CAMBRIDGE - The late-inning magic ran out for Martins Ferry's baseball team Saturday afternoon at soggy Don Coss Field.
Isaac Klinger walked, forcing in Drew Layton with two out in the top of the eighth inning as Fort Frye rallied to down the Purple Riders, 5-4, in an Ohio Division III sectional final at City Park.
The Cadets (19-2) move on to face Shenandoah in a district semifinal contest at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Steubenville's Vaccaro Field. The Zeps topped Ridgewood on Saturday, 2-1.
T-L Photo/SETH STASKEY
MARTINS FERRY shortstop Ethan Baire prepares to field a one-hopper during Saturday’s game against Fort Frye in the sectional.
The Purple Riders finished the season at 14-12.
''I think a lot of these guys, I really do,'' an emotional Purple Riders head coach Anthony Reasbeck said, moments after consoling some of his players in left field.
''They gave me the best three months of my life. It's tough to watch them go.''
Martins Ferry led 4-2 before watching Fort Frye chip away at its lead, before finally prevailing in the eighth. It was the Purple Riders' second extra-inning contest in four days. They edged Harrison Central, 2-1, Wednesday to reach Saturday's contest, which endured a one hour, 17-minute rain delay.
''It's baseball,'' Reasbeck said. ''Sometimes, it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't.''
Fort Frye scored a run in the sixth to cut Martins Ferry's lead to 4-3. Then, in the seventh, it looked to be in trouble with a runner on second and two out.
But Colton Shuster stepped to the left and sent a Lucas Lloyd pitch to right field, driving in leadoff batter Chandler Lang from second to tie the game at 4-4, giving the Cadets new life and postponing the Purple Riders celebration.
''The kids stayed with it the whole time,'' veteran Fort Frye head coach Sonny Bidwell said. ''They did a great job of battling.''
Undaunted, Martins Ferry got the bottom of the seventh off to a good start when Brenden Baire led off with a single to right. He stole second with T.J. Jacob at the plate, but Jacob eventually struck. After Robert Vargo flied out to left for out No. 2, cleanup man Connor Coup was intentionally walked after having doubled and singled in two of three previous at bats. Ethan Baire grounded out, however, ending the threat.
Bradley Martin led off Fort Frye's eighth with a walk. Eventually, the Cadets loaded the bases, leading to Layton's game-winning walk.
''Fundamentals were a key there,'' Reasbeck said, referring to an eighth inning where the Purple Riders had one error.
Martins Ferry went down in order in the bottom of the eighth.
''Our defense made some big plays for us,'' Bidwell noted. Martins Ferry is a good team and they did a good job.''
Both pitchers performed well, too.
Fort Frye's Bradley Martin went the distance, allowing five hits and striking out six with two walks. During the final four innings he didn't allow a run and gave up three hits.
Ferry's Lucas Lloyd, who went the distance Wednesday, look the loss, fanning three and walking four. At one point, from late in the second to early in the sixth, he retired 11 straight batters.
It was during that time where the Purple Riders grabbed the lead.
Tied at 2-2, Ferry scored twice in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Seth Scott and an RBI double by Jeremy Plants.
Garrett Trudo also doubled for Ferry.
Shuster finished with two singles and an RBI for Fort Frye.