Three out of four ain't bad.
For the third time in the last four seasons, Barton has emerged as the Steele and Cook Insurance Ohio Valley Baseball League's playoff champions.
Tuesday night at the old ballyard in Neffs, the Braves (22-5) posted a 4-1 victory over the A's Gang (19-11) before an appreciative crowd to conclude the 2012 season.
BARTON’S Tyler Kurtz delivers a pitch during Tuesday’s Game 4 of the OVBL?Championship Series. Kurtz worked the distance, earning his second win of the series and leading the Braves to the league title against Neffs.
With the win, Barton wins the best-of-5 series 3-1.
"We've been in the championship series 10 straight years, so to win our third in four years is satisfying," Barton manager Billy Timko offered. "It was a heckuva series. Neffs gave us a great series."
Game 4 was scoreless until the top of the third when the Braves finally broke through against Neffs' lefty Michael Roach.
Jordan Yager, a Barnesville High and West Liberty product, drew a two-out walk. He went to second when Derek Miller's shot up the middle struck Roach in the right foot for an infield single. Vinnie Kirkpatrick grounded to the right side of the infield, but Roach was a split-second late in covering the bag as Kirkpatrick dove to the bag first as Yager alertly raced home with the game's first tally.
It appeared as though Neffs would at least tie the game in the fourth as Jon Nagel was hit by a pitch leading off and Clay Francis walked on a 3-2 pitch. However, Nagel was erased at third on a botched sacrifice attempt, and Barton ace Tyler Kurtz, who improved to 10-3 on the summer, fanned the next two hitters.
His teammates rewarded him with two more runs in the fifth. Dustin Hynes reached second on an error leading off, but was promptly picked off. Yager was then plunked by Roach and stole second. Miller then launched a double to center that drove in Yager to make it 2-0. With two outs, Miller swiped third and strolled home when the throw went into leftfield.
The A's Gang finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth when Clark Kasprowski was hit with a pitch. He was sacrificed to second by Brandon Leonard and raced home when Dane Koch sent a drive over Ryan Kreiter's head in left for a two-bagger.
Josh nagel sent a screamer that was gloved by Jordan Barbina, who tagged Koch and throw to first for the inning-ending twin-killing.
"That was huge. Really big," Timko said of the defensive gem.
Barton concluded the scoring in the sixth as Anthony Rocchio drew a one-out walk and Kreiter walked. With two outs, Hynes singled to right as Rocchio slid in safely.
Neffs had one more threat in the bottom of the seventh, but a taylor-made 6-4-3 double play wiped out that opportunity.
"We got a good taste of it," Koch said. "It's great being here and we wanted to win, but being here for the first time can only make us better."
Kurtz, who was named the series' MVP, turned in his second complete-game effort on the mound. The righthander struck out five, walked one and scattered four hits. He needed just 86 pitches (54 strikes).
"Tyler did a great job for us this season, and especially in the championship series," Timko allowed.
Roach, meanwhile, allowed seven hits, fanned a pair and walked half-a-dozen. He tossed 114 pitches, which half of were strikes.
Barton 001 021 0 - 4 7 1
Neffs 000010 0 - 1 4 2
Batteries: Kurtz and Hynes. Roach and Cla. Francis.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org