STEUBENVILLE - The Huskies are headed west.
Led by a strong performance from senior ace Rashaen Mitchell, the Harrison Central baseball team made some history Wednesday as the Huskies rallied for a 6-2 victory over Dover in an Ohio Division II Eastern District Co-Final at Vaccaro Field.
With the win, the Huskies (21-6) advanced to the regional tournament for the first time in school history. Harrison Central will play in the regional semifinals against Vincent Warren at 2 p.m. May 30 at Gant Municipal Stadium in Zanesville.
BRINGING HOME A TROPHY — Harrison Central’s Dalton Rutter is congratualted by his teammates after a sacrifice fly RBI during the Huskies 6-2 District title win over Dover Wednesday.
-- Fred Younce
"The kids have come a long way," Harrison Central head coach Justin Clifford said. "They won two or three games their freshman year. This is a tribute to their work ethic, their parents and everyone involved. It takes a community. I am at a loss of words."
Vincent Warren defeated Washington Court House, 11-3, in a district co-final Wednesday at Ohio University in Athens.
The offensively-potent Tornadoes (25-4) struggled to get anything going against Mitchell. Mitchell collected eight strikeouts while not walking a batter en route to picking up his eighth win of the season. Mitchell, who has only lost one game, limited the Tornadoes to just a pair of base hits.
"It means a lot," Mitchell said about advancing to the regional tournament. "It shows we have come a long way from where we were."
Offensively, the Huskies received contributions from everyone in the lineup as all nine batter reached safely. Eight of the nine reached on at least one hit. Harrison Central tallied nine hits in the win.
Individually, Austin Kowalski contributed two singles and an RBI, Drew Horn recorded a two-run single and Dalton Rutter and Mitchell each tallied a single and an RBI. Also, Nick Staten netted a double, and Dustin Redish, Nick Pelegreen and Rhett Kuryn all collected a base hit. Kalub Mitchell reached on a walk.
The Huskies also made multiple key plays on defense to help shutdown Dover.
"We talked about throwing strikes and fielding the ball," Clifford said. "That was a great performance by Rashaen Mitchell. He only allowed two hits against a team with 25 wins. We played well in the field. Nick Pelegreen, Dustin Redish, Ryan Rose, Drew Horn, I could name all of them.
"We threw it. We hit it. We fielded it."
Kyle Abel was saddled with the loss for Dover. Abel struck out three and walked three in 3 1/3 innings of work on the mound. Nick Lung came on in relief in the fourth, and he pitched the rest of the way. Lung recorded three strikeouts while issuing one free pass.
The Tornadoes took the early lead with a run in the bottom of the first inning.
Mason Mamarella reached on a chopper over the head of Horn at third, and Mamarella moved up when the ball got away from Ryan Rose in left. Then after a strikeout, Abel lofted a long fly ball to center. Rutter was able to run it down for the second out of the inning, but he slipped as he attempted to throw the ball back into the infield. Mamrella, who tagged up on the play, was able to score all the way from second base to give Dover a 1-0 lead.
The Huskies tied the score at 1 with a run in the top of the second.
Pelegreen started the inning off with a base hit. After a flyout, Staten reached on a walk. Then, Kuryn nearly hit into a double play to end the inning, but Alex Bowman failed to catch the ball cleanly at first base, which would have ended the inning, allowing Pelegreen to come around and score the tying run.
Harrison Central plated another run in the third thanks to another Dover error.
With one out, Rutter was hit by a pitch, and he moved up on a pitch in the dirt. After a popup, Mitchell ripped a single to left, and just like in the first inning, the ball bounced away in left allowing Rutter to record the go-ahead run to put the Huskies ahead 2-1.
The victors scored in their third-straight inning in the fourth.
With one out, Staten doubled, and Kuryn was hit by a pitch. Next, Kowalski singled home Staten to make the score 3-1. Kalub Mitchell followed with a walk, and Rutter plated a run with a sacrifice fly to increase the Huskies advantage to 4-1.
The Tornadoes got a run back in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a pair of errant throws to first.
With two outs, Jordan Mills singled. Mills moved up to second when Rashaen Mitchell's pick-off throw alluded Pelegreen. Mills also stole third. Next, Justin Crone struck out, but Staten's throw to Pelegreen to complete the out sailed over the first baseman's head allowing Mills to score making it 4-2.
Rashean Mitchell slammed the door shut on the Tornadoes from that point.
Harrison Central tallied two insurance runs in the seventh.
Rutter and Redish ripped back-to-back singles to get the ball rolling. After a strikeout, Pelegreen drew a walk to load the bases. Then, Horn rocketed a single scoring Rutter and Redish increasing the Huskies lead to 6-2.
The Tornadoes were sent down in order in the seventh to end the game.
"I wanted to strike that last kid out," Rashean Mitchell said. "Our fielders did a pretty good job."
Harrison Central advanced to the district tournament by defeating Buckeye Local, 13-3, in the sectional semifinals, and Carrollton, 8-7, in the sectional co-final Saturday at Vaccaro Field.
"Rashaen threw four innings of relief," Clifford said. "We would have been disappointed if the rain came. It was a gutsy performance. He has had a great year, and a great career. He is a great athlete."
Dover advanced by defeating River View, 11-2, in the sectional semifinals before defeating John Glenn, 5-4, in 10 innings in the co-final at Gant.
"We are going to enjoy this tonight, and then we are going to get back at it tomorrow," Clifford said. "Hopefully, we will have a field to practice on. We are going to get back at it."
Harrison Central 6, Dover 2
Harrison Central 011 200 2 - 6 9 3
Dover 100 100 0 - 2 2 2
HARRISON CENTRAL: R. Mitchell (WP, 8K, 0BB) and Staten. Pelegreen S; R. Mitchell S, RBI; Staten D; Kuryn S; Kowalski 2S, RBI; Rutter S, RBI; Horn S, RBI.
DOVER: Abel (LP, 3K, 3BB), Lunq (4th, 3K, 1BB) and Birtcher. Mamarella S; Abel RBI; Mills S.