DEFIANCE — The first game back from a trip to Alaska didn’t start out well for Napoleon Post #300, but the River Bandits rallied back for a 12-11 victory over Pemberville Legion Wednesday at Defiance College.
After spotting Pemberville nine runs in the first inning, Napoleon chipped away at the lead until tying the game with five runs in the seventh inning.
Jeron Williams (Archbold) started the rally with a one-out triple and Dakota Benner (Montpelier) followed with a single to bring Williams in to score. Nathan Vold (Ayersville) doubled home Benner and Landon Willeman’s single scored Vold to make the score 11-9.
After a deep fly to center for the second out, the inning was kept alive by a throwing error by Pemberville. Brandon Shafer (Defiance) made the mistake costly with a game-tying two-run double.
“When we started hitting the ball in the third or fourth inning we knew it wasn’t over,” said Willeman. “After that we really started to swing it.”
Willeman began the game-winning rally in the ninth inning with a two-out single. It was his sixth hit of the game, finishing 6-for-6 with two RBI from the lead-off spot in the order.
A double by Axel Shanks (Patrick Henry) forced Pemberville to intentionally walk Hunter Bostater (Fairview) to load the bases for Shafer, who laced the ball right on the chalk line in leftfield for to bring home Willeman with the winning run.
Shafer finished the game 5-of-6 with four RBIs.
“I don’t think I ever had someone with six hits in a game before,” said Napoleon coach Chad Donsbach. “My lead-off hitter (Willeman) and my clean-up hitter (Shafer) were combined 11-of-12 today ... that is something special.”
“I never had six hits in a game before,” said Willeman. “In my head I didn’t think it was even possible.”
Napoleon, as a team, had 21 hits in the game. Bostater was 3-for-4, while Shanks, Williams, Benner and Vold each had two hits. Williams, Benner and Vold — the bottom three batters in the Bandits’ order — were a combined 6-of-14 at the plate with four RBI and six runs scored.
“I think this was the most complete game we have played all season, especially when it comes to our approach at the plate, pitching and defense,” said Donsbach. “In terms of a team game, this was our best effort.”
Pemberville scored nine runs in the first inning — five with two outs — and two more runs — both with two outs — in the third inning. After that the Napoleon bullpen of Austin Bostater (Fairview), Bryer Bentley (Montpelier) and Daryke Bass (Edon) blanked Pemberville to keep the Bandits in the game.
Austin Bostater allowed two runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings, while Bentley allowed two hits in three shutout innings and Bass struck out two and got an infield fly in the ninth inning to get the win.
“I think it became a situation where everyone that came in wanted to do better than the guy before him,” said Donsbach. “They just wanted to outdo the guy in front of them.”
Napoleon is now 28-9 on the season and begins a trip to Minnesota this weekend.