STEUBENVILLE - Down 9-0 to Buckeye Local after just an inning and a half, the Big Red baseball team looked destined to be finished by the mercy rule Tuesday at Vaccaro Field.
No one gave the boys in black and red the memo, though, as they held the Panthers to just one more run the rest of the way while scoring 13, including eight runs in the fourth frame, en route to a 13-10 comeback win.
"They came out hitting, that's for sure," said Big Red head coach Fred Heatherington. "They put up a lot of runs in the first two innings, but we just talked between innings about staying with the game plan, getting a good at bat each time you're up there, getting a good pitch to hit. We felt we could come back to win the game, and we did."
SLIDES INTO THIRD — Steubenville Big Red’s JoJo Pierro slides safely into third with a triple as Buckeye Local’s Jonathan Borkoski waits on the throw, Shane Duncan looks on and Chase Hopkins backs up the play Tuesday at Vaccaro Field during Big Red’s comeback 13-10 win.
-- Fred Younce
The Panthers jumped out of the gates quickly with a three-run first highlighted by starting pitcher Chase Hopkins' solo home run. Also in the frame, Austin Marshall had a triple, Josh Malesky a sacrifice fly, Jonathan Borkoski a double and Brian Zeroski picked up an RBI single for the 3-0 count.
Six more Panthers crossed home plate in the top of the second. Runs scored on a Marshall RBI single, a Malesky single that plated two runs, a Zeroski two-run scoring double and a Corey Slaga RBI single. Buckeye Local found itself in what seemed to be firm control at 9-0 after an inning and a half.
Then the home team began to slowly turn things around.
In the bottom of the second, Big Red picked up its first run of the evening when Matt Petrella drove in Michael Camilletti on a double.
John Linn took over on the hill in the top of the third for starting pitcher Even Westlake and pitched two shutout innings to stop the Panthers' offensive onslaught.
Still down 9-1, Big Red flipped the momentum completely in the bottom of the fourth with an eight-run attack to tie the game at nine. John Linn, Lucky McClurg and Pat Pizzoferrato each had a RBI triple in the frame, with Bryan Pierro, JoJo Pierro and Camilletti each chipping in with a run-scoring single. A pair of unearned runs also crossed the plate in the frame.
"I think we got relaxed and then things started not going our way," said Buckeye Local head coach C.J. Besece. "Instead of bearing down and trying to close the flood gates we didn't. One thing led to another and I think our inexperience, our younger guys not being in that situation before, it got to them. We gave them some outs in that big inning they had. Three or four errors. You can't do it. You can't do it against good teams like that."
JoJo Pierro took over for Linn on the mound in the top of the fifth and sat the visitors down with a goose egg and allowing Big Red to continue its momentum in the bottom half of the inning.
Bryan Pierro led off with a single and McClurg attempted to push him over by laying down a bunt. Pitcher Lucas Ostovich, who entered for Hopkins in the previous frame one batter after JoJo Pierro's single ricocheted off the starter's leg, attempted to force Bryan Pierro at second but the throw was late. This set up JoJo Pierro with two on and the senior came through with a single that plated both his brother Bryan and McClurg to give Big Red its first lead at 11-9. JoJo Pierro later scored on a Camilletti sacrifice fly to make the score 12-9 after five.
Marshall produced a Buckeye Local run with the help of an error in the top of the sixth. He hit a shot to left field that was misplayed, allowing the ball to roll to the fence. The speedy Marshall capitalized, rounding the bases on the play and scoring to make the score 12-10.
The unearned run was the only put up against against JoJo Pierro in three innings of work as he picked up the win.
"We knew if the game was close Joe was going to come in because he's been feeling pretty good armwise," said Heatherington. "We knew if we could get into the late innings we had him for relief, but John came in and did a good job. Evan threw strikes, he just threw too many strikes. They put the ball in play early and scored those runs.
"But after that, if you're a good team, you stay in the game. We didn't put our heads down. We just kept plugging away and plugging away and we had the big inning that got us back in the game."
Big Red added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on a Bryan Pierro single that brought home Petrella for the game's final score and a 13-10 Big Red victory.
Both teams are in action against today with Big Red (9-2) hosting Weir and Buckeye Local traveling to Harrison Central.
Big Red 13, Buckeye Local 10
Buckeye Local 360 001 0 - 10 10 3
Big Red 010 831 x - 13 15 7
BUCKEYE LOCAL (3-9): Hopkins (3K, 1BB), Ostovich (4th, LP, 1K, 1BB) and Slaga. Duncan S, R; Hopkins HR, RBI, 2R; Marshall T, S, RBI, 3R; Malesky S, 3RBI, R; Borkoski D, 2R; Zeroski D, S, 3RBI, R; Slaga S, RBI; Banal S.
BIG RED (9-2): Westlake (1K, 1BB), Linn (3rd, 2K, 2BB), J. Pierro (5th, WP, 4K, 0BB) and Vojvodich. B. Pierro 3S, 2RBI, 2R; McClurg T, S, RBI, 2R; J. Pierro T, 2S, 3RBI, 2R; Pizzoferrato T, RBI, R; Camilletti S, 2RBI, 2R; Vojvodich S, R; Petrella D, S, RBI, 2R; Linn T, S, RBI, R.