By SCOTT COTTOS
ELIDA — Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many runs you score or how they come.
Ottawa-Glandorf’s state-ranked baseball team could take that to the bank on Thursday after it cashed in on a few Spencerville miscues, received a strong pitching performance from Grant Fuerst and posted a 2-0 victory in the first of two Division III district semifinals at Ed Sandy Field.
The Titans, 18-6 and ranked 11th in the final Division III state coaches’ poll, notched the game’s only runs on an error and a passed ball. O-G will take on No. 8 Coldwater at 1 p.m. Saturday at Ed Sandy Field.
Coldwater edged Lima Central Catholic 2-0 in the second district semifinal Thursday.
Spencerville dropped to 14-12 to end the season.
Fuerst scored one of his team’s runs and turned in a complete game five-hitter on the mound that included six strikeouts, no walks and a pair of outstanding defensive plays behind him. That all the Titans needed to best Spencerville pitcher Jake Meyer, this year’s Northwest Conference Player of the Year.
“We knew going in it was going to be a struggle to put runs on the board against Jake Meyer,” O-G coach Nick Miller said. “He threw the ball very well, but you’ve got to give credit to our pitcher. He battled against one of the better pitchers in the area, and he matched him inning for inning and threw zeroes all the way across the board.”
Fuerst, a junior, was elated to gain a shot at a landmark victory for his school.
“It feels great that we’re in the district finals,” he said. “We get a chance to win the district for the first time in 35 years.”
Meyer also allowed just five hits while striking out eight and walking three. A couple of Spencerville mistakes proved costly.
In the bottom of the fourth, Fuerst stroked a one-out single, went to second on Logan Balbaugh’s single and reached third on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Nathan Arrington. Fuerst then scored when Bearcats shortstop Damon Blair mishandled Logan Miller’s two-out ground ball.
“It felt amazing. … It took a lot of tension out of me,” Fuerst said of pitching with a lead.
The Titans scratched their second run in the sixth despite Meyer registering a rare four-strikeout inning.
Balbaugh went down on strikes for what would have been the second out had the ball not gotten past Spencerville catcher Kale Lee. He then took second and third on wild pitches and scored on a passed ball.
O-G left the bases loaded in the second inning after stranding a runner at third in the first. The Bearcats moved a runner as far as second only twice, including the fourth inning when Arrington, the Titans’ first baseman, dove to his right to spear Luke Market’s two-out line drive.
O-G gained another standout defensive play in the sixth when center fielder Evan Balash raced in and made a diving catch of Brady Nolan’s liner for the inning’s second out.
“Grant was very efficient today,” Nick Miller said. “He really commanded the strike zone. It’s been all year with him. He’s been able to locate his fastball and curveball all year and just keep guys off balance a little bit, where it’s just missing the barrel a little bit.
“And, defensively, we know we’re going to have to make plays behind Grant. He’s not a big strikeout pitcher, and they showed up. After the first batter (with Meyer reaching on an error), they played errorless baseball throughout the game. They made some nice plays and also made the routine plays, which we had to do.”
Spencerville 000 000 0 — 0 5 1
Ottawa-Glandorf 000 101 x — 2 5 1
WP — Fuerst. LP — Meyer. top hitters: (Spen) Becker & Thiery 2-1B. (O-G) Fortman 2B.
records: Spencerville 14-12, Ottawa-Glandorf 18-6.