St. Clairsville ousts Dover

CADIZ — Ron Hummel has said all season that if his team hits the ball, it can play with anyone.

Second-seeded St. Clairsville pounded out 11 hits and scored double-digit runs in eliminating No. 13 Dover, 10-6, Tuesday night in a Division II Eastern District Tournament semifinal at the overcast Cravat Coal Complex high atop Sally Buffalo Park.

The 20th triumph of the season in 23 starts advances the Red Devils into Thursday’s district championship game against top-seeded River View, which slipped past No. 3 Indian Valley, 3-2, last night. That contest will be played at City Park in Cambridge at 5 p.m.

“The girls battled and battled,” Hummel said. “It was important to get ahead early, and if you take away an error in the third, we might have been able to break it open.”

Hot-hitting Bree Bennington continued her torrid streak when she slugged a 3-2 pitch well over the fence in left with one out and Taylor Gallentine on base to give the designated hosts a 2-0 advantage.

“Bree continues to stroke the ball,” Hummel said. “She has been red-hot for us of late.” Bennington also had the game-winning hit against Steubenville in the co-sectional final last week.

Taylor Toothman, the No. 9 hitter in the Red Devils order, lined a two-run double to the gap in right-center to highlight a four-run second. Maddy Vickers added a sacrifice fly and Bennington sent a soft liner over short that knocked in the sixth tally.

The Tornadoes (16-10) finally broke through against Amaya Smith in the third. After walking the leadoff hitter of the game, Smith, a St. Francis (Pa.) recruit, retired the next eight Dover batters until Hayden Johnson singled sharply off Bennington’s glove at third with two out. Sara Wauthier doubled to left-center, but Abby Warther’s infield grounder was booted as both runners scored.

St. Clairsville got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning when Smith belted a solo homer deep down the left field line for a 7-2 advantage. The roundtripper also ended Trinity Thompson’s day inside the circle.

A three-run fourth bumped the count to 10-2 as Ari Reager singled in one and Jenn Jaskowiak doubled in two more.

However, as the dark clouds started to roll in, the Tornadoes tallied four times on a like number of hits in the fifth to creep to within 10-6. However, that would be as close as they would get as Smith set down six of the final seven batters.

“We had a couple of hiccups defensively and they bunched some hits together in an inning, but the girls buckled down when they had to.”

Smith finished with eight punchouts, with half of them looking. She walked two and gave up eight hits.

“Amaya did alright,” Hummel noted. “She had a couple of rough innings, but other than that, she was pretty good.”

Gallentine, Bennington, Reager and Smith all had two hits each. Six different players drove in runs and all but two starters had safeties.

After advancing to the regional semifinals two years ago, the Red Devils was ousted in the opening round of the sectional a season ago by Claymont.

“I think the girls kind of remember what happened last year and they want to make up for it this season,” Hummel said.