BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — Maumee baseball defeated visiting Whitmer, 4-3, last Wednesday thanks to a strong start, taking a 3-1 lead after two innings.
For the second straight day, the Panthers had to deal with a strong wind blowing out to center and right field, but they managed to get their first win of the young season.
Maumee scored in the first inning on a triple by senior Caleb Loboschefski, a single by senior Logan Phillips and another single by Loboschefski in the second.
In the first, junior Dylan Riley reached on an error and scored on Loboschef-ski’s triple to left field. Loboschefski scored when Phillips got on base thanks to a Whitmer error.
In the second, Maumee junior Angelo Shepler reached on an infield base hit. Junior Ryker Oakman, who pinch ran for Shepler, advanced on a base hit bunt by Michalak and scored on a single to left by Loboschefski.
Riley scored the winning run in the fifth, leading off by reaching base on a walk. He advanced when Loboschefski belted a double that reached the center field fence and scored on a wild pitch.
Loboschefski went 3-for-3 with two extra-base hits and two RBI in his breakout game at the plate this season.
It was a vast difference from when he went 0-for-2, striking out twice and walking twice in a loss to Eastwood a day earlier.
“He’s been scuffling,” said Maumee coach Brian Nagy. “He’s been trying to put the weight of the team (on his shoulders) and he’s tried to hit home runs and now he’s just trying to stay inside himself and do what he does the best.
“He is an exceptional baseball player in all facets and when he just relaxes and lets the game come to him, he is very good.”
Junior Eli Seiler thanked Loboschefski for his hitting, which in turn helped him get the win.
“He had a great day,” Seiler said. “He started off slow, but he’s swinging good now. It’s great to see him come out here and start swinging the bat.”
Seiler allowed four hits and three runs over six innings while striking out six and walking one.
He had to recover from the first inning when his first two pitches were belted to deep center field.
On the first pitch of the game, Whitmer junior Grady Mee hit a double over the centerfielder’s head.
On the second pitch, junior Nate Ganzel hit another deep ball, but Maumee junior centerfielder Jayden Michalak ran the ball down to make the catch for the first out of the game.
“I was definitely a little worried,” Seiler said. “I trust my teammates. I trust every single one of them. We’ll get the job done.”
After that, Seiler got into a groove, not allowing another run until the sixth inning. Seiler and Nagy credited the defense for a big part of that.
“I was impressed with Whitmer’s approach early,” Nagy said. “They came out and I think we threw nine pitches in the first inning, and every strike we threw, they hit.
“Luckily, we had a couple guys make some plays and get us out of the inning. Whether it is a 320-foot out or 90-foot out, they still count.
“He (Seiler) stayed in the strike zone after that. He got his breaking ball in, which was a huge advantage and it kept them off balance a little bit.
“That is a really good hitting team and for him to keep them under control for most of six innings, that was a very good effort.”
Seiler said the first start of his varsity career “felt good.”
“You just have to get in the groove,” he said.
Maumee junior Jayden Michalak closed the game in the seventh, recording the final three outs for the save. It was not easy, however.
Whitmer sophomore Jake Cole singled to center and Mee singled to left to open the frame, but they were both caught on the basepaths when Genzel swung and reached on a third strike during an unusual double play.
Most of the Maumee infield, including Lobo-schefski behind the plate, Shepler at second base, Riley at shortstop and Phillips at third were involved.
“That starts with Caleb (Loboschefski) blocking that pitch in the dirt and having the presence of mind not to throw it to first,” Nagy said.
“Then, after that, the young men just got caught getting a little greedy, I think, and Phillips gave up the ball quickly to the middles (infielders), and after that it was an out. It looks good in the scorebook, but I’d rather have it not be so close.”
A Whitmer run would have tied the game and possibly sent it into extra innings, but Michalak then got senior Adam Sniegowski to strike out and close the Maumee victory for Seiler.
“Like I said, you have got to trust your teammates and they made a really great play,” Seiler said. “We are a really solid fundamental team.”
Ganzel took the loss, pitching 4.1 innings and allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out five.
Mee led Whitmer, going 2-for-4 at the plate. He led off the game with a double to center field and scored when senior Cole Kimura reached on an error.
In the sixth, Whitmer added two more runs as Kimura led off with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit by senior John Kregulka.
Kregulka stole second and scored Whitmer’s fourth run when senior Elijah Wellman hit into a fielder’s choice.
Maumee was back in action on Tuesday at Lake and hosted Swanton on Wednesday before a road game at Bryan at noon on Saturday.