WEIRTON - Good pitching will beat good hitting a good percentage of the time.
That was such the case here Monday night as Steven Buffo tossed a two-hit shutout and Weirton remained alive in the Steele and Cook Insurance Ohio Valley Baseball League's championship series with a 2-0 blanking of Maynard in Game 3 on the Edwin J. Bowman Field diamond in Hancock County.
With the victory, the third-seeded Red Dons (20-9) and Maynard (21-9) will meet tonight in Game 4 on the Firemen's Field diamond at the Community Park in Belmont County. The first pitch is set for 6. Maynard holds a 2-1 edge in the best-of-5 format
T-L Photo/KIM NORTH
MAYNARD’S Cory Kotopka dives back into first base safely on a pickoff attempt Monday night in Game 3 of the Steele and Cook Ohio Valley Baseball League’s championship series in Weirton. The Red Dons prevailed, 2-0, to force a Game 4 tonight in Maynard at 6.
Buffo, a crafty lefty and holdover from the 2011 champions, allowed a pair of harmless infield singles. He struck out three and walked seven, but was the beneficiary of a trio of double plays.
"We went with the wily veteran tonight and he came through for us," Weirton player/manager Rudy Nagy said. "We needed a good pitching effort and he gave it to us."
The setback spoiled a splendid pitching performance by Maynard's Greyson Loweecy. He hurled six innings, fanning four and walking three. He retired 11 in a row from the first through the fourth innings and was still working on a no-no.
However, Darrin Heatherington's single to right-center leading off the fifth inning sent the no-hitter by the wayside. Logan Linder then walked and Sammy Orr executed the sacrifice bunt to perfection as both runners moved up 90 feet. Chris Perna sent an 0-2 pitch to shallow right that plated both runners.
"Greyson pitched well enough to win," Maynard manager Laney Simone Sr. admitted. "We just didn't score any runs for him. For some reason, we didn't hit the ball tonight."
Buffo had a lot to do with that. He didn't allow a ball to reach the outfield grass, recording 15 groundball outs, including half-a-dozen comebackers. On two of those, he turned them into twin killings - in the first and third. The other DP came in the sixth.
"Our defense played well, but you got to hand it to Steven because he was making them hit his pitches," Nagy said. "He pitched a really smart game."
Maynard only threatened to score once, that coming in the fourth when Max Schimmel drew a two-out walk and went to second on a wild pitch. Ryan Jarvie's infield single to the left side of the infield moved Schimmel to third, but Buffo got an inning-ending strikeout. Maynard also got a runner to third in the fifth, but no further.
The visitors did threaten again in the seventh when Jarvie and Michael Androsko drew back-to-back walks that sent Buffo to leftfield in favor of Logan Linder. Linder got a pair of fielder's choice grounders and struck out a batter to send things to tonight.
"In the beginning of the game, maybe the second or third inning, we had some bad baserunning that could've possibly helped us avoid one of those double plays," Simone recalled. "Give Weirton credit though. They were down 2-0 (in the series) and had their heads up and play. We didn't.
"We can't play two aspects of the game and expect to win without hitting," he added. "Hitting is the name of the game. You don't hit, you can't score runs or do anything."
Neither team committed an error.
Heatherington had two singles.