With its proverbial back to the wall Monday night, Neffs put forth a gut-check effort and remained alive in the Steele and Cook Insurance Ohio Valley Baseball League championship series.
The A's Gang (19-10) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning and never looked back in earning a 6-1 victory in Game 3 of the best-of-5 series on the Henning Field Diamond in Crescent.
"When we come and our sticks (bats) are working, we're a pretty dangerous team," Neffs' player/co-manager Dane Koch offered. "I feel like we beat ourselves in the first two games by not hitting the ball because we had opportunities, we just didn't take advantage of them.
Neffs’ Jon Nagel rounds third base after smacking a two-run homer in the first inning Monday night at Henning Field in Crescent. The A’s Gang remained alive with a 6-1 victory.
"Today, we knew what we had to do, and we came out and did it."
Game 4 is set for tonight at 6 at the old ballyard along Ohio 149 in Neffs. Should a Game 5 be needed, it is scheduled for Wednesday night in Crescent, also at 6.
Needing a jump-start in the win-or-go-home contest, veteran Jon Nagel provided Neffs with just that when he slammed a two-run, two-out homer just inside the 312-sign down the leftfield line.
"That was huge," Koch said of Nagel's blast. "That was a great momentum boost for us. He's been there for us all year."
The Braves (21-5) got one of those tallies back in the second frame as Joel Atkinson dropped a run-scoring two-out double on the chalk down the leftfield line. It scored Derek Miller who had drawn a leadoff walk.
However, Barton, which had its 15-game win streak halted, never seriously threatened again off Neffs' righty Matt Masarick. The former Martins Ferry hurler notched win No. 13 against only one loss as he scattered three hits. He only struck out one batter, but only issued one free pass. He needed a mere 79 pitches (56 strikes) for his complete-game effort.
"There's a reason why he only has one loss on the season," Koch said of his very good friend. "He's a heckuva pitcher."
While Masarick was shutting down Barton's high-powered offense, his teammates were giving him some breathing room with a run in the fourth and three huge markers in the fifth.
Clark Kasprowski's run-producing grounder chased home Steve Splenda in the fourth, while Fred Owens highlighted the fifth-inning uprising when he bounced a two-run single up the middle with one out.
That hit ended Tom Pasco's evening on the hill for Barton. The veteran righthander, working his final OVBL contest, surrendered five hits in 4 innings of work, striking out only one and walking three. He allowed all six earned runs.
Nagel blasted a double off the fence in left to drive in Owens with the final run of the game off reliever Nick Rocchio.
"Getting those first two runs before I even took the mound was really big," Masarick noted. "That gave us a little spark at the beginning, and he gave us that.
"I had a really good defensive effort behind me once again tonight, and our bats came alive," Masarick added.
Barton manager Billy Timko was less than pleased with his team's effort in such a huge game.
"We were supposed to be here at 4:30 p.m. for batting practice. At five o'clock, there are two guys here. We thought we had this game won, but we found out that we don't yet," he stressed. "This happened the last time we won a championship. We had the (Wheeling) Cardinals 2-0 and thought we were the cock of the walk, but we weren't.
"We are a much better team than we showed tonight, and I won't put up with the way we played. We had better get our heads out of our butts tomorrow night."
Neffs 200 130 0 -- 6 7 1
Barton 010 000 0 -- 1 3 0
Batteries:?Masarick and Jos. Nagel. Pasco, N. Rocchio (5) and Hynes.
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