Harrison rallies to stun St. Clairsville
CADIZ – Some wins are just more satisfying than others.
Harrison Central’s come-from-behind 6-5 victory over St. Clairsville Saturday afternoon was extra sweet for the Huskies.
Head coach Mike Valesko’s charges trailed 5-2 heading into their final at-bats. The Red Devils built their three-run edge despite garnering just one hit on the sunny but chilly afternoon.
Amazingly, the Huskies plated their winning run on a strikeout.
Harrison Central started the decisive seventh frame rally when its first two batters reached base due to wildness. Caden Jurosko was hit-by-a-pitch before Skylar Mazeroski drew a walk. After a popout, sophomore catcher Treston Nemeth singled to load the bases.
Akron University basketball recruit Kobe Mitchell unloaded a deep shot to center, good for a double while plating a pair of Huskies. However, a game-tying runner was tagged out at home on the play.
Junior Caleb Blawut, who went the distance for the mound win, singled in Mitchell to knot the affair at 5-all. Sam Santille drew a walk.
St. Clairsville ace Tyler Tonkovich fanned the next batter for what should have been the third out and forcing extra innings. The pitch got past the catcher, however, and the subsequent throw to first base was wild, enabling the game-winning run to come home.
“What a wild game. St. Clairsville had a chance to win with only one hit,” Valesko said. “And our seventh inning was amazing. We got a group of kids who never quit.”
The win was the third in four starts for the Huskies. The lone blemish came at the hands of reigning state champion Toronto on Friday.
“This was a big win as St. Clairsville is our rival. They always have a strong team,” Valesko added. “But it was also a nice way to bounce back from the Toronto game. We let an 8-3 lead against them get away.
“We must do a better job, however, of fielding. They scored five runs on just one hit. That says a lot about how we played defensively,” added the affable mentor. “But give our kids credit. They battled till the end and turned what looked like a loss into a nice win.”
Harrison Central struck for two runs in the first inning.
Mazeroski opened with a single and was bunted to second by Trevor Carman. Nemeth, Blawut and Santille all delivered singles to stake the hosts to a 2-0 lead.
St. Clairsville tied matters in the third inning, nary a hit. Three base-on-balls and two Huskie errors yield a pair of tallies.
The Red Devils came right back in the fourth to plate three more runs.
After a groundout, junior Drew Sefsick was hit by a pitch. Two Harrison miscues produced two St. C. runs. A Tonkovich single was followed by a third Huskies error, making it a 5-2 Red Devil advantage, setting the stage for Harrison’s seventh-inning heroics.
Blawut, despite, some shoddy defensive support, was solid on the hill. The talented righthander struck out five and walked four.
“It’s tough to win a game when you only get one hit. We had our chances to blow the game open,” St. Clairsville boss Tom Sliva said. “We had some base running mistakes that hurt us, and it is tough to lose a game on a strikeout but we had a similar situation against Dover.
“Hoffman (Hunter) pitched well after he settled down. He handled himself well for a freshman,” the Hall of Fame coach added. “It is a frustrating loss to say the least.”
The Red Devils, coming off a state Final Four berth two years ago, are now 1-2. St. C., which features three freshmen in its starting lineup, takes on Martins Ferry Monday.
Hoffman worked the first five innings. He struck out six and fanned three. Sefsick pitched the sixth and started the seventh before yielding the ball to Tonkovich.
Harrison Central takes on East Liverpool Monday.