HAMLER — Leipzig right-hander Mason Brandt was on cruise control for the first four innings.
But in the final three frames, Brandt had to keep performing magic tricks to avoid serious damage.
Leipzig held off a late attack from Miller City to record a 5-4 win over the Wildcats and win Friday’s Division IV District baseball championship game at Patrick Henry’s Garrold Parrott Field.
Leipzig (17-7) advance to the regional semifinals against the winner of tonight’s match Lima Central Catholic/Lincolnview on Thursday at 5pm at Patrick Henry’s.
It is Leipzig’s second regional appearance in a row.
“It feels really good when you can beat two quality teams (Patrick Henry and Miller City in the district) and get into the Regionals,” said Darren Henry, Leipzig coach. “That is fun.”
Miller City finished its season 16-10.
“They (Leipsic) did a good job of going through and we didn’t give up,” said Miller City coach Dusty Pester. “We could go down but we’re going to go down swinging and we’re going to go down fighting and they took that to heart so I’m proud of them.
“All credit goes to Leipzig. They came ready to go. You deserved to win. They played well.”
Both teams had to go with their No. 2 pitchers as both teams’ aces took their mandatory three-day break after throwing more than 75 pitches on Tuesday.
Leipzig passed the ball to Brandt. He went all seven innings and gave up four runs, only one of which was earned on five hits. He struck seven and walked two.
Brandt threw 87 pitches, 53 for strikes.
“Mason was good. He was really good,” said Henry. “They are a good batting team. We didn’t want to meet her. I knew it was going to be interesting.”
Brandt had a no-hitter in the first four innings and did not allow a base runner.
“I felt good,” said Brandt. “You try not to think about it (the no-hitter) even though it’s in the back of your mind. The curveball worked well.”
The Vikings gave Brandt an early five-run lead with two in the first and three in the third.
Miller City’s Caleb Warnimont led the fifth with a single down the middle to break Brandt’s no-hitter.
Brendan Barlage reached the Leipzig third baseman after a mistake.
Joe Deitering’s RBI double to the right fence put the Wildcats 5-1.
Dillon Peck’s single with two runs down the left made it 5-3, Leipzig, with no outs.
Brandt then got the next hitter to return him a bunt on the mound. Brandt intercepted the Bunt attempt and fired it for first to double up on Peck.
“That was a huge momentum changer for us,” said Brandt.
Ethan Barlage showed up and Brandt was out of the inning.
Brandt knocked out the first two batters to start the sixth. But Caleb Niese and Warnimont singled out Brendan Barlage went to load the bases.
Brandt then got Deitering to get out to get out of the traffic jam.
“He (Brandt) made some big pitches when he had to,” Henry said. “He hit spots and changed speeds.”
In the seventh, Brandt knocked out Miller City’s first hitter, but CJ Lehman reached from a miss.
Ethan Barlage left and both runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch.
Evan Niese’s groundout for second place put Miller City at 5-4.
Brandt then got Austin Silence to pop too short to finish it.
“It was a low fastball,” Brandt said of his final throw of the game. “I tried to keep it low and distant and I hit my point.”
Leipzig came out with two runs in the first shot.
Vikings leadoff hitter Quin Schroeder opened the first with a parachute single to the left.
Blake Liffick followed with a line drive RBI triple into the right corner of the field. Leipzig took a 1-0 lead.
Brandt’s RBI groundout into second place gave the Vikings a 2-0 lead.
In the third game, Leipzig marked three ruins to make it 5-0.
Ethan Zeisloft’s RBI single to the left pushed the Vikings’ lead to 3-0.
Luke Spoors’ RBI single to center made it 4-0.
Tommy Offenbacher added a sacrificial fly down the middle and in the third it was 5-0 at Leipzig.
For Miller City, his starter, Warnimont, went 2 1/3 innings and gave up five runs, three earned, in five hits. He hit three and walked four.
At the plate, Warnimont went 2 for 2. Peck had two RBI.
For Leipzig, Liffick went 2 for 4 with a triple and an RBI.
Brandt will continue his basketball career at the University of Findlay. He said those pressure moments in basketball helped him on Friday.
“Playing in front of college coaches, there’s a lot of pressure and big games, there’s pressure,” Brandt said. “I think it helped a lot to be in that situation before. I tried to stay calm and control my breathing.”
Leipzig’s Blake Liffick safely reaches third third base ahead of Miller City’s Brendan Barlage during Friday’s Division IV District Finals at Patrick Henry.
Miller City’s Brendan Barlage bats at Patrick Henry during Friday’s Division IV District Finals against Miller City.
Leipzig’s Mason Brandt uses an infield fly at Patrick Henry in Friday’s Division IV District Finals against Miller City.
Miller City’s Caleb Warnimont catches an infield fly at Patrick Henry in Friday’s Division IV District Finals against Leipzig.
Miller City’s Caleb Niese manages to catch a throw and get his foot on the pocket ahead of Leipsic’s Quin Schroeder during Friday’s Division IV District Finals at Patrick Henry.
Leipzig’s Quin Schroeder lashes out at Patrick Henry in Friday’s Division IV district finals against Miller City.
Reach the Lima News Sports Department at 567-242-0451.