Shadyside denied in 2A baseball

SHADYSIDE — The old adage of it’s hard to beat a team three times rang true for Shadyside’s top-seeded Tigers in Monday’s OVAC Class 2A semifinal contest with Catholic Central.

The fourth-seeded Crusaders rode a gutsy pitching performance from senior Matt Bell, some timely hitting and a couple of defensive gems to a 9-3 victory at sun-splashed Fleming Field.

With the win, Don Young’s club, which dropped two regular season games to the Tigers, advance to the Class 2A championship game against third-seeded Toronto, which dispatched Wheeling Central, 7-5, in nine innings on Monday.

“I’m real happy with this win against a quality team like Shadyside,” Young said after watching his Crusaders improve to 9-5. “We played a good game and did a lot of good things. At the same, we made a lot of mistakes that we have to shore up going forward.

“It goes back to expectations. My expectations, at times, seem to be a lot higher than I believe the expectations of my players are.”

Central took the lead for good with three runs in the second. Ryan Gorman and Jayden Keeder drew walks off losing pitcher Collin Holmes. Anthony Sprochi then delivered a two-run single. He would score on Noah Fayak’s double to center.

The score moved to 4-0 in the third when Dom Argentine led off with a triple to left. Bell earned a free pass, and Argentine touched home thanks to a Shadyside throwing error on an attempted pickoff at first.

Luca Connor’s RBI single and another Shadyside miscue allowed Young’s club to go up 6-0 in the top of the fourth. Shadyside got on the board in the home half of the frame when Kelly Hendershot delivered a run-scoring triple to left-center.

The Crusaders added three more in the sixth thanks to another Connor hit and Argentine’s two-run single. The Tigers completed the scoring on RBIs from Ryan Florence and Mason VanNest.

Bell worked six innings, scattering seven hits and fanning six. He got plenty of help from his defense. VanNest led off the Shadyside fifth with a double to center. He was cut down at third thanks to an outstanding relay throw from Connor to Anthony Simmons. First baseman Paul Carapellotti dug a throw out of the dirt in the fifth to help keep Shadyside’s leadoff man off base.

“He battled all night,” Young said of Bell. “That’s a real good team, and we lost to them twice. He held them in check. We knew they would get some hits off him, but I was proud of the way he battled the whole game.”

Nick Kissinger worked the seventh for Central.

Fayak led Central’s nine-hit attack with two doubles and a single. Argentine, Connor and Sprochi all finished with two hits apiece.

“Early on, we were pretty focused at the plate,” Young said. “The sixth inning really was a key for us. Being able to add three runs to our lead was huge.”

Central’s cause was aided by five Shadyside errors and six walks. In addition, the Crusaders dodged a bullet in the seventh thanks to a Tiger base running mistake.

“It seemed like everything that could go wrong for us today went wrong for us,” Shadyside coach Shawn Selmon said. “You can’t play a team like Steubenville Central in a big game like this and not do the things right that you need to do.”

VanNest led Shadyside’s offense with a double and a single. Anthony Coggins also doubled. The Tigers, now 14-3, stranded eight base runners.

“It’s been a thing we have struggled with all year,” Selmon said. “We get guys in scoring position with less than two outs, and we have been unable to move them. That’s been one of our downfalls all year. Once we figure that out, we’ll be a little bit better team. We’re a good baseball team right now — we’re not a great baseball team.”

UP NEXT

Catholic Central: Scheduled to host Edison today in a battle of OVAC finalists. The Wildcats advanced to the Class 4A final with their win Saturday over Cambridge.

“It doesn’t get any easier for us,” Young said.

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