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St. Clairsville blanks Bellaire, 4-0

Photo/KRISTIN MAZGAJ ST. CLAIRSVILLE first baseman Luke Jozwiak applies a tag to Bellaire’s Vince Patrone for an out during Friday’s game at Memorial Park. The Red Devils posted a 4-0 victory against the Big Reds.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The first inning proved the difference for St. Clairsville Friday afternoon.

The Red Devils tallied all four of their runs in the initial frame in blanking Bellaire, 4-0, at cold and windy Memorial Park. It marked St. Clairsville’s second win in three days against the Big Reds, posting a 7-2 nod Wednesday at Neffs.

The Red Devils managed just four hits in Friday’s contest. However, coach Tom Sliva’s well-drilled charges received superb combined pitching from Zac Vickers and Drew Sefsick to bag their eighth win in 12 starts.

“I thought our pitching was excellent today. Both Zac and Drew were sharp,” Sliva said. “I was also happy with our defense. We supported our pitcher well in the field.

“So we won two out of three phases of the game. We didn’t do much with the bats after the first inning,” added the Hall of Fame coach. “But give (Vince) Patrone credit. He pitched well.”

Patrone went the distance for the Big Reds, yielding only one hit after the first inning. He struck out six and walked five.

St. Clairsville’s four-run first frame came after its first two batters were retired.

Senior standout Will Balgo slammed a double to ignite the outburst. He scored on a Luke Jozwiak single.

Sefsick and Mason Myers each drew walks to load the bases. Junior Austin Porter doubled to right field, plating all three Red Devils for a 4-0 reading.

St. Clairsville staged only one other scoring threat the balance of the game, that coming in the third inning.

Jozwiak and Myers coaxed walks with one out. After a strikeout, freshman Hunter Hoffman also drew a base-on balls to load the sacks. However, Patrone rang up another strikeout to end the threat.

Vickers worked the first three innings on the hill for the hosts. The sophomore righthander fanned two and didn’t issue a pass. Sefsick entered in the fourth and pitched impressively the remainder of the game. The scrappy junior struck out three and issued no walks.

Bellaire mounted just one serious scoring push.

Jakob Dowling, Chance Maffe and Jake Heatherington opened the Big Reds’ fourth with successive singles. The threat unraveled, however, as two base running blunders resulted in outs at the plate and second base, respectively. Sefsick closed the frame with a strikeout.

“One bad inning cost us. But that is all it takes sometimes,” Bellaire coach Josh Kernik said. “Vince pitched a very good game. He was exceptional after the first inning.

“Our base running cost us in the fourth. We had a chance for a big inning,” he added. “We are a really young team but we have all the stuff we need. It is just a matter of putting it all together.”

Bellaire is now 1-8 and will face Union Local Monday.

“It wasn’t a work of art but it is a win nonetheless. Our bats were a little quiet today,” Sliva said. “But we are still playing shorthanded. Our pitching depth really helped this week.”

St. Clairsville has two starters sidelined due to Coronavirus protocols. They are slated to return Monday when Sliva takes his Red Devils to Brooke.

Maffe had two of Bellaire’s six hits.

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