St. C. is onward to Athens

• Devils win Division II district title to advance to regional

St. Clairsville head coach Tom Sliva receives his district championship medal from athletics director Kelly Rine after the Red Devils claimed the Division II Eastern District title Wednesday against Meadowbrook.

UHRICHSVILLE — St. Clairsville capped its two-game swing through the Eastern District East 2 bracket in Tuscarawas County Wednesday night with a convincing, 13-3, rout of fourth-seeded Meadowbrook on the Claymont High School diamond.

With the revenge-filled triumph, the No. 5-seeded Red Devils (18-10), punched their ticket to the Region 7 Tournament on Thursday, May 30, at 2 p.m. against The Plains Athens, the No. 2 seed, a 5-4 winner over eighth-seeded Vincent Warren in the Athens Regional Wednesday, at Bob Wren Stadium on the campus of Ohio University. The Colts (21-9) had prevailed in an OVAC Class 4A semifinal earlier this season.

“This feels really good. We’ve got a good group of seniors. I’m happy for them,” veteran St. Clairsville head coach Tom Sliva said as his squad held a tempered celebration. “We’ve still got some goals ahead of us. We just don’t want to he happy with making it to the regional, we want to go down there and see if we can win a game or two and make a name for ourselves.”

In the other half of the bracket, fifth-seeded Newark Licking Valley defeated top-seeded Col. Bishop Hartley, 5-0, for the Central District championship and will meet No. 3 seed Steubenville, which claimed the East District East 1 title with a 10-0 romp of second-seeded Gnadenhutten Indian Valley. Those winners play at 5 p.m. on May 30, with the regional final slated for Friday, May 31, at 5 p.m. The victor moves on to state tournament action at Canal Park in Akron on June 7-9.

This is St. Clairsville’s seventh trip to the regionals, but first since 2012. It’s the third under Sliva. The Red Devils own one regional title, that coming under legendary late head coach Richard “Lefty” Hall in 1997.

Kyle Storer had a lot to do with St. Clairsville’s first district title in nine seasons. The senior righthander scattered seven singles and needed just 86 pitches (59 strikes) on the mound, while he also singled twice and tripled. Oh yea, he was hit by pitches twice — once with the bases loaded — and scored three times. He also picked the leadoff runner off of first base in the third inning.

“Outstanding effort. He wasn’t happy with his last (mound) outing,” Sliva said of Storer. “He went out and fought today. He’s a battler.”

Storer also received some timely defense and was the beneficiary of a 13-hit barrage against a trio of Meadowbrook hurlers.

“You know what they say about hitting?” Sliva quizzed. “It’s contagious. That’s what happened today. Kyle got hot at the top and it carried down through the order.”

Storer said he felt good from the start.

“Not bad. My off-speed stuff was really working tonight and we mixed in a lot of curveballs,” the Red Devils No. 2 ace said. “I was hitting my spots pretty good. He (the plate umpire) wasn’t calling much low so I had to adjust and let my teammates make plays behind me.”

Peyton Drake, who made a pair of nice plays in left in the bottom of the second that kept the Colts off the scoreboard, also laced a trio of singles from the No. 5 hole that produced two runs. Sophomore first baseman Wil Balgo singled, doubled and plated a run, while junior John Luke DeFilippo added two singles and a ribbie.

DeFilippo also made his presence felt defensively at second base where he turned not one, but two, double plays on groundballs off the bat of Hunter Yerian in the fourth and sixth frames. He also handled three popups flawlessly and recorded a putout. Not bad for a player that didn’t start the season in the starting lineup.

“I just go out and play. I don’t think … I play,” he explained. “I’m just happy that my teammates trust me. I want to do my best in every game.”

After spotting Meadowbrook a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a two-out Logan Fox RBI single, St. Clairsville scored three times in the second to take a lead it would never relinquish. DeFilippo singled with one out and Derek Witsberger and Tyler Tonkovich walked to load the bases. Matthew Busby then coaxed a 3-1 base-on-balls to tie the game and Storer was hit by a pitch for the second time to force in a second. Dustin Carrothers’ fielder’s choice brought home Tonkovich.

An unearned run in the third made it 4-1 before Tonkovich capped a 5-run, 5-hit outburst in the fourth with a two-run, two-out double to deep left-center that bumped the margin to 9-1. Carrothers drove in a run in the fifth to make it 10-1 before the Colts scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth.

St. Clairsville finished things off with three runs in the seventh.

“I’m really pleased. We played pretty well in all aspects of the game,” Sliva noted. “We got outstanding pitching. We played very good defense with the exception of one stretch and a couple of tough plays, and we hit the ball throughout the order. As a coach, you can’t ask for much more than that.”

Brady Blattner had three of Meadowbrook’s hits. Boston Black had two.