STEUBENVILLE - The right stuff.
St. Clairsville's Sammy Vincenzo had all that and more Wednesday afternoon at Vaccaro Field.
The Red Devils senior was at his finest, authoring a brilliant one-hit shutout in St. C.'s 4-0 Division II District title game victory against Tuscarawas Valley.
St. Clairsville’s Sam Vincenzo gets ready to fire to the plate during Wednesday’s game at Vaccaro Field.
Photo by Rich Gibson
Coach Tom Sliva will take his team to the regional level a second consecutive season. The Red Devils will travel to Chillicothe for a sweet 16 semifinal contest next Thursday.
"Last year we had seven seniors, this year we have six," Sliva observed. "Getting back to the regional level is a tribute to our kids' dedication to the program. They've certainly earned it."
Tusky Valley (10-21) had upset its way to the district after the Trojans were seeded sixth in a seven-team sectional event.
"We faced some very solid pitchers (to get here) but Vincenzo just overpowered us," TV coach Josh Jarvis said. "In this game, you need to put balls in play. We didn't do nearly enough of that."
Vincenzo allowed a game-opening walk followed by an infield hit before the Saints' savvy southpaw turned downright tenacious.
During the next five innings, Vincenzo struck out 14 of the 15 batters he faced. By game's end, he had recorded a career-high 15 Ks.
"We had a game plan and Sammy executed it to perfection," Sliva said. "That's as dominant a performance as I've witnessed in a long, long time."
Tusky Valley leadoff man Shaun Stotzer drew a leadoff walk. That brought up Josh Wallace whose ground ball up the middle bounced off second base resulting in an infield hit.
Stotzer was gunned out at the plate by Devils shortstop D.J. Busby before Vincenzo recorded back-to-back strikeouts.
Busby jumpstarted St. C.'s offense in the second, sending an opposite-field drive over the head of center fielder Cory Cline.
The Red Devils senior never stopped running and came in head first at home for an inside-the-park home run.
Two innings later, St.C. left fielder Cory Kotopka crushed a Jordan Barker offering to the right centerfield gap, good for a two-out triple.
Third baseman Luke Smith then delivered a clutch run-scoring hit to center and it was 2-0.
St. C. tacked on two more in the sixth with Matt Kinnick igniting the frame with a leadoff single. Busby's successful sacrifice bunt evolved into an infield hit.
Kotopka came back to deliver another big blow, this time drilling an RBI double to score Kinnick, though Busby was out at the plate.
Catcher Riley Carlton chased Kotopka home with another single to center field.
Vincenzo ended a streak of 17 straight retired batters by issuing a leadoff walk in the seventh before recording the final three outs.
Barker worked a complete game for Tusky Valley, totaling two strikeouts and one walk.