St. C. boys takes down BL

Photo by Nick Henthorn St. Clairsville’s Brody Saunders winds up for a pitch Tuesday in the Red Devils’ sectional championship game against Buckeye Local. Saunders tossed a no-hitter in a 2-0 clinch for St. Clairsville on their home ballfield in Memorial Park.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The St. Clairsville Red Devils are sectional champions once again.

Behind a dominant outing from right-handed hurler Brody Saunders, top-seeded St. Clairsville secured their section in the Ohio Division II, East 1 District, defeating 20-seed Buckeye Local 2-0.

Saunders was sensational on the mound, pitching a no-hitter, his second of the season.

“Saunders did a great job,” St. Clairsville head coach Tom Sliva said. “Once he got into a rhythm after the first inning he settled in and he was in control. He did an outstanding, outstanding job.”

Saunders struck out 11 batters in a dominant showing.

“He threw the ball really well,” Buckeye Local head coach Jeff Patrick said. “He has good velo, he located in the zone with three pitches, curveball, fastball, slider. They did a good job defending behind him, we couldn’t get any breaks to go our way. They’re a good baseball team, they’re the first seed in the district for a reason.”

Buckeye Local starting pitcher Gavyn Romanyak was no slouch himself Tuesday, going the distance while striking out three, allowing only four hits and two walks.

“We knew it was going to be a good ballgame after scouting them a couple times,” Sliva said of Buckeye Local. “[Romanyak] did a great job of keeping us off-balance, keeping the ball outside. We struggled with having good at-bats.”

St. Clairsville managed to plate two runs five innings apart, scoring one in the second inning and one in the sixth.

Mason Myers accounted for both runs by the Red Devils. The senior had two hits, including a sixth-inning leadoff triple.

The senior is a welcome late-season addition to his team.

“It’s important having him back,” Sliva said. “He’d missed all the season, this is about his eighth game since coming back from a broken wrist. He was the catalyst today, that’s for sure.”

In the second inning, Myers singled to get aboard with nobody out. St. Clairsville loaded the bases, and with one out Micky Balgo was struck by a pitch to bring Myers in. Romanyak managed to get out of the inning without any further damage though.

In the sixth, Myers rocked a triple to the left-center gap, and used his speed to reach third standing up. Caleb Keenan lifted a ball to deep left field two at-bats later, the sacrifice fly allowing Myers to cross the plate for the second time.

The two run deficit was twice as much as necessary for St. Clairsville though, as Saunders got through the top of the seventh in four batters, the only traffic being one of his three issued walks on the day.

The Panthers’ season comes to an end after defeating John Glenn earlier in sectionals. It had been the continuation of a turnaround for Buckeye Local after a rough start to the season.

“This year we kind of struggled early, we won our opener and then we lost 10 straight,” Patrick said. “If we play better through that stretch we probably don’t get stuck with playing St. C in the sectional championship, maybe we get a more favorable draw.

“But when it came down to the last three or four weeks of the season we started playing a lot better– better at-bats, better pitching, better fielding. It just stinks that we were seeded so low that we had to play a team of this caliber.”

Next up for St. Clairsville will be 10th-seeded West Holmes, who defeated seventh-seeded Cambridge 7-2 Tuesday. The two are set to play next Wednesday.

“Tournament baseball’s tough when you’re one-and-done,” Sliva said. “Very little room for error, most games there’s no room for error. You’ve got to come ready to play every day.”

“I hope we come ready, stay hungry, and get back to work tomorrow.”

As for the Panthers, they wave farewell to four seniors– Jacob Berry, Skyler Ebright, Gavyn Romanyak and Thomas Beranek.

“This is my first group of kids, so it’s tough,” Patrick said of his senior class, the first that he’s seen through all four years. “They mean a lot. When I got hired I was 23, didn’t know anyone, and these kids bought in. They played for the program, and I’m going to miss the crap out of them. It’s sad to see Skyler, Gav, Jake and Thomas go. It’s really tough.”

“The four seniors really bought in when they were 14, 15-year old freshmen with a new young head coach. I appreciate them and their parents more than words can really describe. They have been a huge part of our program.”


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