JACKSON — ‘Third time is a charm’ was not the case for the Saxony Lutheran Crusaders as they bowed out of the State playoffs to the Valle Warriors by a score of 11-0 in six innings. Valle, which had defeated the Crusaders in their district championship games the past two years had the third-time charm, instead.
It came in the presence of pitcher Mike Greminger. Greminger’s numbers were staggering. He threw 64 pitches, 43 for strikes, faced the minimum of 18 batters in six innings, striking out nine, to pitch a no-hitter for the Class 2 Sectional win. Greminger struck out the side in the first inning and six of the Crusaders the first time through the starting line-up.
“He’s been that way for us all season,” said Valle coach Judd Naeger of his pitcher after the game. “ He’s thrown well all year, and has only allowed two hits in his last 16 innings on the mound.”
Only Spencer Sander had the privilege of setting his feet safely on first base for the Crusaders after reaching on an eight-pitch walk in the fourth inning. He was erased on a ground ball to third baseman Jason Blum that started a double play.
Saxony Lutheran (22-4) looked to have broken up the no-hitter in the fifth inning when Seth Stevens drove a hard-hit grounder between first and second, but an alert Nolan Carrow in right field threw Stevens out at first to preserve the no-no.
Valle (23-5) got on the board in the first inning. Lead-off hitter Cole Bieser was brushed by the second pitch of the game from Garrett Fritsche. Bieser stole second and was able to score on a rushed throw to first base by the shortstop that went all the way to the side fence in trying to turn a double play.
Even though it was the only run Valle and Greminger needed, they would log quite a few more. The Warriors had 13 hits in the game, but they only had one through the first three innings.
It wasn’t until the top of the fourth, that Valle’s hitters were able to truly connect with the baseball. With a full count and one out, Aaron Basler hit a line drive down the line into left field for a double, and two batters later Greminger picked up his first of three RBI with a blast to the fence in left to drive in Basler.
In the fifth inning, Valle opened up the floodgates and the wheels did not fall off the wagon for the Crusaders, instead, the wagon fell off the wheels.
Designated hitter Christian Moulton reached on a botched grounder by the third baseman, and Bieser singled him home from second after a sacrifice by Carrow. A second single by Luke Uding brought out the Crusaders’ coach Paul Sander for a talk with his pitcher.
The very next pitch hit the backstop to advance both runners, and anything that could go wrong for Saxony Lutheran — went wrong.
The Warriors did their part with a single by Basler to drive Uding home and Fritsche from the mound. An overthrow at home from the outfield hit nothing but backstop allowing both runners to advance an extra base.
Blum’s double scored one run and Greminger drove in two with a single. The rally was only stopped by catcher Bret Steffens throwing out his second runner in the game trying to steal second base.
Valle had four singles in the top of the sixth inning and scored three more runs without an RBI. All three runs scored on Saxony Lutheran’s fielding and throwing errors in the inning. A relay throw from center fielder Chad Bachmann to relief pitcher Chris Roth to Steffens at home stopped the bleeding.
Valle will play Senath-Hornersville on Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the Class 2 Quarterfinals.
Valle 100 153 – 11 13 0
Saxony Lutheran 000 000 – 0 0 7
WP- Greminger 6i 0r 0h 9k 1bb, LP- Fritsche 4 1/3i 7r 6h 3k 1bb 1hb, Roth 1 2/3i 4r 7h 0k 1bb.
Valle – Uding 3-4, Basler 3-4, Greminger 3-4, Blum 2-3, Bieser 1-3, Carrow 1-3. 2b- Basler, Greminger, Blum.