Lake baseball clinches share of NBC title


By Nicholas Huenefeld

Special to the Sentinel-Tribune

MILLBURY — Ryan Wagner delivered a dominant performance on the mound, and the Lake baseball team came through in key moments offensively to produce a 10-3 road win over Otsego on Tuesday.

“We got off the bus ready to go, and we really just left no doubt in all aspects of the game,” Lake head coach Casey Witt said. “I thought our approach was terrific, and our execution was terrific. It was just really well-done all around.”

With the victory, which was resumed with Lake ahead 3-2 and one out in the top of the third after being suspended due to weather on April 29, the Flyers secured at least a share of the Northern Buckeye Conference championship.

“It feels amazing,” the senior righty Wagner said of his team’s title. “We haven’t had a title since my freshman year. This feels really good.”

Lake (21-3, 11-2) can clinch the title outright at home with a win over Eastwood (19-3, 9-3) on Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. in the completion of their suspended game from April 18. The Eagles also face Maumee on May 20 in their regular season finale

Lake built a one-run lead on April 29 largely behind a trio of errors by Otsego, and that trend continued for the Knights on Tuesday as the Flyers put two of the first three batters on base due to misplays.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Lake’s Gavin Kohlhofer made them pay with a deep infield single up the middle for a three-run lead.

“We kind of kicked the ball around a little bit, and Lake is too good of a team to do that against,” Otsego head coach Chase Welker said. “They took advantage of it. They’re a well-coached team, and they play hard every game. They’re tough to beat.”

Wagner, who started the game originally, continued on the mound for Lake. He was greeted with a single, a walk and then an RBI single from Bodde Simon.

The Knights then had a chance to tie the game with runners on second and third with two outs, but Wagner induced a pop out to short.

“I didn’t really think much in (that situation),” Wagner said. “I’m really self-aware of our team. We can field the ball. I trust them behind me. I just go for the strike zone and know that they’ll field the ball if it gets hit.”

The Flyers offense continued to make life tough for Otsego in the fourth as Caleb Tobias delivered another key two-out RBI hit as his infield single to second scored a pair for a 7-3 lead.

“We battled in the box, used the whole field and ran the bases really, really aggressively,” Witt said. “It allowed us to kind of get some breathing room.”

An error in the fifth led to another run with two outs as Jack Sobczak delivered an RBI single to right. The Flyers added insurance runs via a Drew Tajblik sacrifice fly in the sixth and a bases loaded walk in the seventh.

Meanwhile, Wagner found his groove after Otsego’s rally in the third, allowing just a two-out single in the seventh. He retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced, including 14 straight after Simon’s RBI hit. He even retired the side on four pitches in the fifth.

“I just trusted the team behind me and threw strikes,” Wagner said. “I was feeling really good out there. We played a really good game.”

Lake has a big meeting with Eastwood on Wednesday, but for now the Flyers can celebrate their first league title since 2021.

“I’m really proud of our guys and our coaches,” Witt said. “I love sharing a dugout with these guys, and to be able to add a number to the banner is really special.”

Otsego (15-10, 7-7 NBC) has completed its regular season. They’ll focus on tournament play, beginning with a home game against Paulding on Wednesday.

“We just have to flush this one and move on to the next one,” Welker said. “We have to be ready to play Wednesday.”

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