STEUBENVILLE - As Mark Stacy noted, his Post 33 players have a "knack for getting on base anyway they can." That knack paid huge dividends Tuesday at Vaccaro Field.
Post 33 did all its scoring without the benefit of a base hit in earning a 3-2 victory against Wheeling Post 1.The win was Steubenville's ninth in 11 outings.
Held scoreless through four frames, Post 33 put its "knack" to work in the fifth. Bryan Pierro worked Post 1 starter Mario Peroni for a lead-off walk. Dimitri Collaros was nailed by a pitch and John Linn earned a free pass to juice the sacks.
Wheeling shortstop Andrew Kowalo attempts to tag out Steubenville’s Pat Pizzoferrato at second.
With Niko Petrides coming to the plate, Wheeling coach Mark Delbrugge pulled Peroni in favor of Joey Minor. Petrides laced Minor's first offering to second, allowing Pierro to score. Justin Corsi was intentionally walked to re-load the bases.
After the second out of the inning, Collaros raced home on a pass ball. Linn scored from second when the Post 1 catcher committed a throwing error trying to erase Collaros at the plate and Post 33 had the lead for good.
"Sometimes, that's the thing," Stacy said. "Walks, hit batsman, anyway you can get on base. These kids have knack for doing that. Whether we score a bunch of runs or not, they're getting on base and making things happen.
"I think the key play was great base running by Linn. That's anticipation. That's wanting to score from second. That's hoping something happens and allows me to get an extra base. Our base running was the key to the game."
The fifth inning rally made a winner out of Devin Ferguson, who went the distance on the hill. He was nicked for two runs in the first thanks to RBI singles by Nate Bakaitis and Eric Crow. After that, Ferguson slammed the door on Post 1 (2-2).
Following Crow's base knock, he retired 10 in a row before surrendering a fifth inning lead-off single to Matt Brooks. Trevor Stewart's sacrifice advanced Brooks to second. Brooks broke for third with two outs, drawing a throw to second from Post 33 catcher Kai McClurg which sailed into center field.
Branden Jones alertly came up with the ball and fired a strike to the plate, allowing McClurg to tag out Brooks. Ferguson, who had one strike out and issued a single walk, allowed just three hits.
"Devin pitched a tremendous game for us," Stacy noted. "He retired 18 of the last 19 batters he faced and was very efficient, throwing just 73 pitches. He came in against Toronto when we had an injury and pitched lights out.
"He did a great job for Big Red this season. He's just a bulldog on the mound. We're going to keep giving him the ball."
Peroni and Minor held Post 33 to a pair of hits, singles by Pat Pizzoferrato and Pierro.
"It was well pitched on both sides," Stacy said. "Peroni was mowing us down for a while. We hung in there and made him throw a lot of pitches. Eventually, we got him out of the game in the fifth. We have been preaching that all year. If you're going to win against a good pitcher in a tournament setting, you're not always going to get a lot runs but you have to battle. You have to run the pitch count up and hopefully get the guy out of the game.
"We're real pleased with this win. Wheeling has a nice team."
Delbrugge agreed with Stacy, stating the game "was well pitched."
"Their kid settled in and did a good job," he said. "We were a lot of first ball hitting. We thought we could get his pitch count up, especially after the first inning (Post 1 sent six batters to the plate in its half of the frame).
"Then he had some quick 1-2-3 innings (Ferguson retired the side in five of the last six frames) that really helped him out. Our starter pitched excellent as did our reliever. You get beat on a pass ball and an error-that's a tough one to swallow."