Linsly bests CCHS

WHEELING — Linsly baseball coach Jay Cartwright really liked what he saw from his squad during Saturday’s 5-3 victory at Holloway Field against Steubenville Catholic Central in an OVAC Class 2A semifinal.

Sure, a win is always nice and the main goal, but it was how the Cadets did it.

“We played seven innings, and we played it hard,” Cartwright said. “At times, we have had tendencies to get up on teams and then just coast. I think these guys knew they couldn’t afford to do that (Saturday). We put the pressure on them late.

“We scratched out a few runs, ran the bases well and got a few key hits. We were able to pull it out, and it is nice to have the lead early, especially with a senior pitcher on the mound.”

That senior pitcher was Jake Auten, who continued his solid season with nine strikeouts, allowing two runs on three hits to earn a victory.

“He is a veteran guy, has been with us forever, and it is nice to have that veteran presence on the mound,” Cartwright said. “When someone goes wrong, veterans don’t get rattled and they keep competing.”

Playing with the lead will help any pitcher, and Linsly was able to strike first early.

In the bottom of the first, a bloop single by Eli Petho with two outs scored Nate Rush. Two more runs came during the next at-bat as an errant throw pulled the Steubenville Catholic first baseman off the bag, allowing the Cadets (9-4) to go on top 3-0.

From there, Auten was nearly unhittable.

During the next three innings, he allowed one hit and three baserunners, one coming because of an error and the other a hit batter.

Steubenville Catholic (5-5) finally got to him in the top of the fifth as Auten uncharacteristically loaded the bases up with three walks.

An RBI single from Dom Argentine and a RBI groundout by starting pitcher Josh Costello put the Crusaders within one at 3-2.

Linsly answered right back in the home half of the inning.

Jules Giovengo led off with a double, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Rush sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

“That was huge, and I have been critical of these guys at times where we tended to ride our pitching too much,” Cartwright said. “We didn’t do that (Saturday). We kept the pressure on and continued to have good at-bats and added on to our lead. That was a key part of the game.”

Any thought that Auten was rattled by the tough inning went away as he struck out the side in the sixth.

Linsly tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth as Kobe Hill added an RBI single.

Anthony LeFever scored Catholic’s final run off an error in the seventh, only to see Linsly respond with a 6-4-3 double play to end it and send the Cadets into Friday’s championship game against Toronto.

“I am really proud of my guys and we hung in there with a real good team and a real good pitcher,” CCHS coach Don Young said. “We had our opportunities but we couldn’t get that clutch hit off their pitcher.

“We had too many called thirds (strikes), and we needed to put the ball in play more. We had some good swings on him, but just too many strikeouts and that is something we have been battling all year. We hit it pretty good when we swing it, but you can’t hit it when you don’t swing it.”

Linsly 5, CCHS 3

Catholic 0-0-0 0-2-0 1 — 3 3 1

Linsly 3-0-0 0-1-1 x — 5 5 2

CATHOLIC: Costello lp (4SO, 2W) and Argentine. Argentine 2S, rbi; Costello rbi

LINSLY: Auten wp (9SO, 5W), Hill (7) (0SO, 1W) and V.Giovengo. J.Giovengo D; Rush rbi; Petho S, rbi; Hill S, rbi.