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Barton one win away from another OVBL title

Weirton needs win tonight to remain alive in best-of-5

CRESCENT — As it did in its Ohio Valley Baseball League semifinals series against rival Maynard, Barton has bounced back with two victories after losing the opening game of the championship series with Weirton.

Sunday in Game 3 of the best-of-5 format, Nicky Zorne turned in another complete-game effort on the mound and the top-seeded Braves (17-7) took a 2-1 edge in the series with a 5-1 victory over the third-seeded Bobcats (12-11) on Henning Field inside Pramesa Park. Barton can wrap up its second title in three summers tonight in Game 4 at Weirton’s Edwin Bowman Field. The first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. A win by Weirton would force a winner-take-all contest Wednesday night at 6 back in Crescent.

“Nicky Zorne is a bulldog. This is the second time in less than a week that has thrown over 100 pitches in a game,” veteran Barton manager Billy Timko said. “When he gets the lead he doesn’t want to come off the mound.”

The southpaw fanned four, walked only one and scattered eight hits. He threw 104 pitches, with 70 in the strike zone.

“Back-to-back games with 100-plus pitches, but I feel good,” the Steubenville High grad said. “I knew it was going to be a big game. I just wanted to come out and perform. My teammates helped me out, as well.”

It was a pitcher’s duel for the first three-and-a-half innings as both teams combined for a mere four hits. However, Barton broke it open with three runs in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to a pair of Weirton errors.

Anthony Zorne’s slow roller to the right side of the infield resulted in a single, but he scampered to second when the ball was thrown away. Ryan Bernard laid down a sacrifice bunt that was also thrown wildly to first as Zorne sped home with the first tally. After Tanner Werkmann walked, Isaac Rine bunted for a base hit to load the bases. Niko Petrides followed with a line drive single to center that plated Bernard and Werkmann for a 3-0 lead.

“I was looking for a fastball to try and drive to the outfield,” Petrides said. “He threw me my pitch, I got my hands in and turned on it.”

“They small-balled us and put pressure on our defense … we gave them three runs, but we’ll be ready to go tonight,” Weirton player/manager Jake Rosnick said.

The Bobcats finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth with some two-out lightning. Larry Bielewski singled to left and rounded the bases when Geno Pierro doubled to deep right. Pierro, however, would be thrown out at the plate on a strong throw from Eli Petho after Elijah Gillette’s single to right, ending the rally.

Barton made it 5-0 in the sixth as Dmitri Collaros and Petho recorded back-to-back RBI singles.

Neely struck out a pair while giving up eight hits before giving way to Rosnick with two outs in the inning. Neely threw 92 pitches, with 55 being strikes.

Rosnick praised the effort put forth by both starting pitchers.

“Ryan really pitched well. He probably deserved a better fate, but on the other side, Nicky spotted up and put the ball where he wanted to all day,” he said. “We just couldn’t get the ball to fall today.”

Rosnick will hand the ball to Michael Mills tonight. Barton will counter with Tyler Blomquist. Both were scheduled to start Sunday but were scratched.

Weirton last won a championship in 2011 when it was the Red Dons. Ironically, they defeated Barton.

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