Undefeated Red Devils score shutout win over Monarchs

Photo by Kim North St. Clairsville catcher Marcus Bush receives a throw Friday against visiting John Marshall on the Memorial Park diamond.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — When a baseball team receives a gutsy complete game on the mound; plays flawless defense and gets timely hitting, it can be hard to beat. St. Clairsville excelled in all three of those facets Friday in a 6-0 blanking of visiting John Marshall on the cloud-covered Memorial Park diamond.

With the victory, the Red Devils improved to a spotless 12-0 and cap a week which also saw them beat Martins Ferry and Wheeling Park, both 11-1 in five innings. They led Union Local 9-6 on Wednesday in Morristown with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning when the game was suspended due to lightning. It will be completed Monday in St. Clairsville around 4:45, with the regularly scheduled contest to follow.

“I just told the boys how proud of them I am for coming up clutch in those situations. The opposition is thinking they are one pitch from getting out of the inning, but those (two-out) hits are huge,” veteran St. Clairsville head coach Tom Sliva said. “I know when we are on defense, it’s deflating. Those (hits) are big pick-me-ups.”

St. Clairsville continued to do the little things that good teams do, like score runs with two outs, get hits with two outs and hit the ball with two strikes. All of the Red Devils’ runs came with two out. Six of their nine hits came with two outs, and three of those hits came when the batter had two strikes.

A perfectly executed bunt single down the third base line with two outs in the bottom of the third by No. 9 hitter Rowyn Mellott ignited a quick four-run outburst and that was more than enough support for Mikey Balgo. Braylen Blomquist drilled the first pitch he saw from Isaac Koontz to right for a double. Marcus Bush also jumped on the first pitch, sending it back up the middle as Mellott and Blomquist scored. Hunter Hoffman worked a 3-2 walk and Balgo was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Brody Saunders lined the first pitch he saw into left as Bush and Hoffman raced home for a 4-0 lead.

“That bunt by Mellott with two outs got us going, and then we followed it up with a couple more clutch hits,” Sliva recalled. “That’s awesome and I’m very proud of them for that.”

“That got some timely hits. We were ahead in a couple of the counts, but they put the ball in play,” John Marshall (9-12) head coach Mark Cisar said. “They don’t strike out. They do a good job of putting the ball in play and making you make plays on defense.”

Mellott and Blomquist had back-to-back RBI singles in the fourth with two outs to cap the scoring. Both finished with multiple-hit games.

Balgo, a rangy righthander, struck out seven – five of those looking – and walked three in throwing 99 pitches, of which 56 were strikes. He worked his way out of two jams – one with the bases loaded and one out in the second – and the other in the seventh when double-play ground balls.

“He did really well. He’s just learning the position,” Sliva explained. “He’s got a lot of ability

John Marshall had the sacks full when Hayden Hughes bounced to Niko Jacob at third. He threw to Bush at the plate to force Koontz and then relayed to Hoffman at first, who made a nice stretch, to complete the rally killer. With runners on second and third in the seventh and just one out, Balgo induced a grounder to the sure-handed Blomquist at short. He flipped to Saunders at second who threw onto Hoffman for the other DP.

John Marshall stranded as many runners as it had hits.

Hughes singled twice for the Monarchs, who travel to Wheeling Park on Monday. Mason Markonich doubled.

Koontz was the tough-luck loser in his first start of the season.

“I’m really pleased with what I saw from Isaac,” Cisar stressed. “He hasn’t thrown since the very first week of the season. I think he got a little fatigued there (in the third) in his first time back on the mound. He threw a lot of strikes for us.

“Balgo threw the ball great for them,” Cisar added. “We had the bases loaded there in the second and rolled into a double play. That was huge.”


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