It had been so long since Vinnie Kirkpatrick had started a Steele and Cook Insurance Ohio Valley Baseball League on the mound, that he really couldn't remember.
"It's been quite a few years ago. Quite a few years ago," he said after hurling Barton to a 9-0 shutout of visiting Warren Township Friday night on Henning Field in Crescent. "It felt good to get out there and throw against some of these young kids."
The 35-year-old righthander allowed a leadoff double to right by Todd Heitz, who was quickly erased when Derek Supanik's screamer was gloved by shortstop Nick Rocchio who tagged Heitz to complete the double play.
Kirkpatrick then hit Logan Taylor with the next pitch, but a fielder's choice ended the inning. He then proceeded to retire the side in order over the next three innings. He allowed a two-out single to center by Clint Healy in the fifth, but he was erased trying to steal by Dustin Hynes. He worked a perfect sixth before giving way to Mike Muklewicz, who retired the River Pirates 1-2-3 in the seventh.
"It took a little while for the muscles to loosen up," Kirkpatrick, a veteran of 16 OVBL seasons, admitted. "Especially those old ones."
He struck out four and didn't walk a batter. In fact, he only threw 71 pitches (45 strikes) and only once did he go to three balls on a batter.
"My curveball was working pretty good," he said. "I was just trying to get ahead in the count and let my fielders do the work."
Barton manager Billy Timko had nothing but praise for his veteran righthander.
"Vinnie really was effective tonight," the Braves' skipper allowed. "He mixed his pitches real well and kept them off balance."
While the St. Clairsville graduate was holding Warren Township at bay, the Braves (10-4) were taking advantage of seven base-on-balls from the River Pirates' Mike Kovalski. They also stole 10 bases - in the first three innings alone.
"We took advantage of their wildness and we wanted to be aggressive on the bases," Timko said. "We played pretty well tonight."
Barton bolted to a 4-0 lead after two innings on just one hit.
Nick Rocchio led off the bottom of the first with a walk and went to second when Dustin Hynes roped a single to left. Jordan Yager's sacrifice bunt was thrown wildly to first, allowing Rocchio to score and Hynes to take third. He would race home on Derek Miller's groundout.
In the second, Anthony Rocchio drew a leadoff walk and went to second on a groundout. A wild pitch moved him to third and brother Nick was walked. The Bellaire products executed the double steal to perfection, making it 3-0. After stealing third, Nick Rocchio would trot home on Hynes' roller to first.
A four-run third sealed the deal. Jordan Barbina walked and stole second and third. Nick Koval also was free passed and swiped second. Joel Atkinson's fly ball to center plated Barbina, while Koval slid in safely on Anthony Rocchio's groundout. Ryan Kreiter kept the inning alive with a single to left and raced around the bases when Nick Rocchio smacked a double down the leftfield line. Rocchio would score on Hynes' infield single to the hole at short.
Barton would conclude the scoring in the sixth when Miller singled home Hynes, who had three of Barton's seven hits.
"We didn't hit the ball again tonight," Warren Township manager Frank Kovalchik said. "But then again, we didn't have a full complement of players, either."
The two teams meet again Sunday in Tiltonsville at 6 p.m., instead of 1 p.m.
IN other action last night, Weirton (10-3-1) whitewashed St. Clairsville (10-4-1) by a 9-0 count on Edwin J. Bowman Field in the Steel City.
The Red Dons scored eight times in the third to take control.
Rudy Nagy singled and doubled to drive in three runs. Eric Sperlazza and Jarod Flasco combined for four ribbies.
Chris Bittinger and Cam Rausch combined on the shutout with six strikeouts.
The Titans travel to Shadyside Sunday, while Weirton treks to Maynard. Both games start at 1 p.m.
Wheeling Cardinals 5, Neffs 2
At Wheeling, the Cardinals (9-2) remained in first place with the win over the A's Gang (8-5).
A late three-run homer provided the margin of victory.
Neffs hosts Wheeling Sunday at 1 p.m.
Warren Twp. 000 000 0 - 0 2 3
Barton 224 001 x - 9 7 0
Batteries: M. Kovalski and Supanik. Kirkpatrick, Muklewicz (7) and Hynes.
St. Clairsville 000 000 0 - 0
Weirton 008 001 x - 9
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