MARTINS FERRY - Following Thursday's defeat against Union Local, Martins Ferry skipper Anthony Reasbeck was eager to see if it would turn out to be a ''good loss.''
Saturday, he got his answer.
Luke Lloyd tossed a five-hit complete game, Marcus Sutton slapped a single and knocked in two runs and the Purple Riders blanked St. Clairsville, 9-0, in an OVAC Class 4A baseball semifinal at Martins Ferry High School.
MARTINS FERRY’S Marcus Sutton is congratulated by teammate T.J. Jacob after Sutton scored the game’s first run Saturday in the Riders’ OVAC?Class 4A baseball semifinal against St. Clairsville. Ferry won, 9-0. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
The Purple Riders (11-7) advance to face Steubenville in next Friday's championship game at Toronto's Red Knights Baseball Complex. First pitch is set for 7:30 p.m. Big Red bested Harrison Central in the other 4A semi.
''This is a tribute to them,'' Reasbeck said. ''These kids are great in eery sport they play. I wish everyone had an opportunity to coach these guys. It's so fun, so much fun.''
Lloyd set the tone immediately for the Purple Riders, getting two of his three Ks on the day in a 1-2-3 first inning.
''At breakfast this morning I told the guys that if we could get out of the first inning I liked our chances,'' Reasbeck said.
''Lucas did an outstanding job of placing his pitches. And, once we got a few runs, he settled in and we went from there.''
Ferry didn't hit the leather off the ball like they had in its surge that got them into the OVAC Tournament. But they did all the little things and took advantage of some St. Clairsville miscues to get the job done.
''We did what we had to do,'' Reasbeck said. ''We hit sac flies, bunted well ... we had smart at-bats. I can live with that.
''It seemed like through the first part of the season we couldn't catch any breaks. I told the guys that it's baseball and the breaks would even out. They did (Saturday).''
Sutton reached first on an error to start the second and went to second after Garrett Trudo walked. Seth Scott then laid down a sac bunt advancing the runners to third and second, respectively.
After Jeremy Plants was hit by a Cody Goletz pitch, leadoff man Brendan Baire walked in Sutton for the game's first run.
Next, T.J. Jacob hit a shot to first. An attempt to force Trudo out at home failed and Ferry went up 2-0.
St. Clairsville's Patrick Buchanan singled to lead off the third. After Ryan Busby grounded out to second, Luke Slavik reached on an error giving the Red Devils runners at the corners. A Goletz single loaded the bases. But Lewis Mitchell flied out and Buchnan was tagged out at home to end the frame.
''We had opportunities to score,'' Red Devils head coach Tom Sliva said. ''We just have to do a better job of giving ourselves opportunities.
''But, there's a lot of baseball left to be played.''
St. Clairsville left five runners stranded, including two more in the fifth.
Meanwhile, The Purple Riders scored four times in a wild bottom of the fourth that included three hits, two errors, a walk and a catcher's interference.
The first four Ferry batters in the sixth were walked - Robert Vargo, Cole Coup, Ethan Baire and Sutton. Sutton's walk scored Vargo, Coup scored on a passed ball and a Baire came in on a sac fly by Scott.
'Zuke' Jacob finished with two singles for the Red Devils.
OVAC Class 4A
Martins Ferry 9, St. Clairsville 0
St. Clairsville000 000 0 - 0 5 3
Martins Ferry020 403 x - 9 4 1
S - Goletz lp (4K, 5W0, Coleman (6) (0K, 4W), Blomquist (6) (0K, 0W) and Slavik. Jacob 2S.
M - L.Lloyd wp (3K, 1W) and Scott. Jacob S, rbi; E.Baire rbi; Sutton S, 2rbi; Scott rbi.