MARTINS FERRY - It was the signature victory Pec Schmitt was looking for.
After about a week of banging on the door, Union Local finally broke it down in big way Thursday evening by cooling off a hot Martins Ferry squad, 12-7, on the Purple Riders' own diamond.
The Jets (4-10) banged out 18 hits and rallied from a 6-2 deficit to put the brakes on a Martins Ferry team that had been steamrolling.
''This absolutely a big victory,'' Schmitt said. ''That's a top 4 team in the OVAC right there.
''We knew they could hit the ball.''
And Martins Ferry (10-7) did. But what it didn't do was keep its foot on the gas pedal when it had the lead.
''The difference (Thursday) was we didn't play very hard,'' a disappointed Purple Riders skipper Anthony Reasbeck said.
''We got up 6-2 and relaxed. We thought we were good enough to just walk on the field and beat teams. We're so far from that.
''I hope we can make this a good loss. If we can, then I can sleep. If we can't, then that's my fault.''
Martins Ferry won six of seven to earn a home game in the OVAC Class 4A semifinals Saturday afternoon against St. Clairsville. The Purple Riders welcome Buckeye Local this afternoon and Reasbeck is eager to see if his team can regroup ahead of Saturday's tournament game.
''I don't know if playing (Friday) is good or bad,'' he said. ''I'll love it if we can make this a good loss.''
Union Local won't be playing for an OVAC title. However, Schmitt and his team are setting their sights on sectional play, which begins in a few weeks.
''(The 18 hits) probably quadruples our average,'' Schmitt said smiling. ''We hit it. The first-pitch fastball, we hit it. Our bats are coming along at the right time.
''The last three games, we've been hitting the baseball ... hitting the fastball and that's what we want. We're going to be a real tough out.
''I know (Martins Ferry) is a hot team, but we just never gave up. It's so simple. Just hit the baseball.''
That's what the Jets did. In fact, it wasn't a good day to be a pitcher for either team. The Purple Riders had a good day at the plate, too, banging out 11 hits.
Ferry slapped four straight in the first inning - including RBI doubles by Connor Coup and Ethan Baire - en route to taking a 4-2 advantage.
An RBI double by Robert Vargo, followed by an RBI single by Coup in the second gave the Purple Riders what looked like a comfortable four-run lead.
From there, though, the Jets took off.
During the next two innings, Union Local pounded out five hits and scored seven runs to take the lead for good.
Dalton Toto keyed the surge in the third with a two-run double. Griffey Girty totaled two singles and an RBI in the two frames, part of a 4-for-5 day for the junior cleanup hitter.
Travis James (3S, 2rbi), Shane Smolenak (3S) and Cody Burnett (D, 2S, rbi) also rapped three hits for UL, which had leadoff batters reach base in the first six innings.
Coup, Martins Ferry's cleanup hitter, finished 4 of 4, adding on a double, a single and another RBI. Vargo, Baire, Garrett Trudo and Marcus Sutton all drove in runs for the Purple Riders.
Union Local203 412 0 - 12 18 2
Martins Ferry420 100 0 - 7 11 3
U - Lucas (0K, 1W), Girty (1) (1K, 2W) and Burnett. Smolenak 3S; James 3S, 2rbi; M.Dunfee S, rbi; Girty 4S, rbi; Bruce 2S, 2rbi; Toto D, S, 2rbi; Burnett D, 2S, rbi.
M - Barbour lp (0K, 3W), Coup (4) (0K, 2W), Lloyd (4) (2K, 0W) and Scott. Vargo D, rbi; Coup 2D, 2S, 3rbi; E.Baire D, rbi; Sutton S, rbi; Trudo S, rbi.