Big Red reaches 10th-straight OVAC final

MAKING PLAYS — Big Red’s Carlo Biasi makes a play on a ground ball during Saturday’s OVAC Class 5A semifinal against Wheeling Park at the I-470 Complex in Wheeling. (Photo by Cody Tomer)

WHEELING — Coach Fred Heatherington and his Big Red baseball team were not worried about the magnitude of playing in an OVAC tournament game or about avenging an earlier season loss against Wheeling Park. They just wanted to play their game.

His players made sure they did.

Steubenville came out aggressive, smacking 14 hits in route to a convincing 15-2 victory over Wheeling Park in an OVAC 5A semifinal that was moved to the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex on Saturday.

Big Red advances to Saturdayás OVAC 5A final at 11 a.m.ä where they have won four of the last five titles ä to play the winner of Mondayás game between Morgantown and Warren Local.

âWhat matters to us is how we play,ã Heatherington said. âIt doesnát matter who we play and it doesnát matter where we play. All that matters is how we play.

âWe didnát play that last game (against Park) but (Saturday) we played. Thatás what matters and thatás all we talk about.ã

Wheeling Park was done in by six errors and a pair of base-running blunders at third and home with two outs to end scoring threats.

âYouáre never going to win a ballgame with that many errors,ã Park coach Steve Myers said. â(The base-running mistakes) killed some momentum for sure. We were not very fundamentally sound (Saturday).

âThis was definitely not our best effort but weáll regroup and go at it on Monday.ã

Niko Kausky was dominant for Steubenville. The left-hander fanned three and walked three but mixed up his pitches brilliantly.

âHe did a good job of keeping us off balance,ã Myers said. âHe got in front of us a couple of times and he was able to pitch his game.ã

After allowing three hits in the first inning, Kausky only surrendered three hits over the remaining five innings.

âHe had command of two good pitches,ã Heatherington said. âI think he only threw 70 pitches for the game. If he can command those two pitches and be around the plate, then he is very effective and he was (Saturday).ã

Big Red needed just one hit in the first inning to plate two runs. Quinn McCoy drove in a run with a single to center and a throwing error on the play allowed a second run to come home.

Park quickly answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame as senior second baseman Jacob Shia led off with a double to deep right field and scored on a sacrifice fly from Trevor Thomas.

Back-to-back doubles by Bryce Bauer and James Salvatori knotted the game at 2-2.

Steubenville took back the lead with three straight singles to start the second, followed by a RBI single off the bat of Dom Defrances for a 3-2 edge.

Kausky, then drove in a run on a fielderás choice and an error allowed another run to trot home. Clayton Criss plated the fourth run of the second with a RBI hit to make it a 6-2 cushion.

After a scoreless third, Steubenville plated one in the fourth, three in the fifth and brought the 10-run rule into effect in the sixth with a five-run burst.

McCoy finished with three hits and three RBI, Defrances delivered two hits and three RBI, Kausky plated four and singled and Luke Zorne and Criss each turned in two hits and a RBI for Big Red.

âIf our kids come out with energy, then we play,ã Heatherington said. âWe came out with energy (Saturday) and if we can do that we will continue to be successful.

âEnergy brings a lot of things. It brings your pitcher throwing strikes. It brings your defense making plays. It brings your hitters attacking the ball and being aggressive on the basepaths.ã

Ryan Hummel took the loss for Park but fell victim to four errors in the first two innings from his defense.

Shia paced the Patriots with a double and two singles, while Bauer doubled and singled.

OVAC 5A Semifinal

(at I-470 Complex)

Steubenville 15, Wheeling Park 2

Steubenville 2-4-0 1-3-5 — 15-14-0

Wheeling Park 2-0-0 0-0-0 — 2-6-6

STEUBENVILLE: Kausky wp (3K, 3BB) and Criss. Defrances 2S, 3rbi; Kausky S, 4rbi; Criss 2S, rbi; McCoy 3S, 3rbi; Duggan 2S; Zorne 2S, rbi.

WHEELING PARK: Hummel lp (0K, 0BB), Gongola (2) (1K, 4BB), Archer (5) (1K, 4BB), Cover (6) (0K, 1BB) and Bauer. Shia 2S, D; Thomas rbi; Bauer D, S; Salvatori D, rbi.