CAMBRIDGE - The Steubenville Catholic baseball team has a 2 p.m. date Thursday at Lancaster High School against Bainbridge Paint Valley in a regional semifinal thanks to a 6-1 victory against rival Toronto at Don Coss Field for the Ohio Division IV district championship.
"We were pretty excited coming into this game," Central senior Josh Merriman said. "We've been thinking about it since Monday (a 3-2 win against Hiland). We came prepared. We got a good round of batting practice in today and carried it to the field."
The Crusaders scored two in the bottom of the first and three in the third and starting pitcher Aleks Porreca took over, pitching a complete game four-hitter.
"When we have Aleks or Murph (Chris Murphy) or anybody on the mound, we know we have to put the bat on the ball and we have a pretty good shot," Merriman said.
In the first, Murphy was hit by a pitch and erased at second via a fielder's choice.
Stone Romano was hit by a pitch and Austin Oliver followed with a single to plate Brenton Colabella.
"We did the same thing against Hiland," Colabella said. "We came out strong and scored early. We just did a better job carrying it throughout the whole game.
"Our job is to come out and start the game with energy. If we come out and play hard and smart, we feel we can win any game."
Oliver began the third with a double. Merriman followed with a triple and Porreca doubled him home. Porreca scored on a Johnny DiCarlantonio groundout for a 5-0 lead.
"We had a couple of opportunities, but we didn't capitalize," Red Knights coach Brian Perkins said. "It just wasn't our day."
Ryan Cline ripped a two-out double in the top of the second inning to put runners on second and third, but Porreca got out of the inning with a K.
Nate Stewart and Blaze Glenn had back-to-back two-out singles an inning later, but Porreca ended the inning the same way.
Chez Glenn reached on an error in the fifth, moved to second on a pickoff attempt and scored on a Stewart base knock. Stewart was left at second.
Jarin McIntosh took the loss. He fanned five and walked three.
Porreca struck out 11 and walked three.
Central finished with seven hits - all by Oliver, Merriman and Porreca. Oliver finished with a pair of singles, a double and an RBI.
"This was a pure team win," Crusaders coach Don Young said. "Everyone contributed in some way.
"We've had our struggles scoring runs this year and this time of year it gets harder and harder to score runs. I was proud of our effort."