Big Red jumps over Indian Valley early, hangs on for victory
STEUBENVILLE — Two big innings propelled Steubenville to an 8-4 bounce back victory over Indian Valley on a frigid Friday at Vaccaro Field.
Fred Heatherington’s club got started early, as it put five runs on the board in the home half of the first inning. Hakim Edwards and Aaron Ferguson drew walks off Indian Valley starter Samuel Zurcher. Caesen Sutton, Kye Fleming and Quinn McCoy then followed with run-scoring singles. Ty Pierce drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home a run, and Andrew Gresko capped the inning with a fly ball to right that plated McCoy.
“It was a good win for us,” Heatherington said after watching his Big Red improve to 5-3. “We did some things a little different with our batting practice and pre-game drills. We think it really helped us.
“Mentally, we were there (Friday). In baseball, if you are not there mentally you are in trouble and you are going to struggle. We were there mentally, and our kids played well.”
After facing 10 batters in the first, Zurcher settled down and held Big Red scoreless until the fourth.
Edwards led off with a single and advanced when Ferguson reached on an error. Sutton delivered a two-run base hit. McCoy’s fly to left would finish Big Red’s scoring.
“We jumped out 5-0 in the first inning, but then our bats kind of died,” Heatherington said. “But, give credit to their pitcher because he found his stuff and was pretty effective. We were able to score some runs late.
“We hit the ball hard, and we didn’t do that (Thursday when Big Red fell to Wheeling Park). We feel we saw a good pitcher tonight. He struggled early but like I said, he found his stuff. We were able to get some timely hits, and any time you get timely hits in high school baseball, you are in good shape.”
Zurcher and Gavin Henry, who took over in the fourth, allowed six hits but also issued six walks and hit two Big Red batters.
Sutton paced Big Red at the plate with two singles and three RBIs.
Cooper Blackburn started on the hill for Steubenville and collected the victory. He allowed a single run in the third before encountering some control issues in the fourth. The Braves (7-5) scored twice in the frame thanks to bases-loaded walks. Sutton, who tossed a one-hit shutout Tuesday at New Philadelphia, relieved Blackburn with one out and the bases jammed.
The first batter he faced hit a grounder back to the mound, which Sutton turned into a 1-2-3 inning-ending double play.
“Cooper pitched well for us, but he just ran out of a gas in the fourth,” Heatherington said. “We brought Caesen in, and he got us out of a little jam. They both did nice a good job.”
Indian Valley outhit Big Red, 9-6. Trevor Myers and Cole Lancaster each contributed a double and a single to the Braves’ attack. Myers’ double in the seventh produced the final Valley run. Grant Tschudy singled twice.
“Indian Valley is a young team, but they are well coached,” Heatherington said. “We knew they were not going to quit no matter what the score was. They battled the entire game.”
Steubenville: Tentatively travels to Coshocton today for its first doubleheader of the season. Game one starts at noon. Heatherington’s club will host Edison Tuesday.
Steubenville 8, Indian Valley 4
Indian Valley 0-0-1 2-0-0 1 — 4 9 2
Steubenville 5-0-0 3-0-0 x — 8 6 2
INDIAN VALLEY (7-5): Zurcher (LP, 3IP, 8R, 7ER, 5H, 3BB, 2K, 2HBP) Henry (3IP, 0R, 1H, 3BB, 1K) and McComb. Myers D, S, RBI; Lancaster D, S; Parsons S, RBI; Tschudy 2S; Enos S; McComb S; Henry RBI; Bonifay RBI.
STEUBENVILLE (5-3): Blackburn (WP, 3/13IP, 3R, 3ER, 5H, 5BB, 1K) Sutton (32/3IP, 1R, 1ER, 4H, 0BB, 4K) and Smith. Sutton 2S, 3RBIs; McCoy S, 2RBIs; Fleming S, RBI; Edwards S; Smith S; Pierce RBI; Gresko RBI.