Martins Ferry has found the ingredients for successful baseball.
Good pitching and sound defense are needed in large quantities.
The last two days the Purple Riders have received an abundance of both and it's resulted in back-to-back shutouts.
The homestanding Riders ran their scoreless streak to 18 innings with a convincing 6-0 victory against Barnesville (3-9) high atop the Purple City just before the inclement weather arrived.
"We've been playing great defense most of the season, but early in the season, we were just walking too many guys," said Ferry head coach Anthony Reasbeck. "We've cut down on our walks and that's equaled wins for us."
Senior Andrew Chlon was absolutely lights out on the hill for the Purple Riders. He allowed just two hits, walked two and fanned nine in a complete-game effort.
"That was probably the best outing of Andrew's career," Reasbeck said. "He's really not pitched as often as we would have liked because we couldn't afford to take him off shortstop. He's got a good fast ball, good off-speed stuff and he threw a lot of strikes."
Continually working ahead in the count with great command of his pitches, Chlon didn't allow a Shamrocks' runner to third base all afternoon.
"No matter how well (Chlon) pitches, we made six errors, only had two hits and struck out too many times and those things just won't you ball games," said Barnesville head coach D.J. Butler. "I'll take the blame again for not having the team ready to play as soon as we stepped off the bus."
The Riders' offense, which by no means hit the ball all over the yard against impressive Shamrocks' frosh Dylan Burkhart, who pitched well enough to deserve a better fate.
Ferry (7-6) manufactured a run in the third. Brenden Baire - the Riders' ninth hitter - led off with a single. Ethan Baire then dropped down a beautiful sacrifice bunt. Marcus Sutton then drove a base hit into right center, bringing Baire around with the game's first run.
With Chlon in the groove, the Riders struck four more times in the fifth. Chlon and Tyler Strama produced back-to-back singles with one out and Butler called for Robert Vargo to be walked intentionally, loading the bases.
The move appeared to have worked like a charm. However, the throw to the plate for the force out after Burkhart enduced a ground ball was wild, allowing a run to score.
"We've had trouble breaking through at times when we've gotten runners into scoring position, but today we were able to, and we needed that," Reasbeck said.
After Strama had come around to score, Ferry catcher Seth Scott, who was the winning pitcher Monday against Edison, lined a two-run single into right center.
"I don't know if we're hitting our stride or not to be honest," Reasbeck said. "This team could possibly go out tomorrow and get 10-runed. I've seen it before. I hope, though, we are starting to find a level of consistency in all facets of our play."
Chlon drove in the game's final run with a single in the sixth. He led the way with two hits.
Barnesville got one hit apiece from Dylan MacMillan and Collin Wilson.
Both clubs are scheduled for action again today. Barnesville visits Shadyside, while Martins Ferry seeks to complete the season sweep over Edison at Jefferson Lake State Park.
Barnesville 000 000 0 - 0 2 5
Martins Ferry 001 041 x - 6 6 0
Batteries: Burkhart, Huntsman (7) and Pritchard. Chlon and Scott.
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com