TORONTO - Steubenville Post 33 did it again.
After beating Cadiz Post 34, 8-7, in its last at-bat Tuesday to advance to a winner's bracket matchup with Wayne County, the boys in blue came up big in their last at-bat yet again Saturday to win 8-7 and advance to the finals of the eighth-annual Carl "Dutch" Nordenger Memorial District 10 American Legion Tournament. The difference was this thriller lasted 15 innings, and, more importantly, clinched Steubenville a spot in the American Legion Ohio State Tournament.
"I just told our kids I'm so happy for them," said Post 33 skipper Mark Stacy. "We've had our struggles this year and we're an inexperienced team.
GETTING TWO — Steubenville’s Bryan Pierro (14) high-fives teammate Brenton Colabella after they both scored on a two-out single by John Linn in the first inning of Saturday’s winner’s bracket game with Wayne County at the Knight Baseball Complex. Post 33 scored once in the bottom of the 15th inning to earn a trip to the state tournament with an 8-7 victory.
"We have a lot of guys who didn't have a lot of Legion experience. We struggled at times. Not just tonight, but the whole tournament, we've just got after it.
"We've played our best baseball. Tonight's game was really an unbelievable game. I've been doing this for a long time and that's one for the ages as far as I'm concerned."
In the bottom of the 15th, Steve Mihalyo led off with a double to left center. Mihalyo advanced to third on a Bryan Pierro groundout to second. Tuesday's hero, John Linn, stepped to the plate and was walked bringing to bat youngster Chris Murphy with runners on first and third and one out. Murphy hit a groundball to the Wayne shortstop who tossed to second to put out Linn. As the second baseman's throw was altered by the sliding Linn allowing Murphy to arrive safely, Mihalyo to score, and setting off the Post 33 celebration.
Steubenville 8, Wayne County 7
Wayne County 000 100 020 003 010 - 7 13 1
Steubenville 020 000 100 003 011 - 8 13 6
WAYNE COUNTY: Brumfield (4K, 3BB), Williams (12, LP, 4K, 1BB) and Vernier; Kline D, S; Vernier T, S, rbi; Taylor HR, S, 2rbi; Miller HR, 2S, 3rbi; Detwiler 2S; Morriman 2S.
STEUBENVILLE: J. Pierro (1K, 2BB), Panella (9, 7K, 3BB) and McClurg, Laukert; Young T, S; Mihalyo D; Panella 4S, rbi; J. Pierro 2S; Colabella 2S, 3rbi; Porreca S, rbi; Linn S, 2rbi; Murphy rbi.
"Chris Murphy's gotten very little playing time this year, and he gets in the game and does what he has to do," said Stacy. "It was an amazing game."
To get to that point Steubenville had to come from behind twice in extra innings.
In the 12th, Wayne put up a three runs to take a 6-3 lead. The first run came with the help of a pair of Post 33 throwing errors. Brodie Arnette reached on a throwing error to lead off the frame that left him at second. Jarod Detweiler then singled to left. The throw to third to get Arnette ended up in the Wayne dugout sending him home and Detweiler to second. Brendan Taylor then struck a big blow with a two-run shot over the left field fence for the three-run lead.
Post 33 came right back. With one out JoJo Pierro was hit by a pitch, followed by Jimmy Panella and Alex Young singles that loaded the bases. Then Brenton Colabella hit a single to score JoJo Pierro and Panella. Young ended up at third on the hit. Aleks Porreca laid a perfect bunt down the first base line for a single that scored Young and the game was tied at 6-6.
Wayne grabbed another lead in the top of the 14th when Ian Vernier tripled to drive in Taylor for the 7-6 lead.
Again Post 33 was up to the task. Young laced a triple to left with one out to set up another clutch Colabella at bat. The Post 33 first baseman hit a groundout to short that scored the speedy Young and make the score 7-all.
"There was no shortage of guts on our side or on their side," said Stacy. "To fall behind in the 14th and to battle back was just amazing. We just laid it out on the table. We used about everything we have tonight."
Panella threw a scoreless top half of the 15th to set up Post 33's late-game heroics.
Steubenville grabbed a 2-0 lead in the second on a Linn single that scored Colabella and Bryan Pierro.
Steubenville also took a 3-1 lead in the seventh when Panella singled in Kai McClurg.
Blake Miller drove in Wayne's first three runs. The first on a fourth inning single that sent home Taylor and in the eighth on a two-run home run.
Panella picked up the win by entering ninth and striking out seven. Starting pitcher JoJo Pierro pitched a strong eight frames before being relieved by Panella.
"JoJo pitched a heck of a game at the beginning," said Stacy. "Jimmy came in and pitched his heart out."
Wayne County drops to the losers' bracket and will play today at 7 p.m. at the Knight Baseball Complex against the winner of the 4 p.m. game between Tusky County and Cadiz.
Steubenville gets a well-deserved day off before playing in the District 10 finals Monday at 4 p.m. at the Knight Baseball Complex against whomever remains standing from the losers' bracket. If Post 33 loses that game they will play another again 7 p.m.
"Sure it's big," said Stacy. "We have Justin Corsi now and he's very fresh. If we wouldn't have won that game we would have been deep into our staff and it would have made it very hard on us."