STEUBENVILLE - Linsly grabbed the lead with its bats, maintained it with a couple of web gems and left Vacarro Field Friday with an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 2A championship.
The Cadets exploded for four runs in the first then added a three-spot in the second enroute to a 7-2 victory over Catholic Central.
Shortstop Alex Stephens got Linsly rolling when he ripped a run-scoring triple to deep center. Ryan Riethmiller drove home two with a double to left. Leighton Gibson accounted for the three second-inning tallies when he launched a moonshot over the fence in right.
MAKING A PLAY — Catholic Central shortstop Brenton Colabella makes a play with center fielder Brannt Pieniazek watching during Friday’s 7-2 loss to Linsly at Vaccaro Field.
-- Fred Younce
"We want to play aggressive baseball," Jay Cartwright said of his Cadets, now 19-5. "When we get pitches to hit, we want to hit them. We have experienced hitters, experienced players (the Linsly roster features 13 seniors) and we try to be aggressive but disciplined at the same time."
Linsly finished with 11 hits, eight coming in the opening two frames off losing pitcher Steve Mihalyo. To his credit, the senior Crusader hurler shook off the rough start and held the Cadets scoreless before giving way to Aleks Porreca in the fifth. The sophomore worked his way out of jams in both the fifth and the sixth.
"Their kid kept us off balance and really had that curve ball going," Cartwright added. "He shut us down after those first two innings. He made some real gutty pitches. We had him in some tight spots to maybe put them away early but he wouldn't give in."
Linsly 7, Catholic Central 2
Catholic Central 000 010 1 - 2 6 2
Linsly 430 000 x - 7 11 2
CATHOLIC CENTRAL (16-5): Mihalyo (LP, 2K, 2BB), Porreca (5, 2K, 2B) and Laukert; Panella 2S, RBI; Pieniazek S, RBI; Grandinetti S; Colabella S; Lyons S.
LINSLY (19-5): Felt (WP, 5K, 3BB, 2HB), Brinsky (6, 0K, 0BB, 1HB) and Tennant; Stephens T, 2S, RBI; Gibson HR, 3RBI; Riethmiller D, 2RBI; Williams S; Stanley S; Joseph S; Tennant S; Murray S.
Central coach Donnie Young noted Mihalyo "usually doesn't leave the ball up. They seem to like it up and we gave it to them there tonight."
"Once he settled in, he battled, I'm real proud of both those kids (Mihalyo and Porreca)," Young continued. "That's a good team."
Lefty Momo Felt started on the hill for the Cadets and held the Crusaders hitless through four innings. He also was the beneficiary of a few outstanding defensive plays.
Central had runners on first and second (both reaching via walks) in the first but the threat ended when Linsly turned a 4-6-3 double play. In the fourth, Jimmy Panella and Dave Bertoia were hit by Felt pitches. Porreca hit one hard to the right of second that appeared headed into the outfield.
Linsly second baseman Colton Coss (just a freshman) made an outstanding diving stop, flipped the ball to Stephens who then fired a perfect relay to first for another 4-6-3 twin killing.
"This is a very strong defensive team," Cartwright said. "Coss and Stephens have turned a lot of double plays. They're a great combination. It was a great play to just get to the ball, let alone turn it. You don't see that play made in high school baseball."
Adam Lyons ended Felt's run at a no-hitter when he led off the fifth with a base knock to right center. He advanced to second on an error and crossed the plate thanks to Brannt Pieniazek's RBI single.
Pieniazek reached second on a pass ball and moved to third when B.J. Grandinetti scratched out an infield hit. Felt whiffed the next Central batter and this Crusader threat was halted when Dillon Williams snagged a liner to right.
Young's club got its other tally in the seventh. Grandinetti got on board when he was clipped by a pitch. He moved up on Brenton Colabella's single and scored on a Panella hit.
The Crusaders managed six hits (Panella finished with two) off Felt and Jim Brinsky, who took over in the sixth.
"We haven't been on a big stage like this. We came out a little flat and a little bite in awe," Young noted. "Once we settled in, we couldn't get something to get us any energy. It's tough to be down 7-0. Our kids never gave in and they kept plugging. We just couldn't get that big hit."
Central is 16-5 and will visit Bellaire Monday.