MARTINS FERRY - Despite the cold, windy conditions high atop the Purple City, St. Clairsville southpaw Michael "Zuke" Jacob was at his best.
The Red Devils' sophomore struck out 13 and walked only one in hurling his team to a 6-3 decision over Martins Ferry Saturday morning. He scattered five hits.
"He's a bulldog," veteran St. Clairsville (3-8) head coach Tom Sliva said of Jacobs. "He did a nice job for us today. His curveball has really been working in the last two games."
ST. C’S Michael “Zuke” Jacob delivers to the plate during Saturday morning’s game at Martins Ferry. The Red Devils’ southpaw fanned 13 Purple Riders in a 6-3 victory. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
Of his baker's dozen Ks, five were of the looking variety. He threw 113 pitches, of which 75 were strikes, and needed a little more than 2 hours to complete his gem.
"The Jacob kid pitched a heckuva game," Martins Ferry head coach Anthony Reasbeck said. "You go seven innings in these conditions, you're a man."
Patrick Buchanan, St. Clairsville's No. 9 hitter, walked on a full-count to start the top of the third. Malik Gummer slapped a solid single to left that skipped through the leftfielder, allowing Buchanan to circle the bases. Gummer was awarded third base when he rounded second and collided with a Purple Rider infielder.
Turner Provost's single up the middle scored Gummer to make it 2-0. Branden Ducker looped a single into shallow center and Joel Giffin walked to load the bases. After the first out was recorded, Lewis Mitchell drew a base-on-balls to force in a run. With two outs, Luke Slavik walked on four pitches to make it 4-0.
"Any time you walk a leadoff hitter, especially the No. 9 hitter, I guarantee the odds of him scoring are about 90 percent of the time," Reasbeck noted. "That led to four runs."
The Purple Riders (7-9) got half of those tallies back in the bottom of the inning. Seth Scott reached on an error leading off and was awarded second base on a balk. Brenden Baire slapped an opposite-field double to left-center that chased home Scott. Ethan Baire legged out an infield single to that move Brenden Baire to third. He would score when Marcus Sutton's grounder was misplayed.
With one out and Giffin at bat in the Red Devils' half of the fourth, Ducker and Gummer executed a double steal to perfection as Gummer raced home to bump the count to 5-2.
Giffin's sacrifice fly in the sixth plated Gummer with St. Clairsville's final run.
Martins Ferry added an unearned run in the bottom of the inning, despite striking out four times. T.J. Jacobs lined a 2-out, pinch-hit single to left and went to second on a wild pitch. Scott then went down swinging, but the ball was dropped. The ensuing throw to first was off the mark as Jacobs circled the bases.
"This is a good win for us," Sliva said. "We've been playing good ball, it just seems that we've allowed big innings to get bigger, but today we did a good job of not letting that happen when they rallied a couple of times."
Gummer had three hits and scored three times from the leadoff spot.
"Malik had a good game," Sliva allowed. "He had a couple of big hits with two strikes that kept things going."
Slavik had two singles as the Red Devils recorded nine safeties.
Scott fanned eight, but walked four in 5-plus innings.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org