Barton locks up fourth seed for OVBL playoffs

CRESCENT – Barton concluded a grueling six-game stretch is as many days with a 15-5 pounding of visiting Neffs Monday night here on Henning Field in Steele and Cook Insurance Ohio Valley Baseball League action.

With the victory, their fifth in that span, the Braves (14-6) finished tied with long-time rival Maynard for the fourth – and final – home playoff nod. However, Barton owns the tiebreaker by outscoring Maynard 9-5 in their to head-to-head matchups, which the two split.

The rivalry will continue Thursday when Maynard visits Barton to begin the best-of-3 first-round playoff series. The first pitch is set for 6 p.m. Neffs, which finished sixth travels to Weirton Thursday at 6 p.m.

However, the Braves had to get past the error-prone A’s Gang, whom they defeated in last year’s championship series.

Barton bolted to a quick 4-0 lead after two innings Monday night, but Neffs answered with three runs in the top of the third for a 4-3 deficit. That would be as close as the A’s Gang (10-10) would get as the Braves sent a dozen batters to the plate in the bottom of the frame, with eight of them touching home plate, as the margin ballooned to 12-3.

Anthony Rocchio and Dustin Hynes smacked two-run singles to highlight the uprising. Joel Atkinson, Nick Rocchio and Nick Koval slapped run-scoring base hits.

“We hit the ball yesterday (Sunday), but we couldn’t get the big base hit when we needed it,” Barton manager Billy Timko said. “Tonight we got some big hits with men in scoring position.

“We’re hitting the ball really well now. We’re ready for the playoffs to begin,” he added.

Neffs helped out a lot as it committed an alarming 10 errors.

“I don’t know. That’s a good question?” Neffs’ manager Colin Graham said when asked how his team can’t shake its recent woes (23 errors in last three games). “It’s a little late in the season to start practicing now.”

The A’s Gang tallied solo runs in the fourth and fifth innings, the later coming on a Clay Francis RBI single.

Koval concluded the scoring when he launched a laser well over the left field fence and deep into the trees.

Barton banged out 16 hits. Nick Rocchio and T.J. Sliva each recorded three base raps, while Jourdan Yager, Mackenzie Koehler, Koval and Atkinson all charted two safeties. Nick Rocchio, Hynes, Koehler, Koval and Anthony Rocchio knocked in two runs apiece.

Mike Muklewicz and Nick Rocchio worked the hill for the Braves. Muklewicz went the first five, striking our two and walking three. He yielded five hits and threw 88 pitches. Rocchio fanned a pair and issued one free pass.

Cliff Francis singled twice for Neffs. Derek Miller had a two-run triple when his shot to the gap in left-center popped out of Yager’s glove when he hit the ground after making a fully-extended diving effort. Brandon Leonard had a sacrifice fly.

Matt Masarick was saddled with the loss. He struck out three and didn’t walk a batter. However, he surrendered 10 base hits.

Neffs 003 110 0 – 5 5 10

Barton 318 012 x – 15 16 4

Batteries: Masarick, Taylor (3) and Cla. Francis. Muklewicz, N. Rocchio (6) and Hynes.

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