Linsly Rallies for 22nd OVAC Baseball Title
TORONTO — Linsly School and Ohio Valley Athletic Conference baseball championships are synonmous.
The Cadets added another chapter to their illustrious history Friday night at a chilly Knights Baseball Complex.
Trailing 2-1 in the sixth inning, Linsly struck for two runs and then escaped a jam in the seventh to secure its 22nd OVAC title in school history by a 3-2 score against Martins Ferry in the Class 3A title game.
“This is a great group of kids, and I couldn’t be happier for them,” Linsly head coach Jay Cartwright said amid a celebration on the field. “This is an outstanding group of seniors, and I am going to miss that group of kids. This was a great high school baseball game and we’re fortunate to come out on top.”
While the Cadets were celebrating, the Purple Riders were left to wonder what might have been.
“Can you get any closer to winning an OVAC championship than we have the last two times we’ve been (in the final)?” Rider head coach Anthony Reasbeck said. “It’s the same thing. The sixth inning cost us against Steubenville five years ago in this game and it got us again (Friday). Every OVAC game we’ve lost during my tenure has been by one run, but what are you going to do?”
Prior to the sixth, Linsly couldn’t solve Rider ace Colby Shriver, who was seemingly getting better as the game went along.
However, a little bit of fatigue looked to be setting in for the sixth.
With Shriver’s pitch count climbing, Brodie Selmon drew a lead-off walk and was lifted for pinch runner, Jack Selmon. Jack Scouvart followed with a single.
Collin Paul got ahead in the count and then ripped a double to left center that brought both runners around to score.
“Luckily, Collin had that big swing and it’s nice to have that speed on the bases that allowed a guy to score easily from first,” Cartwright said. “Collin’s a big, strong kid. He can hit and he’s had some key knocks for us.”
Somehow, Shriver — with the help of impressive shortstop Connor Probst snagging a pair of liners — was able to escape further damage to keep his team within a run.
Ferry, which hadn’t truly threatened since the second when it loaded the bases, but couldn’t get any more than the one run across, watched Alex Bennett draw a one-out walk.
Colton Reddinger then sacrificed — with two strikes — to get Bennett into scoring position. That also brought an end to the night for Linsly ace Kobe Hill, who had to depart because of the West Virginia pitch count rule of 110.
Cartwright elected to go to Brodie Selmon out of the pen, but he walked Chase Goff and then fell behind the ensuing Rider hitter with two balls. Wasting no more time, Cartwright went back to the mound and brought in Adam Och.
Inheriting the 2-0 count, Och proceeded to throw a ball. His next three pitches were all strikes, setting off a dogpile on the pitcher’s mound.
“This is not a knock on Martins Ferry, but Linsly is better than us, and actually they’re more than one-run better than us,” Reasbeck said. “I have the scrappiest bunch of guys and I just love them. They scrapped like crazy and everyone here saw it. I am happy for Linsly, and I am proud of my guys. Everyone here got treated to a heck of a baseball game, but we just came up a run short.”
While Och got the save, Hill earned the win. He was impressive. He limited the Riders to three hits. He fanned six.
“Kobe was just a bulldog all night,” Cartwright said. “Ferry did a good job of battling with two strikes and ran his (pitch) count up and we had to pull him. I would have liked to have ended the game with him on the mound, but both Brodie and Och have been throwing well. Och has been a strike thrower coming in in relief.”
Ferry got on the board first when Reddinger drew a bases-loaded walk, forcing home senior Logan Smith, who had singled to open the second.
Linsly knotted the game in the home half of the second on a sacrifice fly by Trey Prather.
The Riders created their run in the fourth. Trevor Hanson, who had singled, went to second on an error and third on a wild pitch, eventually touched home when Hill was called for a balk.
“This conference means a lot to me and our program,” Reasbeck said. “Steve Wojcik, Bill Beattie and everyone involved with this conference make it great. All of the baseball coaches wake up and check the standings each morning because you want to win this conference. It’s the greatest thing in the world, and I love it. Having said that, we will now focus on the sectional and district tournament.”