Crusaders slip past Big Red, 1-0

STEUBENVILLE – The story remains the same.

The Catholic Central softball team continued to use some late-inning magic to pull out a victory. The Crusaders ended up scoring the game-winning run in the fifth inning for the second-straight day to pull out a 1-0 victory over city-rival Big Red at the Steve Zamana Softball Field.

The late-inning heroics enabled Catholic Central to remain perfect on the season.

“We battle,” Catholic Central (4-0) head coach Jim DiCarlo said. “I knew it was going to be a good game. We are not playing as well as we are capable of playing. It’s early. Once we get everything put together we will be fine.

“Give credit to Big Red. It was a rivalry game. I knew it was going to be a dogfight. It was a great game. Games that end up 1-0 always are.

“Our girls are a little tired. The girls played three games in three days in the cold weather. I’m sure it is the same thing with the Big Red girls. It was nice to play in warmer weather. It was not as warm as I had hoped.”

The win was the Crusaders’ third close victory of the week. Catholic Central opened the season by scoring a run in the seventh inning to defeat Magnolia, 4-3, Monday at home. Wednesday, Catholic Central plated three runs in the in the top of the fifth to record a 6-3 win against Bishop Donahue at the 1-470 Complex.

The loss drops Big Red (3-3) down to .500 on the season.

“It was a great game,” first-year Big Red head coach Gus DiMarzio said. “Alex (McComb) pitched a great game as a freshman. I tip my hat to her. She is a good kid. She comes from a good family.

“In a 1-0 game, you can’t complain. It could have been different if we could have gotten some timely hits, but we didn’t. The girls will learn from this.”

McComb earned the win for the Crusaders. She struck out six, walked four and limited Big Red to four hits.

Offensively, Catholic Central was able to muster four hits. Individually, Ashlynne Daley doubled, and Micca Mirabella, Tori Knight and McComb all contributed base hits.

Brooke Carroll took the loss for Big Red. Carroll did not record a strikeout while walking three batters.

“Brooke pitched well,” DiMarzio said. “She was hurt. She played before, but she took a year or two off. She threw really well. They have a good lineup. They have one of the best lineups in the area.”

Offensively Casey Gentile tallied a single and a double, and Carmie Biasi and Abbey Taylor each collected singles.

In the bottom of the fifth, Mirabella led off with a single. She then stole second base before moving up to third on a wild pitch. Sammi Giannamore, the team’s No. 2 hitter, lofted a sacrifice fly to left field scoring Mirabella to put the Crusaders out in front 1-0.

“Give credit to Big Red,” DiCarlo said. “Give credit to their coaches. It was a tussle. It was a dogfight.

“I think one of the things that helped us today is we believe in what we do. We have played some close games, and we have found a way to win.”

Trailing by one run, Big Red did not go own without a fight in the seventh. Gentile doubled with two outs, but McComb struck out Taylor Young to end the game.

“We competed the whole game,” DiMarzio said. “The girls played hard until the end.”

Catholic Central had a golden opportunity to score in the bottom of the third. The Crusaders loaded the bases, but Carroll got Maddy Gulan to ground out to short to end the inning to keep the game scoreless.

“Jimmy is a great coach,” DiMarzio said. “His girls are disciplined. They play well.

“I am really proud of my girls. They didn’t fold. They had a chance to score when they had the bases loaded, but our girls did not fold. They have folded before. They stepped up and didn’t let them score.”

Through the years, Catholic Central has had the better of things on the field, however, the Crusaders do not look past their city rivals.

“It is the city rivalry,” DiCarlo said. “I knew it was going to be a dogfight. I knew it was going to be a close game. It was a tight game. It could have gone either way. Our players don’t just go through the emotions against them. They get excited to play Big Red.”

Both teams play again today on the road. Big Red travels to take on Indian Creek, while Catholic Central heads across the river to take on Weir.

Catholic Central 1, Big Red 0

Big Red 000 000 0 – 0 4 2

Catholic Central 000 010 x – 1 4 0

BIG RED (3-3): Carroll (LP, 0K, 3BB) and Gentile; Biasi S; Gentile S, D; Taylor S.

CATHOLIC CENTRAL (4-0): McComb (WP, 6k, 4BB) and Clark; Mirabella S; Giannamore RBI; McComb S; Daley D; Knight S.