STEUBENVILLE - Chris Murphy did the job on the hill and Catholic Central's offense delivered some clutch hits in Monday's 4-1 victory over Big Red at Vacarro Field.
The junior right hander allowed just three hits, recorded six strikes and worked his way out of two jams as the Crusaders ran their record to 9-0.
"That's Murph every night," Central coach Don Young said. "We've come to expect that out of him and he usually delivers. He comes every day and competes whether it's practice or a game. That's something we're trying to instill in all our guys."
OUT AT FIRST — Steubenville Big Red’s Branden Jones is out at first base as Steubenville Catholic Central’s Josh Merriman catches the throw during Monday’s 4-1 win by the Crusaders at Vaccaro Field.
-- Mike Mathison
SAFE AT SECOND — Steubenville Big Red’s Niko Petrides slides safely into second base as Steubenville Catholic Central’s Michael Barber covers the bag. The Crusaders won, 4-1, at Vaccaro FIeld.
-- Mike Mathison
The Crusaders, who are scheduled to play at Wheeling Central today, weather permitting, took the lead for good in the home half of the first. Murphy singled off Big Red starter Justin Corsi and scored on Brenton Colabella's base knock.
Central plated the rest of its runs in the third. Tony Barber reached on an error (Big Red was guilty of four fielding miscues) and advanced when Colabella was hit by a pitch. Both runners moved up on a pass ball.
Aleks Porreca then doubled down the left field line to make it 3-0. Porreca touched home thanks to Austin Oliver's double to the right-center gap.
"It was a nice win for us," Young stated. "Big Red is a yardstick program; I say the same thing about Toronto all the time. We're trying to become one; we want to be talked about the same way. For that to happen, we have to compete with them.
"Big Red has a great team and today we competed with them. When we compete, we're a pretty good baseball team. In games we don't compete, we're not very good. So far this season, we've been competing. Our main focus is to compete and get better every game."
The lone Big Red run came in the fourth thanks to Lucas Herrington's RBI grounder.
Fred Heatherington's club, now 6-3, threatened in the first, the third and the sixth. In the third, Big Red loaded the bases (Niko Petrides' single got things going) with one out but Murphy retired two straight to end the threat. Anthony Zorne and Corsi started the sixth with back-to-back singles. The Crusaders, however, turned a double play to keep its three-run lead.
"We had chances to score but we couldn't hit the ball out of the infield and we swing a 2-0 pitch that was down and out," Heatherington commented. "We didn't play smart, we didn't play good and Murphy pitched a solid game.
"We didn't play our smartest game. We missed some signs early. You're just not going to win games if you don't make plays in the field and today we didn't make plays. And you're not going to win games when you get guys on base and can't hit the ball."
Central finished with eight hits, Tony Barber pacing the offense with two singles. Michael Barber and Stone Romano also delivered singles.
"We're developing offensively," Young, who earned his first triumph over Big Red since becoming the Central mentor, said. "We like to do a lot of things. We like to bunt, hit and run and just run. When we hit, we become a pretty good team.
"We did make a lot of mistakes offensively today. We were a little too aggressive at times and maybe ran ourselves out of a few innings. But, we'll learn from those mistakes. We haven't been able to practice much outside and work on the little things. We'll live with those aggressive mistakes offensively."
Corsi finished with five strikeouts for Big Red, which is idle until it hosts Wheeling Park Thursday.
Catholic Central 4, Big Red 1
Big Red 000 100 0 - 1 3 4
Central 103 000 x - 4 8 0
STEUBENVILLE (6-3): Corsi (LP, 3BB, 5K, 1 HBP) and McClurg. Petrides S, Corsi S, Zorne Herrington RBI.
CATHOLIC CENTRAL (9-0): Murphy (WP, 4BB, 6K, 1 HBP) and Romano. T. Barber 2S, Porreca D, 2RBI; Oliver D, RBI; Colabella S, RBI; M. Barber S; Romano S; Murphy S.