Maynard seizes control
By KIM NORTH
Times Leader Sports Writer
WEIRTON – Not too long ago, Maynard manager Laney Simone Sr. thought his team was starting to reach its potential.
Wednesday night on sun-soaked Edwin J. Bowman Field, Simone’s defending champions (20-8) took a giant step towards repeating their title with a convincing, 8-3, triumph over Weirton in Game 1 of the Steele and Cook Insurance Ohio Valley Baseball League championship series.
The best-of-5 format shifts back to Belmont County as Game 2 is set for Friday night on the Firemen’s Field diamond at the Community Park in Maynard. The first pitch is slated for 6. Game 3 is Sunday in Weirton at 1 p.m., with Game 4, if needed, Monday in Maynard. A deciding Game 5, if necessary, will be played Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Weirton.
“This feels good,” Simone said after the rather easy victory. “There’s two more wins to go, and right now we’re on the positive end of this. I just hope we continue to play at the level that we’ve been playing.
“All three of the main aspects of the game we played really decent in tonight,” Simone said of defense, offense and pitching. “We just need to continue that.”
After spotting the third-seeded Red Dons (19-8) a 1-0 lead after two frames, Maynard sent eight batters to the plate in the top of the third, with five recording base hits and three scoring. Of the safeties, three were doubles.
Cory Kotopka singled leading off and was sacrificed to second by Cody Hudson. D.J. Busby ripped the first pitch he saw to right-center for a run-scoring double. Mark Cisar followed with an RBI double off the base of the fence in left to make it 2-0. Max Schimmel’s two-out single up the middle moved Cisar to third, and he easily scored on Ryan Jarvie’s two-bagger over the head of the rightfielder.
Logan Hudson did what good pitchers do, after his teammates got him some run support, he went out and tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the third.
Busby’s bad-hop triple to left-center in the fourth chased home Kotopka, who had walked with one out, for a 4-1 reading.
Weirton threatened in the bottom of the fourth with two outs, but L. Hudson was able to work his way out of trouble by striking out Logan Linder to end the threat.
“I just needed to settle in,” Hudson, a Shadyside grad and Wheeling Jesuit senior-to-be, said. “It’s tough when you come here because the strike zone varies so much, but we made it through it and we’re headed back to Maynard for Game 2.”
Michael Androsko’s RBI single with one out in the fifth knocked in Schimmel to bump the margin to 5-1.
That was plenty for L. Hudson, who struck out seven and walked two. He scattered seven hits and threw 111 pitches (68 strikes). He also retired the red Dons in order in the fifth before giving up a pair of unearned runs in the seventh.
“Logan has been pitching very well for us,” Simone said. “He’s won some big games over the last two seasons.
“Right now we have three very good pitchers,” Simone said of L. Hudson, Cisar and Greyson Loweecy. “I’m not sure who the ace is. All of them have been doing well.”
Maynard banged out 13 hits against a pair of Weirton southpaws, with four St. Clairsville products combining for nine of those and half-a-dozen runs batted in. Jarvie led the quartet with two singles and a double that drove in two runs. Busby matched that RBI total with a double and triple. Kotopka singled and doubled to drive in a run, while Androsko had two base raps and a ribbie.
“We just didn’t come ready to play today for some reason,” Weirton player/manager Rudy Nagy admitted. “But it’s a long series and we’ll bounce back.”
Losing pitcher Darrin Heatherington and Greg Ashmead each singled twice for Weirton, with Ashmead knocking in a run. Nagy had a run-scoring single. Heatherington charted four Ks and a pair of base-on-balls, while Tori Fuscardo fanned three without a walk in relief.
The game took 1-hour, 57-minutes to play.
Maynard has now won five consecutive games in the playoffs, dating back to the quarterfinals. It has also won four straight championship series contests.
Schimmel earned the game’s No. 1 web gem with his snag of a popup in shallow rightfield while tumbling to the ground that ended the game. No. 2 went to B.A. Holloway in center with be made a leaping grab near the fence. The third gem also goes to a Maynard outfielder, Cody Hudson for his shoetop catch down the rightfield line with two outs and a runner on in the first.
Friday’s pitching matchup has Linder, a Madonna grad who went to Niagara University before transferring to Point Park University in Pittsburgh, against Cisar, who is tough every time he takes the mound.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org