Heltzel’s game-winner sends Jackets past Eagles, 7-6


PERRYSBURG — Perrysburg senior Max Heltzel swatted a base hit to right field, plating two runs, in the bottom of the seventh to lead the Yellow Jackets past Clay, 7-6, at Jim Leyland Field Friday.

Heltzel says he was just trying to make contact.

“I was looking for a strike. I felt it when I hit the ball and once it got past the second baseman, I knew that we were going to score,” Heltzel said.

Scoring the tying run off Heltzel’s hit was senior Ben Robeson, who led the inning off with a base hit up the middle.

Junior Andrew Hunt, who scored the winning run, followed by hitting what appeared to be a tailor-made double play grounder to second.

However, the Clay shortstop missed the bag on the relay and his throw was too late to get Hunt at first. Both Robeson and Hunt were safe.

Perrysburg junior Avery Hunt successfully laid a sacrifice bunt, sending his brother Andrew and Robeson to second and third, setting up Heltzel’s game-winner.

“We got the big bunt down and we got the call (on Andrew Hunt’s grounder) and got the big base hit there by a kid (Heltzel) who was on the bench to start the game,” Perrysburg coach Dave Hall said.

“I thought it was (going into extra innings),” Hall continued. “I just thought if we get some guys on base something could happen and we did.”

Heltzel also led off the sixth inning by reaching on a base hit to left and scoring the tying run (5-5) on a base hit to right by junior T.J. Takats. That was his first plate appearance of the game.

“Heltzel had two hits and that was big,” Hall said.

Perrysburg stays unbeaten at 5-0, while Clay falls to 2-5 with both teams heading into league play.

Friday’s game saw both teams combine for five errors, including two by Perrysburg outfielders on misplayed fly balls that helped Clay score three runs in the top of the fourth after the Yellow Jackets had taken a 4-0 lead.

The game also saw a combined 23 hits, including 12 by Clay and 11 by Perrysburg, as the game went back-and-forth down the stretch. There were two lead changes in the final two innings.

“It was like neither team wanted to win or lose because they are a good ballclub and they wouldn’t give up. We kept battling back so I’m happy,” Hall said.

Heltzel said he and his teammates remained confident no matter what was happening on the field.

“It feels great and as a team we had a ton of energy the entire game,” Heltzel said. “We never put our heads down and we kept doing our thing on the field. Even though we made a couple errors, we still fought back.

“As a team this year compared to last year, we have really good chemistry and we’ve proven that every game we’ve played,” Heltzel continued.

“No matter how many mistakes we make, we always come back with energy, we always pick each other up. I think that really helped us more t in his game than in any of them.”

For Perrysburg, Takats was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs, Kanyon Gagich went 2-for-4 with a double, and Robeson was 2-for-3.

Also getting base hits for the Jackets were Ryan Thompson, Matt Hubbard and Jack Losee.

Hubbard started on the mound, striking out four, walking two and giving up six hits and three runs, but none were charged against him because of the errors in the fourth inning.

Losee pitched 1.2 innings of middle relief, striking out two, walking one and allowing two hits and two runs.

Will Rettig closed, walking one, allowed four hits and one run through 1.1 innings and got the win.

“Both sophomores (Hubbard and Losee0, I thought, threw well,” Hall said. “We can tighten up the outfield a little bit.

“Will, that is his fifth game pitching. He threw yesterday (9-6 win over Toledo Start), and he threw strikes and they hit him,” Hall continued.

For Clay, Jared Hoersten started, striking out four, walking two, allowing six hits and three earned runs over three innings.

Ethan Stager pitched an inning, striking out one and allowing one hit and no runs, and C.J. Boudreaux pitching an inning, walking two but not allowing any hits or runs.

Jon Marsico closed the final 1.1 innings, allowing the game-winning hit to Heltzel, along with three other hits and two earned runs.

Offensively for Clay, Max Belli went 2-for-3 with a double, triple, and three RBIs and Donovan Coughlin was 2-for-4 with a double.

Kale Wilkins and Spencer Fortier were both 2-for-4 and Christian Mays was 2-for-5 for the Eagles. Jackson Kennedy and Connor Millimen also had base hits.

Clay coach Jim Phillips liked the fight in his players, but not the mistakes that led to the loss, including two base runners who were picked off on the basepaths.

“Happy to see the resiliency for sure. The kids played hard and didn’t give up. We were down early, 4-0, and battled back to get the lead,” Phillips said.

“We had an opportunity at the end, which you want, but we just have to make more plays. You can’t leave it in the umpire’s hands. We had two guys picked off at second base and you can’t have that happen.

“In those situations, both of those guys would have ended up scoring and the game is not in that one-run situation.

“We must make more plays and get better. We head into the league (Three Rivers Athletic Conference) on Monday, and we’ll be ready to go,” Phillips continued.

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