PBR Spotlight game: Bryan at Defiance

By Dylan Hefflinger

DEFIANCE-  Game three for the Strike Out Cancer even at Booster Field paired northwest Ohio rivals Defiance against Bryan. The game took on a tournament-type feel and you could see that in the players and well as the fans in the stands. Rob Zeigler, RHP

Robert Zeigler was on the mound for the 8-1 Bulldogs and the junior was consistently in the upper-80s topping out at 90 which he hit in the 6th inning a couple times. The 6-4, 210-pound Zeigler gave up 3 earned runs on 5 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 7 batters.

Bryan (5-1) elected to go with Blake Kuszmaul, a 5-9 junior who was outstanding on the day. Kuszmaul velocity was in the low 80s throughout, going the distance allowing 2 runs on 6 hits. Kuszmaul walked 4, while striking out just one.

"Blake Kuszmaul threw a great game for us and kept them off-balance. He did not have his best stuff but he battled and our defense played well behind him," coach Jeff Inselmann.

Defiance led 2-1 entering the fifth when Bryan took the lead with a pair of two-out runs. A Derk Hug double plated Kuszmaul, who opened the inning with a walk. Hug then came home on a Joe Borland double.

"At the plate our guys battled and we found a way to put the ball in play against one of the best pitching prospects in the state," Inselmann said. "When you put it in play good things happen and we were able to find some holes. Derek Hug had a great day with a double and triple and Joe Borland a single and double to lead the charge. Those guys are seniors and they led our team today."

Bryan pushed across two more runs in the 7th knocking out Zeigler. After an error, Collin Bacon reached on an infield single off the umpire. With 6-4, 240-pound junior lefty Weston Rivers on the hill, the Golden Bears managed to add a pair of cushion runs with a bases loaded, two-out bad-hop single to left by Matt Chaney.

"I thought Bryan flat out beat us," Defiance coach Tom Held said. "Of the 21 outs, we put the ball in play 20 times and Bryan made the plays. I thought Blake Kuszmaul threw a great game and really competed on the hill for Bryan.  Bryan did a better job of getting the big hit when they needed it and we didn't."

Both teams will put long league winning streaks on the line this week with Defiance, winners of 52 straight Western Buckeye League games, hosting Lima Bath (9-2) on Tuesday while Bryan, which has won 32  in a row in the NWOAL, visiting Patrick Henry (5-4), where Inselmann's dad Greg led the Patriots to the 2008 Division III state title.

"Overall, this was a huge win for us against a quality program but it is only one win. We have to continue to work hard each day and come to the ballpark ready to go because we start our league schedule Monday vs. a tough Patrick Henry team," concluded Inselmann.