STEUBENVILLE - For the fourth time since Harrison Central was formed through a consolidation to start the 1999-2000 school year, the Huskies can call themselves OVAC baseball champions.
Saturday afternoon here at sun-splashed Vaccaro Field, No. 1 seeded Harrison Central (16-5) used a complete-game mound effort from Rashaen Mitchell in rolling past second-seeded Steubenville, 11-4, to capture the Class 4A title.
The senior southpaw struck out 11, including the last out of the game, and walked just two. He allowed five singles - four in the second inning when Big Red (15-6) tallied three of its runs.
HARRISON CENTRAL’S Rashaen Mitchell pitches during a game this season.?Mitchell and the Huskies captured the OVAC 4A title Saturday.
"This feels great," the 6-7 Mitchell said. "When we started out as freshmen, we didn't win too many games. Now that we've worked our way to the top, it feels good that we've won a title."
The Huskies also won titles in 2000, 2005-06. Cadiz claimed a pair of championships in 1984 and 1990.
Harrison Central took advantage of whatever Steubenville would give it, and that turned out to be a lot as Big Red committed four errors and a pair of pitchers issued nine base-on-balls in six innings.
"(Rashaen) Mitchell threw a good game," veteran Steubenville head coach Fred Heatherington said. "Offensively, I thought we did well. We put the bat on the ball, and we were disciplined at the plate, but defensively, we were pitiful. Our defense killed us."
Harrison Central head coach Justin Clifford agreed with Heatherington on Mitchell's outing, which included 116 pitches (71 strikes).
"Rashaen hasn't had his best stuff in his last couple of outings. We talked about him going or not going (today), but he came to me and told me he wanted the ball today.
"We weren't thinking (of getting) seven innings from him," Clifford admitted. "We were thinking four or five, but he kept coming in and telling me he wanted to keep going. What can you say about the kid?"
The Huskies grabbed the early lead with two runs in the bottom of the first.
Mitchell, who was on base all four times he went to the plate (3 walks, single), drew a free pass with two outs from Big Red starter Anthony Zorne. When Mitchell took second on a passed ball, Heatherington elected to intentionally walk Nick Pelegreen. Drew Horn's ensuing chopper to third turned into an infield single to load the bases, but they didn't stay that way very long as Nick Staten walked on a 3-2 pitch to force in a run. A wild pitch during Rhett Kuryn's at-bat made it 2-0.
Big Red came right back with a 3-spot in the second when Justin Corsi lined a leadoff single to left. One out later, Pat Pizzoferrato singled sharply to center. Kai McClurg's slow roller to short loaded the bases. A wild pitch scored one run and Lucas Herington's single to right on a 1-1 pitch chased home Pizzoferrato and McClurg to give Steubenville a 3-2 edge.
Rashaen Mitchell helped himself out with a 2-out opposite-field single to left that knocked in Dalton Rutter, who had walked, to tie the game at three.
With Mitchell settling into a groove, the Huskies broke the game wide-open with a 5-run fourth as all nine batters went to the plate.
Kalub Mitchell singled sharply to left leading off and went to second when the ball was kicked around. Dustin Redish drew a 1-out walk and RashaenMitchell was walked to load the bases. Zorne went 2-0 on Pelegreen before he was pulled in favor of Evan Westlake, who ended up walking Pelegreen to force in the first run.
That's when things started to unravel for Big Red. A wild pitch allowed Redish to sprint home, but the throw to third trying to get Rashaen Mitchell was off target, and he trotted in. One out later, Kuryn sent a drive to deep left for a run-scoring double, making it 8-3.
Matt Petrella's RBI single in the fifth made it 8-4, but Kuryn capped a 3-run sixth with a sacrifice fly to center. That came after a wild pitch allowed another runner to score. Staten added an RBI base rap.
"Rhett didn't even hit the other night because he's been slumping," Clifford noted. "We wanted to clear his head a little, and he came through today."
The Huskies youthful head coach couldn't praise the work of his senior class enough.
"These seniors took their lumps in their first couple years, so to be OVAC champions their senior year is a great accomplishment for them."
Harrison Central is back in action Monday at Union Local.
Harrison Central 11, Steubenville 4
Steubenville 030 010 0 - 4 5 4
Harrison Central 210 503 x - 11 8 0
S-Zorne, Westlake (4), and McClurg; R. Mitchell and Staten.
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