Weirton ousts Lafferty in OVBL

WEIRTON – It was lights out here Sunday night at Edwin J. Bowman Field.

Not only did the outfield lights go out in the bottom of the third inning of the Steele and Cook Insurance Ohio Valley Baseball League of game 2 in the playoff semifinal series between the host Red Dons and Lafferty, a 6-1 loss meant lights-out for the visiting Dodgers.

With the wire-to-wire victory, third-seeded Weirton will host No. 4 Maynard Wednesday night in Game 1 of the best-of-5 championship series. The first pitch is set for 6 in the Steel City.

Lafferty, the No. 2 seed and defending runnersup, made it a habit of falling behind in the playoffs, but the Dodgers couldn’t solve Red Dons’ righthander Logan Linder while making seven errors.

“They outplayed us,” Lafferty player/manager Jordan Barbina said. “That’s the bottom line. The hit the ball and we didn’t. They made the plays and we didn’t. That’s the ballgame.”

Indeed it was.

Weirton, the 2011 champions, scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the first and added two more – one unearned – in the third in racing to a 4-0 lead.

Dom Garay’s sacrifice fly drove in the first run and Chris Perna walked with the bases loaded to make it 2-0 early on.

Garay and Darrin Heatherington, a pair of Steubenville Big Red products, started the third with back-to-back singles, and both advanced a base on a wild pitch. Perna’s shot to second was misplayed as Garay raced home, and Heatherington scored on an infield groundout for a 4-0 reading.

That was plenty for Linder, a Madonna product who went to Division I Niagara before transferring to Point Park in Pittsburgh. He struck out eight, walked three and scattered half-a-dozen hits – all to the top three batters in Lafferty’s lineup.

“It worked out well that we couldn’t use our field over the weekend (Beast of the East) because it let us get our pitching back in order,” Weirton player/manager Rudy Nagy said. “We took advantage of some mistakes by them and Logan pitched well.”

Linder lost his shutout bid in the fifth when Matt Masarick reached second on an error leading off. A wild pitch moved him to third and he scored on a two-out error. Lafferty eventually loaded the bases, but Linder got a flyball to end that threat.

The Dodgers allowed a golden scoring opportunity slip away in the top of the first. Barbina singled with one out and went to second on a passed ball. Alex Stephens ripped a shot to left, but Barbina was gunned down at the plate on a fine relay throw from Steven Buffo to Nagy to catcher Seth Fluharty.

Lafferty also had runners on first and second with two outs in the fourth, but Justin Curry’s sinking liner in right-center was snagged off the grasstop by a sliding Garay.

Two unearned runs in the sixth sealed the deal for the Red Dons. Garay picked up his second run batted in with his second sacrifice fly. He also singled twice, as did Heatherington.

Alex Stephens had a trio of one-base raps for the Dodgers. Austin Curry singled twice.

Travis Stephens took the loss. He didn’t strike out a batter and walked three. He surrendered seven hits, all coming in the first four innings.

Game 2 of the championship series will be played Friday on the Firemen’s Field diamond at the Maynard Community Park, also at 6 p.m. Game 3 is set for Weirton next Sunday at 1 p.m. If needed, Game 4 will be in Maynard Monday, with Game 5 set for Weirton on Tuesday, with both starting at 6 p.m.

GAME NOTES

The game was delayed approximately 31 minutes due to the power failure, which darkened all four sets of outfield lights.

Linder tossed 116 pitches, with 75 being strikes. Travis Stephens, meanwhile, threw 102 (68 strikes) in six innings.

Weirton 6, Lafferty 1

Lafferty 000 010 0 – 1 6 7

Weirton 202 002 x – 6 7 2

L-T. Stephens lp (0K, 3W) and Masarick; A. Curry 2S; A. Stephens 3S

W-Linder wp (8K, 3W) and Fluharty; Garay 2S, 2SF, 2rbi; Heatherington 2S; Ashmead rbi; Perna rbi

North can be reached at knorth@timesleaderonline.com