Zanesville’s best not enough against Big Red in Div. II district contest

HITTING — Steubenville’s Dom DeFrances hits a single against Zanesville in a Div. II district semifinal Tuesday at Harrison Central. (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

CADIZ — Steubenville pitcher Mason Rubish was in quite the jam in the top of the seventh inning after coming on to try and close out the win. Zanesville was threatening with the bases loaded, no one out and the heart of the Blue Devils lineup due.

Rubish, however, got the next three out in order to shut the door and help Big Red come away with a 4-2 win Tuesday at Harrison Central’s Robert Mazeroski Field to advance to the Division II, East 2 District final today.

“Mason came in and did a great job to get out of that,” Steubenville coach Fred Heatherington said.

Calvin Bickerstaff, who gave up two runs on eight hits while going six innings to earn the win, left with two on without recording an out in the seventh. Zanesville’s Chase Lundell, the first batter Rubish faced, reached on the lone error of the game to load the bases.

“Calvin wasn’t sharp, but he hung in there and that was the key,” Heatherington said. “He didn’t have his best stuff, but he had good enough stuff to keep us in the game and that is all we could ask.”

Rubish struck out Brady Rutledge, got Adam Mamaw to line out and Donavan Stewart to ground out to end the game.

“It’s disappointing, especially with the heart of our lineup coming up,” Zanesville coach David Balo said. “They’re a good team and are going to come right at you and make plays. We needed to come up with a key hit, and we didn’t get it.

“I’ve got nothing but respect for Fred Heatherington. He is one of the best coaches in the state. We knew what we were up against. I thought we played maybe our best game of the season, and we left it all out there.”

Ryan Neely drove in three runs, Dom DeFrances went 3-for-3, and Alec Taylor had an RBI triple for Big Red (16-6). Taylor’s triple nearly went out of the park, hitting the top of the fence in right center in the top of the fifth, scoring Gino Pierro — who led off the inning with a single — to break a 2-2 tie. Neely stepped up to the plate and drove in Taylor with a single but was thrown out at second base trying for his second double.

“That was a big hit,” Heatherington said of Taylor’s triple. “We needed a run.”

That second run driven in by Neely, according to Heatherington, was a key run.

“We needed to get more than a one-run lead, and we were able to get a two-run lead,” he said. “It was big. (Neely) got a big two-strike hit to get us that two-run lead. That afforded us to be able to hit a cut-off man instead of throwing guys out at the plate.”

Neely’s first two RBIs came in the first inning, launching a ball to the fence to drive in Taylor and Johnny Agresta to give Big Red a 2-1 lead after the Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead in the top half on an RBI groundout by Rutledge.

Zanesville tied the game in the top of the second with an RBI single from Brandon Pritchard, who went 4-for-4, and it stayed that way until Taylor’s knock in the fifth.

Big Red faces Harrison Central, 6-0 winners over St. Clairsville on Tuesday, today at Cambridge for the district crown. The teams split a pair of games during the regular season, with each winning on their home fields.

Steubenville 4, Zanesville 2

Zanesville 1-1-0 0-0-0 0 — 2 8 0

Steubenville 2-0-0 0-2-0 x — 4 11 1

ZANESVILLE (14-14): Gibbons (LP, 5 2/3IP, 4R (4ER), 11H, 5K, 2BB), Pritchard (1/3IP, 0R, 0H, 1K, 0BB) and Mumaw.

STEUBENVILLE (16-6): Bickerstaff (WP, 6IP, 2R (2ER), 8H, 1K, 5BB), Rubish (SV, 1IP, 0R, 0H, 1K, 0BB) and Criss.

TWO OR MORE HITS: Zanesville (Pritchard 4); Steuebenville (Taylor 2, Neely 2, DeFrances 3). DOUBLES: Zanesville: None. Steubenville: 1 (Neely). TRIPLES: Zanesville: None. Steubenville: 1 (Taylor). HOME RUNS: None. RBIs: Zanesville (Rutledge, Pritchard); Steubenville (Neely 3, Taylor).