six runs in its half of the fourth, lost his touch, if only briefly.
The cold arm issued three consecutive walks after he had retired the Blue Devils’ leadoff in the fifth. The third in a row produced the first Wayne run on a wild pitch, but the mercy rule remained in effect.
Jacobitz struck out the next hitter, the top of Wayne’s order, before more damage was done and the 8-run rule wiped away.
James Dorcey’s only hit of the afternoon scored two runs and a single by Brooks Kneifl two batters later made the game 10-4.
The Blue Devils (10-7) found hope, which was the last thing AC coach Travis McCarter wanted them to discover. Wayne batted around before the inning was done, forcing Jacobitz’s pitch count to nearly double.
But after a 1-2-3 sixth on just 11 pitches, confidence in the Patriots’ ace was restored. Until the seventh, when he walked Wayne’s nine-hole and was promptly traded out for Nick Conant, who pitched the final three outs at Duncan Field.
“I didn’t want to see the same movie,” McCarter said on his decision to pull Jacobitz in the seventh. “I had Nick ready to go and he’s a kid that came in and closed for us earlier in the year and he just brings and energy to the mound. He’s not a pitcher per se, but a good competitor and athlete.”
Jacobitz did earn the win with his line of six-plus innings, six Ks, four walks, and the five hits he scattered. He was charged with four earned runs of the five Wayne scored.
“Minus the one inning, he did a nice job,” McCarter said of his southpaw. “We were working on a few things. The changeup was something we hadn’t thrown a lot of and so we worked on that a lot today. So, he got better.”
Wayne threw freshman Kaleb Moormeier at the Patriots and he didn’t last long. Adams Central sent him packing after three innings. Moormeier was charged with six runs — four were earned.
“The kids took advantage of the ball when it was up in the zone,” McCarter said. “We barreled some balls up and we kind of challenged them in batting practice this week to turn on the ball a little bit.”
Macrae Huyser welcomed Moormeier to the mound with a leadoff triple and Conant plated him with a sacrifice fly.
Joe Peshek, who finished 3-for-4, doubled with one out in the second and scored on Hyatt Collins’ two-out single.
After two blunders on the base paths in the third, Jayden Teichmeier and Tyson LeBar stroked back-to-back singles. Sam Dierks reached on an error and Peshek knocked an RBI single for AC’s 4-0 lead.
Jacobitz and the Patriots carried all the momentum after 3 1/2 innings when the lefty punched out Victor Kniesche with a pretty curveball to end the frame.
The Patriots’ outburst in the next half should have sealed the game. A Wayne error with two-outs allowed Adams Central to break it open. LeBar crushed a two-run triple and later Isaac Meyer drove in two more with a double in the gap.
In response to Wayne’s chip at the lead, Teichmeier launched a ball that would have cleared the fence almost anywhere but Duncan Field. His triple produced the final tally when he eventually scored on a passed ball.
“I wanted to see what kind of reaction the kids had and I thought they responded decently,” McCarter said. “Jayden Teichmeier comes out and hits a 375-foot shot and we scratched across a run. That’s a big response there and he’s done that more than once. He’s a freshman and you don’t have to be a senior to be a leader.”
The Patriots (8-6) have doubleheaders Friday and Saturday before a home finale on May 4 against St. Paul/Palmer. Then, it’s off to the Class B, District 4 tournament at Skutt on May 6.
“I think we’re playing our best ball right now,” McCarter said. “We hadn’t played very good ball at the beginning of the year, but the kids keep working and keep doing that one thing I have asked of them day in and day out. You can see the growth right in front of you.”
WHS (10-7).......000 040 1 — 5 5 4
AC (8-6).........112 601 1 — 11 12 2
W — Creighton Jacobitz. L — Kaleb Moormeier.
2B — AC, Joe Peshek, Isaac Meyer.
3B — AC, Macrae Husyer, Tyson LeBar, Jayden Teichmeier. W, Reid Korth, Brooks Kneifl.