Barton roars past Maynard to advance
CRESCENT — When a team comes ready to play, there’s not much that can stop it. That’s exactly what happened Monday night as Barton excelled in all three phases in advancing to the Ohio Valley Baseball League championship finals for the third straight summer.
The top-seeded Braves (15-6) used Anthony Zorne’s red-hot bat early and Nicky Zorne’s left arm the entire contest as they ran away from No. 4 Maynard, 12-3, in Game 3 of their best-of-3 semifinal series on Pramesa Park’s Henning Field.
“I think we played with an attitude yesterday (Sunday) and tonight. We played with the mentality that we weren’t going to get beat,” veteran Barton manager Billy Timko said. “It’s hard to beat a team when it plays like we did tonight.”
With the victory, Barton will seek its second title in three seasons as it defeated the Wheeling Cardinals in 2018 before falling last summer. The Braves will meet third-seeded Weirton which swept its semifinal series with No. 2 Moundsville by scores of 6-4 and 8-4.
Game 1 of the best-of-7 format will be played Wednesday in Crescent, with Game 2 Friday at Edwin Bowman Field in downtown Weirton. Both games will have 6 p.m. first pitches. Game 3 will return to Belmont County on Sunday at 1 p.m., with Game 4, if necessary, back in the Mountain State on Monday, July 20 at 6. Should a Game 5 be needed, it would be played Wednesday, July 22, at 6 in Crescent.
After Nicky Zorne surrendered a run in the top of the first inning when Hunter Westlake plated Eric Banal with a sacrifice fly, his older brother bailed him out in the bottom of the frame.
With a pair of teammates aboard, Anthony Zorne fouled off four consecutive pitches before curling the next Chris McIntyre offering around the rightfield foul pole for a three-run homer, his second roundtripper and seventh RBI in two days.
“I was waiting on his fastball. I’ve seen him about five times this summer so I kind of knew what he had pitch-wise,” Anthony Zorne said. “Then he brought me one right down the middle and I got lucky and barreled it up.”
“That was huge. That definitely brought a lot of momentum to us,” Nicky Zorne said. “That home run kind of set the tone for what was to come.”
“Even with his hamstring hurt he can still hit the ball,” Timko said of Anthony Zorne, a left-handed slugger who missed a good portion of the early season with the injury. “He’s got hot for us at the right time.”
Nicky Zorne threw 94 pitches, with 74 being strikes. He struck out four, walked just one and scattered 10 hits. He fired a first-pitch strike to 25 of the 31 batters he faced.
“In his last outing Nicky threw 40 pitches in three innings and said he was done but today I couldn’t have yanked him off the mound,” Timko said. “He wasn’t coming out.”
“I felt great today. My changeup was my go-to pitch,” Nicky Zorne said.
Colton Coss paced Barton’s 12-hit attack with three singles and a sacrifice fly that produced two runs. The Brothers Zorne weren’t the only former Steubenville Big Red products to shine as Ryan Bernard drove in three runs with a two-run single in a three-run fifth and sacrifice fly in a four-run sixth, while Niko Petrides had a pair of singles. Dmitri Collaros singled and scored twice.
“They got up on us early and they made some good plays in the field,” Maynard player/manager David Vicker said. “It seemed like everything they hit today found a hole.”
The Braves were just as strong in the field as at the plate.
“Our middle infield of Colton and Dmitri is quite a pair defensively,” Timko said after watching the Braves turn three double plays in the final four innings. “Kade (Blomquist) was amazing at third base tonight.”
Timko also had praise for McIntyre who had blanked the Braves (3-0) in Game 1 on Thursday.
“Chris pitched his heart out. He didn’t have much left on three days rest but he gave it all he had,” Timko said of McIntyre.
Banal singled twice, doubled, drove in a run and scored one for the Indians (6-15). Matthew Busby, B.A. Holloway and Cory Kotopka all had two singles. Tyler Ramsay hit a solo homer in the sixth.
Weirton 6, Jefferson County Elite A 2, 9 inn.
AT MINGO JUNCTION, the Bobcats tuned up for Wednesday’s championship opener by scoring four runs in the top of the ninth.
Zack Hartman drove in two runs with a pair of singles for Weirton. Joe Nave had a two-run single and Adam Cowden accounted for a run with a sacrifice fly. Larry Bielewski singled and doubled.
Clayton Criss had two singles and an RBI for JCE. Quinn McCoy had a double.