Big Red, Sutton shut down Red Devils

TAGGING OUT — Steubenville third baseman Ethan Duggan tags out St. Clairsville’s Kyle Storer on Thursday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

STEUBENVILLE — Sophomore Caesen Sutton may not be in the mix to pitch when the Division II district tournament begins on Monday, but the Steubenville baseball squad and head coach Fred Heatherington possibly got a small glimpse of the future.

The future looks very bright if Sutton pitches the way he did against St. Clairsville on Thursday.

Sutton only allowed three hits, while walking one and striking out four in a complete-game effort during Big Red’s 14-0, five-inning victory.

“He threw strikes, and that’s what you have to do in a game like this,” Heatherington said. “You can’t walk guys when you’re up 11-0. If you continue to throw strikes and let your defense play behind you, the game will continue.”

Thursday was not Sutton’s first time on the bump this season, and he also serves as the backup catcher to Clayton Criss. He has not seen as much playing time as his teammates, so the Red Devils (15-10) were thrown off.

“We didn’t have a report on him, but that’s no excuse,” St. Clairsville coach Tom Sliva said. “We were flat, no doubt. Why were we flat? I have no idea.”

Big Red (20-6) gave Sutton plenty of support on offense, including a seven-run outburst in the bottom of the first inning.

Scotty Mitchell and Dom DeFrances led off with singles, before Niko Kausky settled for an RBI double after nearly clearing the fence in right field. Criss delivered with a two-run double, McCoy recorded an RBI double and Calvin Bickerstaff drove a run in on a single. Big Red led 5-0 before recording its first out.

With two away, Mitchell came back to the plate and ripped an RBI single. After the throw went to home plate and then to second with Mitchell taking the bag, Ethan Duggan scored to extend the advantage to 7-0.

“We had a great batting practice and hit a lot good ground balls before the game,” Heatherington said. “I just think our kids were ready to play from the get-go. We jumped on them early, and that’s what we needed to do to beat a team like that.”

Grabbing an early advantage, sticking to it and still playing 0with energy throughout are a few of the minor goals accomplished Thursday. Big Red has squandered big leads this season, and they resulted in defeats for the most part.

“Hopefully, we learned our lesson on that earlier this year by giving up leads,” Heatherington said.

“But, we just have to keep working to get better and get ready for the tournament.”

Four more runs in the second and three in the third ultimately put the game to bed for Steubenville.

McCoy led the offense with two doubles, a triple and three RBIs. Mitchell singled four times, while Duggan tallied a single, two doubles and two RBIs. Criss singled, doubled, drew the only walk and brought home a pair. Bickerstaff added two singles and two RBIs. All in all, eight of Big Red’s 18 hits went for extra bases, including seven doubles.

For the Red Devils, Kyle Storer doubled but took the loss on the mound, lasting just 1 2/3 innings. Tyler Tonkovich singled, reached on the game’s lone error and stole a base. Peyton Drake also singled.

“I think that whatever we did pregame to prepare, we need to think about it,” Sliva said. “We want them to remember what happened and what they didn’t do so that we don’t repeat it because we weren’t prepared. They stroked it, and we left a lot of balls up. I did tell them that it’s only one game.”

CRISS CROSS

Criss, Big Red’s starting catcher and cleanup hitter, continued his tear as of late by reaching base three times. Being one of the team leaders and a two-year starter, he’s had numerous multi-hit contests since fouling a pitch off his eye during the club’s OVAC Class 5A championship game. He was not diagnosed with a concussion but sat out for a week before returning. Since the incident, he wears protective glasses.

POSSIBLE REMATCH

If Big Red can lock up a Division II East 1 district title and the same for St. Clairsville in East 2, the two squads would see one another in the regional tournament.

SEASON SWEEP

Big Red defeated the Red Devils, 6-2, on April 3 to capture the regular-season sweep.

UP NEXT

St. Clairsville: Travels to Harrison Central for a noon contest on Saturday for the Eastern Ohio Baseball League championship. Then, the eighth-seeded Red Devils face No. 6 John Glenn on Monday at Indian Valley.

Steubenville: Continues its suspended contest at 5 p.m. today at Edison. The Wildcats lead 1-0 in the top of the second. Afterward, Big Red, the second seed, will prepare for its district semifinal against No. 9 Maysville Monday at Harrison Central.

“As a team, we just have to keep working and take each game one at a time,” Heatherington said. “We just have to take one game at a time, and the next one is against Edison. We just want to play hard and play with energy.”

(Catullo can be reached at jcatullo@heraldstaronline.com)

Steubenville 14, St. Clairsville 0

St. Clairsville 0-0-0 0-0 — 0-3-0

Steubenville 7-4-3 0-x — 14-18-1

ST. CLAIRSVILLE (15-10): Storer (lp, 1 2/3IP, 11R, 14H, 0BB, 2K); Balgo (1 1/3IP, 3R, 3H, 1BB, 1K); Tonkovich (1IP, 0R, 1H, 0BB, 1K) and Jarvis.

STEUBENVILLE (20-6): Sutton (wp, CG, 1BB, 4K) and Criss.

TWO OR MORE HITS: St. Clairsville none; Steubenville (Mitchell 4, Criss 2, McCoy 3, Bickerstaff 2, Duggan 3). DOUBLES: St. Clairsville 1 (Storer); Steubenville 7 (Kausky, Criss, McCoy 2, Duggan 2, Thompson). TRIPLES: St. Clairsville none; Steubenville 1 (McCoy). HOME RUNS: none. RBIs: St. Clairsville none; Steubenville (Mitchell, Kausky, Criss 2, McCoy 3, Bickerstaff 2, Duggan 2, Zorne, Thompson).

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