Small ball leads ’Cats past Ferry

MARTINS FERRY – Small ball, if executed right, will win baseball games.

Edison proved that theory right Friday afternoon in remaining undefeated with a 4-3 victory over homestanding Martins Ferry.

The Wildcats (4-0) used a trio of sacrifices – two flyballs – a hit-and-run and a leadoff bunt that helped account for all of their runs.

“(Edison) Coach (Mike) Collopy made some great calls today,” Martins Ferry head coach Anthony Reasbeck praised. “Sometimes your players make you look like a genius and that’s what happened today.

“He (Collopy) looked like a genius today. He won that game.”

Starting pitchers Tanner Evans (Edison) and Lucas Lloyd (Martins Ferry) matched goose eggs for four frames, with Lloyd allowing just one hit, while Evans was holding the Purple Riders (3-4) hitless.

Edison finally broke through in the fifth when Austin Horan dropped a leadoff single into shallow left field. Evans then hit a comebacker to Lloyd, who wheeled and threw to second in an attempt to turn a double play. However, his throw pulled second baseman Brendan Baire off the bag as both runners were safe.

Storm Allese laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt as both runners advanced 90 feet. Collin Skeeles, the Wildcats’ No. 9 hitter, lifted a fly ball to right-center that was deep enough to get Horan home for a 1-0 lead.

The Purple Riders’ Seth Scott broke up Evans’ no-hit bid with a solid one-out single to left in the bottom of the inning, but a fielder’s choice and strikeout ended that threat.

Edison added to its margin in the sixth as Josh Pasek legged out a bunt single leading off. Nolan Marcus executed a hit-and-run with a single to right and Pasek chugged around to third. Collin Scott’s fly ball to center was deep enough for Pasek to sprint home, making it 2-0. Clay Woodward’s double down the third base line scored Marcus, who stole second, for a 3-0 count. Evans picked up the final – and eventual game-winning RBI – with a seeing-eye single that just eluded Martins Ferry shortstop Ethan Baire’s game effort in shallow left.

“We executed some situations that gave us some runs,” Collopy said. “Small ball helped us today, but defensively we made a couple of mistakes that allowed them back in the game.”

The Purple Riders made a valiant effort with three runs in the sixth to cut the deficit to one, thanks to a couple of fielding miscues by the Wildcats.

Brendan Baire reached on an error leading off and Marcus Sutton followed with a single to left. Robert Vargo’s deep drive down the left field line dropped at the base of the fence for a double, scoring Baire and leaving runners on second and third. Ethan Baire’s smash to third was bobbled as Sutton raced home to make it 4-2. Garrett Trudo’s single to left loaded the bases and TJ Jacobs’ fielder’s choice plated Vargo with the third tally. After Evans got the second out, Matt Barbour’s soft liner was gloved by Marcus at short to end the rally.

The Wildcats had runners on first and second with two outs in the seventh before Lloyd struck out the next batter to end the inning.

Pinch-hitter Luke Straub gave the Purple Riders some hope in their last at-bat as he singled leading off. Brendan Baire sacrificed Jeremy Plants, who re-entered for Straub, to second, but Evans got tough and struck out the next hitter. After intentionally walking Vargo, Evans ended the game with his seventh strikeout.

“We just can’t get that big hit when we need it,” Reasbeck lamented. “Maybe one day. Hopefully in a big game … maybe a tournament game down the road.”

The Purple Gang gets no time to dwell on the tough setback as it hosts Monroe Central today in a noon doubleheader.

“I like it that way,” Reasbeck added. “You can either dwell on the loss or man-up and play.”

Evans, a hard-throwing righthanded junior, allowed five hits while fanning seven. He walked two, one intentionally. Lloyd struck out four and issued one base-on-balls. He gave up seven hits.