Napoleon‘s Zach Willeman is tagged out at home by Anthony Wayne catcher D.J. Komisarek. The Generals improved to 16-8 overall, 9-3 in the NLL. THE BLADE/ISAAC HALE
NAPOLEON — Facing the top pitcher in the Northern Lakes League, the Anthony Wayne Generals made some adjustments to their approach at the plate and the moves paid off.
Anthony Wayne scored six runs off of Napoleon ace Zach Willeman and went on to double up the Wildcats 10-5. The Generals (16-8, 9-3 NLL) took sole possession of first place in the league baseball race over idle Perrysburg (8-3).
GALLERY: Generals top Wildcats
With at least five major league scouts watching Willeman with radar guns, AW took advantage of two errors to strike for four runs in the fourth inning. The Generals added three more in the sixth, including two off of Willeman.
Willeman, who will pitch at Kent State, featured a good fastball and an outstanding breaking ball. He came into the game leading the NLL in strikeouts and fanned nine in 5 1/3 innings. Three of the six runs he gave up were unearned.
AW coach Mark Nell said he had his players worked on widening their stances and shortening up their strides.
“We know the kid's a great pitcher. He is one of the best in the area,” Nell said. “I thought our kids had a pretty good approach overall. We executed it and we put the ball in play.”
The Generals also took advantage of two errors in the fourth. Willeman was cruising along and recorded the first two outs.
But he committed an error on a grounder and two batters later the Generals tied it at 1 on Alex Meyers' RBI single. Following another Napoleon miscue that led to another run, freshman Alex Vogel drove in two more with a single up the middle.
“They gave us some opportunities and we capitalized on it,” Nell said.
But the Wildcats tied it up in the bottom of the fourth on Brock Leatherman's sac fly and Bryant Schlade's two-run home run that tucked just inside the foul pole in left field.
Napoleon then gave Willeman a 5-4 lead on Layne Schnitz-Paxton's sacrifice fly.
Anthony Wayne tied it up on D.J. Komisarek's RBI single that drove Willeman out of the game.
“They had a nice approach,” Napoleon coach Mark Stacey said. “They hit the ball today. They shortened their swing and went to the opposite field. They had some nice swings.”
Evan Brown drove in another run to give the Generals a 6-5 lead and after another error Brown scored on a passed ball.
“They take advantage of every single mistake a team makes. That is their MO,” Stacey said. “That's what they always do.”
AW added three insurance runs in the seventh on doubles by Josh Schwerer and Meyers. Generals starter Aaron Stark went four innings and gave up four runs before reliever Mason Zimmerman finished it to get the win.
Schlade went 3-for-3 for Napoleon (15-9, 6-5 NLL), which won a Division II sectional game 5-2 Friday over Rogers.
Stacey said he took into consideration the team's tournament games when he pulled Willeman. Napoleon plays Bryan in a district semifinal hursday.
Willeman threw 103 pitches, including 29 in the fourth.
The Generals were coming off a huge 3-2 win in nine innings over Perrysburg in a Division I sectional final Saturday. Anthony Wayne split with the Yellow Jackets in the regular season.
The Generals lost four games in one week to drop to 8-8 and have since won eight in a row.
“It's been a nice stretch for us,” Nell said. “This league is a battle every game.”
The Generals play Napoleon and Maumee in their final two league games.
“In this league it isn't over until it's over,” Nell said.