Big Red rolls to win over Crusaders

STEUBENVILLE – Plate patience was indeed a virtue for Big Red in Thursday’s 11-2 victory over Catholic Central at Vaccaro Field.

Fred Heatherington’s club drew nine walks (seven resulted in runs) as it improved to 13-6 and completed the season sweep of the Crusaders to claim the city championship.

Central sophomore Jack Reed held Big Red in check through the first three innings, retiring seven in a row at one point and allowing just one hit. Unfortunately, he faltered some in the fourth and the Red took full advantage.

John Linn and winning pitcher Matt Petrella worked Reed for free passes to start the frame. Justin Corsi, Evan Westlake, Pat Pizzoferrato and Kai McClurg then all delivered run scoring singles, giving Big Red a 4-0 advantage.

Don Young’s squad survived the initial run barrage and cut the lead in half, scoring single tallies in the fourth and fifth. Aleks Porreca’s lead-off double (his line drive landed on the line in left) led to the first tally. He moved to third on Kyle Laukert’s ground out and touched home thanks to Joe DeFallo’s sacrifice fly.

Petrella surrendered a two-out walk to Tony Barber in the fifth. Barber later scored when Brenton Colabella reached on a Big Red fielding miscue.

Big Red put the game out of reach with a seven-run explosion in the sixth. McClurg, Cody Saltsman and Mason Heatherington walked to juice the sacks with no outs. Bryan Pierro and Linn got RBIs with the fourth and fifth free passes of the frame.

Petrella’s single (he had three hits in four trips) and Corsi’s fly to center produced two more tallies. Westlake then drilled a two-run double to left making it 10-2 Big Red. The 11th run crossed the plate on Pizzoferrato’s base knock.

“Today was patient day,” Fred Heatherington said. “It was a patient game. We started off slow and the game was moving slow. We finally got some runners on base and did some damage.

“We did what the pitchers allowed us to do. They were taking their time and working slow. So we had to be ready when they were.”

Petrella went the distance on the hill, allowing just three hits. He whiffed five Central batters and issues seven walks. He escaped jams in the first and second innings (both times the Crusaders stranded a couple of base runners). In addition, Petrella’s defense came to his aid in the fifth turning a critical 4 (Linn)-6 (Pierro)-3 (Corsi) twin killing.

“He struggled a little bit at times but he hadn’t been out there in a while,” Heatherington said of Petrella. “He had some kinks to work out. But he battled and kept us in the game.”

Young praised Reed for also battling and keeping Big Red’s bats quiet early. The Central hurler did rebound after giving up four in the fourth, holding Big Red scoreless in the fifth.

“He got a little tired in the sixth but give him credit for battling,” Young stated. “We just can’t walk nine guys against a good team and expect to do anything.

“We were right where we wanted to be at 4-2. It’s been a long time since we played with Big Red. We were sitting there at 4-2 but then we started walking too many guys.”

M. Barber and Colabella also saw duty on the bump for Central, now 12-5.

As far stranding runners early, Young indicated that’s an area where his team needs to show improvement.

“We’ve done that all year long,” he added. “We’re getting better at scoring runs but we’re still leaving way too many runs out there. We’ve got get better at scoring runs or we are not going to go far in the tournament.”

Like Petrella, Westlake also had three hits for Big Red, which finished with 13. He also collected three RBI. Pizzoferrato added two singles.

Big Red is back in action today, traveling to Brooke for a makeup game with the Bruins. Heatherington’s squad will battle Harrison Central Saturday for the OVAC 4A title. The first pitch is set for 11 a.m. at Vacarro Field.

“We just want to play,” the Big Red coach stated.

“Baseball is a game you have to play. We’ve got to take advantage of this great weather.”

Central will go for the conference 2A crown Saturday when it tests Shadyside. That game is scheduled for 4 p.m., also at Vacarro.

“They have a real good team,” Young said of the Tigers. “They have a solid left-handed pitcher and I imagine we’ll see him. It should be a battle.”

Big Red 11, Central 2

Big Red 000 407 0 – 11 13 1

Central 000 110 0 – 2 3 0

Central (12-5): Reed (LP, 6BB, 2K) M. Barber (6, 3BB, 0K) Colabella (6, 0BB, 0K) and Laukert. Porreca D; DeFallo RBI; Laukert S; M. Barber S.

Big Red (13-6): Petrella (WP, 7BB, 5K) and McClurg. Westlake 2S, D, 3RBI; Petrella 3S, RBI; Pizzoferrato 2S, 2RBI; Pierro S, RBI; Linn S, RBI; Corsi S, 2 RBI; DeFrances S; McClurg S, RBI.