Catholic Central stops Red Knights

TORONTO – Steubenville Catholic Central baseball coach Don Young has had a simple mantra all year.

“We just have to get better every day,” he said. “We looked really ugly really early in the year. But, we are getting better and here we are today.

“It goes through Toronto. We’re just trying to get back to where it goes through Central and Toronto.”

That was a 6-2 victory over Toronto at the Knight Baseball Complex Saturday in the OVAC Class 2A semifinals.

The 11th victory in 15 outings gives the Crusaders a 5 p.m. Friday date with Shadyside, a 4-3 winner over Bridgeport, at Vaccaro Field.

“I’m just proud of what the kids have done,” Young said.

Sophomore Chris Murphy went the distance. He stuck out eight, but walked seven. He allowed three hits, two to Austin Lucas.

“Murph didn’t have his best stuff today,” said Young. “His back was bothering him. He just gutted it out. He kept after it. Everybody fed off of that. It was a total team effort.”

Catholic Central plated four in the second and two in the third for a 6-0 lead.

Stone Romano walked, Aleks Porreca singled and Kyle Laukert loaded the sacks with a bunt single in the second inning.

A Joe DeFallo double brought home two. Josh Merriman’s groundout plated Laukert and Michael Barber’s single brought home DeFallo.

The Crusaders scored twice in the third. Tony Barber reached on an error and moved to third on Brenton Colabella’s single.

Colabella stole second and Barber scored on the bad throw. Colabella later came home on Aleks Porreca’s sacrifice fly.

Toronto came up with a pair in the bottom of the third.

With two outs, Murphy walked Chez Glenn, Tyler Owens and Brad Melville to load the sacks. Lucas followed with a shot to the left-center gap to bring home two.

Blaze Glenn reached on a single and Chez Glenn walked to start the fifth. But, the Crusaders turned a 6-4-3 double play to squash the rally.

The Red Knights had runners on first and second with one out in the sixth, but Murphy got out of the jam and retired the side in order in the seventh.

“We got down early, but our kids kept competing the whole game,” said Red Knights coach Brian Perkins. “We had our opportunities, but didn’t take advantage of them. Other than one, we didn’t get the hit when we needed it.

“Although today didn’t work out for us, as long as our kids keep competing and battling, it will work out for us down the line.”

Tyler Owens took the loss. He fanned 10 and walked four.

The Crusaders visit Martins Ferry Monday, Toronto Tuesday and host Big Red Wednesday.

The Red Knights welcome Bridgeport Wednesday after its rematch with Central.