RICHMOND - Games can change on just one pitch.
Wednesday evening, two pitches helped turn the tide in favor of the Red-and-Black, and the Steubenville softball team did not look back en route to an 8-0 victory over Buckeye Local in an Ohio Division II district sectional semifinal at Jefferson Lake State Park.
"I'm feeling a lot better now," Big Red (21-7) head coach Gus DiMarzio said. "I was a nervous wreck. I admit it. They are a good team.
With the win, Big Red will play in the sectional final at 5:30 p.m. Friday. It will play either Edison or Indian Creek in the title tilt. The Wildcats and Redskins are scheduled to play at 5:30 p.m. today in the other tournament semifinal.
"I look out there at the scoreboard, and I see zero for us," Buckeye Local (14-7) head coach Joe Soos said. "A team has never won scoring zero. Big Red got some big hits. They scored some runs. That is why they came out on top. That is why they are advancing."
The two pitches in question came in the bottom of the fourth inning.
With two outs, Casey Gentile doubled off of the fence in left field. She was then lifted for a courtesy runner. The runner was awarded third base after the field umpire called an illegal pitch on Buckeye Local pitcher Ivy Starcher, and Big Red scored its second run of the game when Starcher was called for her second illegal pitch of the game.
"I think the game turned when it was 1-0, and the umpire called two illegal pitches," Soos said. "He handed them a run.
"I am not taking anything away from Steubenville. They deserved to win the game. She has been called for an illegal pitch a few times. The funny thing is she has only been called for it when there have been runners on base. That's the way it goes.
"I'm not blaming the umpires. It's our fault. We didn't score.
Big Red broke the game open in the fifth by scoring four more runs to build a 6-0 advantage.
"It is part of the game," DiMarzio said about the illegal pitch calls. "She battled her butt off. She is a senior. This is her last game. She is a great pitcher. She fought the whole time.
"Did those two calls changed the game? I don't know. I don't know if it changed how she pitched, but she still fought. It was tough out there for her. That's tough on a young lady."
Stamps picked up the win for Big Red. She struck out four and walked two.
Offensively, Big Red delivered six hits, four of which went for extra-bases including two which sailed over the fence in left field for home runs.
Individually, Mytia Barker recorded a two-run home run, Rhiannon Petrisko produced a solo home run and Na Banks belted a run-scoring single and a run-scoring double.
Starcher took the loss for the Panthers. Starcher struck out seven and walked two in 4 2/3 innings of work inside the circle. She was replaced by Sandra Gardner with two outs in the fifth inning. Gardner did not record a strikeout while walking two in her 1 1/3 innings of work.
Offensively, Becky Zeroski belted a double, while Lauren Swiger and Karlee Leonard delivered base hits.
Buckeye Local 000 000 0 - 0 3 3
Steubenville 100 142 x - 8 6 2
BL-Starcher lp (7K, 2W), Gardner (5), (0K, 2W) and B. Zeroski; B. Zeroski D.
S-Stamps (4K, 2W) and M. Barker; Banks S, D, 2rbi; M. Barker HR, 2rbi; Petrisko HR, rbi; Gentile D