PBR Spotlight game: No. 6 Wapakoneta at No. 1 Defiance

By Dylan Hefflinger

DEFIANCE- After a three-week wait, the battle of Division II powerhouses took place at Booster Field in Defiance. No. 1 Defiance and No. 6 Wapakoneta resumed their play that was halted by rain on April 20th. Knotted at  2-2 after one inning of play heading into Friday's game, Defiance scored the lone run in the final six innings to capture a 3-2 victory.

The win capped a perfect 9-0 Western Buckeye League mark for the top-ranked Bulldogs, which now have a  59-game winning streak in the league.

Wapakoneta continued to pitch talented sophomore Chace Culver, while Defiance went with their number two, Kentucky recruit Robert Zeigler.

The Bulldogs scored the only run on the day in the bottom of the 3rd. Lead-off hitter Anthony Kidston started the frame with a hit-by-pitch after being down in the count. Kidston swiped second, his 25th of the season, to get into scoring position. After a groundout, Zeigler helped himself out with a long drive to deep center for an RBI double to put Defiance up 3-2.

Zeigler, along with some good defense, took control of the game from there. Only four runners got on base after the Bulldogs took the lead, with the Redskins' best opportunity to score coming in the 6th. After two outs, stud junior Johnny Crawford reached base on a walk. An error by Kidston, who was playing first base for the first time this season, put runners on the corners with two outs. But Zeigler threw three straight sliders to strikeout junior catcher Brandon Schreiber to get out of the jam.

The hard-throwing right-hander finished going six innings allowing one hit and three walks, while striking out eight to up his total to 79 in 54 innings pitched.  Zeigler, now 8-1 on the season, featured a heavy fastball in the 87-88 mph range and topped out at 91. Zeigler also showed great command on his slider which came in at 76-78.

Wapak starter Culver was able to keep the Bulldogs in check allowing just four hits in the final six innings after allowing three hits in the 1st inning three weeks ago. Culver struck out seven, while walking just one. Culver's fastball was in the 78-83 mph range, with the curve coming in at 66-69.

Zeigler led Defiance at the plate with a single and double to up his average to .450 while unsigned senior Joe Gentile (.375), the two-hole hitter,  added a double.

Defiance (26-1) faces Toledo Central Catholic in the district semifinals on Thursday the 17th in Archbold at 4:30 p.m. Wapak (19-5) takes on Tiffin Columbian in the district semifinals at Bluffton University at 2:00 p.m.