STEUBENVILLE - If Harrison Central and Carrollton had been boxing Saturday afternoon, the contest would have been considered a draw.
The pair of Division II heavyweights went toe-to-toe at Vaccaro Field, but when the final bell had sounded after 12 long innings, the Huskies (22-6) had advanced with an 8-7 verdict for the co-sectional championship.
"When they say it's a shame somebody has to lose, that describes this game to the tee," Harrison Central head coach Justin Clifford said. "My hat's off to Carrollton and my team. That one a great baseball game."
HARRISON CENTRAL’S Rashaen Mitchell dives over top of Carrollton catcher Storm Mohn during Saturday’s Division II?sectional co-final at Vaccaro Field in Steubenville. Mitchell was ruled out for diving over a player. Looking on is the Huskies’ Rhett Kuryn.
That final bell came in the form of Rashaen Mitchell's 10th strikeout of the game. Not bad for a guy who only pitched four innings.
"This is an unbelievable feeling," Mitchell said. "It's just wonderful."
Deadlocked at seven, Harrison Central catcher Nick Staten drew a walk with one out. Rhett Kuryn followed with a single to left as Staten moved up 90 feet. With the count 2-1 on Austin Kowalski, the Huskies' No. 8 hitter sent a shot back up the middle that chased home Staten as the Harrison Central dugout erupted.
In the bottom of the 12th, Mitchell walked Tyler Krantz to open the frame. He moved to second on a wild pitch before Mitchell struck out Jeremiah Lowery. After whiffing Mirko Dobrijevic for the second out, another wild pitch moved the tying run to third. But Mitchell ended things in style by getting pinch-hitter Jason Leggett looking at a 1-2 pitch.
"When we were freshmen, we were at the bottom of our sectional," Harrison Central senior Nick Pelegreen offered. "Now, as seniors, we're on top of it. It feels really good."
The Huskies scored first when Rashaen Mitchell singled home Dalton Rutter with one out in the top of the first.
The Warriors (16-10) responded with four runs in their half of the first. Krantz singled in the first run off Pelegreen and Zach Brannick's bases-clearing triple down the first base line made it 4-0.
Harrison Central slowly chipped away, scoring one run in the second when Staten raced home on Kalub Mitchell's sacrifice fly. The Huskies re-gained the lead in the third as Staten singled in Rashaen Mitchell and Kowalski's two-run base hit through the left side of the infield pushed the visitors ahead, 5-4.
Pelegreen's RBI single in the fourth bumped the margin to 6-4 and it stood that way until Carrollton tallied three times in the bottom of the sixth to grab a 7-6 edge.
Adam Warner had a run-scoring single for the Warriors. Krantz smacked a two-run single that ended Pelegreen's day on the hill.
Freshman Dustin Redish entered and got out of the jam without any further damage.
"That's a pretty good effort by a freshman in a pressure situation," Clifford added. Redish would pitch into the ninth before giving way to Rashaen Mitchell.
Both teams had ample opportunities to win the game at various times during the five extra frames, but both sqaundered those chances until Harrison Central capitalized in the 12th.
The Huskies escaped elimination in the ninth when Carrollton's Zach Fry attempted to score on a passed ball with two outs, but was thrown out by a perfect Staten flip to Mitchell covering the plate.
All told, Harrison Central pitchers struck out 23 Warriors, with Mitchell leading the way. Pelegreen charted nine and Redish four.
The Huskies banged out 14 hits, led by Rashaen Mitchell's five singles. Kowalski, Pelegreen and Kuryn each had a pair of safeties, with Kowalski knocking in three runs.
"I was just looking to make contact," Kowalski said of his game-winning hit. "It's a great feeling right now."
The teams combined to strand three dozen runners on base, with Harrison Central leaving 20.
With the hard-earned win, Harrison Central returns to Vaccaro Field Wednesday to meet Dover in the district title game. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.
Harrison Central 113 100 100 001 - 8 14 2
Carrollton 400 003 000 000 - 7 9 2
Batteries: Pelegreen, Redish (6), R. Mitchell (9) and Staten. Lowery, Krantz (4),, Fry (10), Lowery (10), and Mohn
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