TORONTO - Steubenville Post 33 is one victory away from the claiming the Region 7 American Legion Baseball Tournament championship.
Donnie Young's club used a bean, a couple of blasts and some clutch pitching to clip Alliance Post 166 7-5 in the winner's bracket final Saturday at the Knight Baseball Complex.
The victory moves Post 33, now 29-9, into Monday's title game, set to start at 4 p.m. Steubenville will meet the survivor of today's loser's bracket action. Wayne County and Tusky County are set to tangle at 3 p.m. That winner will face Alliance at 6 p.m. Both games are scheduled for the KBC.
A Post 33 triumph Monday will send Steubenville to the state Legion tournament. A loss will lead to a second game at 7 p.m.
Steubenville grabbed the lead for good during its first at-bat Saturday. Bryan Pierro was clipped by Michael Whitaker's second pitch of the game. Lefty John Linn followed with a towering shot off the foul pole in left. Initially, the home plate umpire called Linn's blast foul. After a brief conversation with the third base ump, he changed his call and Linn touched them all, putting Post 33 up 2-0.
"That really set the tone," Young said of Linn's dinger. "We had some good at bats all the way through. Unfortunately we did leave too many guys on (Post 33 stranded 12 runners while Alliance left 13 on). That's a real good team over there and fortunately, we were able to get started early tonight."
Post 33 7, Post 166 5
Post 33 203 020 000 - 7 10 4
Post 166 010 031 000 - 5 8 1
POST 33 (29-9): Zorne (WP, 4BB, 6K, 1HB) Murphy (6, 2BB, 2K, 1HB) A. Young (Save, 1BB, 0K) and McClurg. A. Young T, 2S; Pierro 2S; Linn HR, 2RBI; Colabella RBI; Panella D, S, RBI; Corsi HR, S, 2RBI.
POST 166 (22-8-1): Whitaker (LP, 0BB, 2K, 3HB) Minnich (6, 4BB, 3K, 1HB) Inge (9, 0BB, 0K) and Bugara. Taylor S; Strata S; Bugara S; Blevins 2S; Cannon S, RBI; McConnell S, RBI; Beech S.
Alliance, which saw its record drop to 22-8-1, plated an unearned run in the second off Post 33 starter and winner Anthony Zorne.
Post 33 stretched its advantage to 5-1 in the third (Brenton Colabella and Jimmy Panella driving home runs). Justin Corsi made it 7-1 when he stroked a home run to deep right. Panella got the inning going when he doubled to left.
Post 166 got to Zorne for three tallies in the home half of the fifth, Hunter Cannon and Seth McConnell each recording RBIs. The game's final run was scored in the sixth, a Post 33 error allowing Alliance's Josh Hammerton to touch the plate.
Steubenville finished with 10 hits (Alex Young recording three while Pierro, Panella and Corsi had two apiece). Alliance, meanwhile, had eight.
Zorne worked five innings, fanning six. The Big Red sophomore-to-be escaped some major trouble in the Alliance first. Two walks and a single loaded the sacks with one out. Zorne responded by recording two straight K's.
Chris Murphy came on the sixth, allowing two hits. Alex Young worked the ninth to record the save.
"I thought our pitchers did a great job," Young noted. "We threw a couple of young guys tonight (Murphy will be a junior at Catholic Central). Zorne got us into the sixth and gave us some great innings. Murph came in and did what he does. He got us to Al and that's what we needed. All three pitchers threw well."
Despite committing four errors, Post 33 did have a few shining moments defensively to support its hurlers. Pierro chased down a fly ball in deep center to complete Zorne's 1-2-3 third inning. Colabella erased an Alliance runner at the plate when he snagged a grounder and threw a perfect strike to catcher Kai McClurg. McClurg made a huge play in the fourth, cutting down a Post 166 player on his attempt to steal second.
"Most people might not understand this, but Kai is probably our heart and soul," Young stated. "He plays the game all out every pitch. Throwing the guy out at second may have been the biggest play of the game.
"They tried once to run on him. He was ready for it and that was a huge play."
As far as being in the Region 7 driver's seat goes, Young said it's a matter of "18 guys pulling together."
"It's the same thing I have said for three games (Post 33 also has defeated Kingsville and Wayne County in the double-elimination tournament),' he added. "I really thing I might be more proud of our young guys bench that don't even get into the game. They are so into the game. They help the other guys out and keep everyone an even keel.
"We know what the guys out in the field are going to give us. These young guys have gone above and beyond the whole week and I hope it continues."