Big Red comes through in ninth

RICHMOND – For eight innings Friday, Big Red and Edison locked horns in a classic high school baseball battle.

The ninth, unfortunately for the homestanding Wildcats, was a different story.

Steubenville erupted for nine runs in its half of the frame and left Jefferson Lake State Park with a 10-2 victory.

“Our kids battled,” said Big Red’s Fred Heatherington. “They never put their heads down and haven’t all year.”

Through the first eight, Big Red sophomore Anthony Zorne and Edison senior Nolan Marcus were lights out on the hill. Both surrendered one run and allowed three hits. Heatherington’s club scored in the second after Branden Jones walked and Kai McClurg laced a hustle double to right-center. Jones touched home on Justin Corsi’s sacrifice fly to center.

Zorne threw shutout ball through five. Mike Collopy’s crew got on the board in the sixth with two outs. Collin Scott worked Zorne for a one-out walk. He moved up on Storm Allese’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Tanner Evans’ base knock.

Edison had scoring chances early but the Wildcats stranded six runners.

Dimitri Collaros started the Big Red ninth with a walk. After Marcus retired Zorne, he issued free passes to Niko Petrides and Jones. McClurg followed with a fly ball to left-center, scoring Collaros. Matt Johnson took over for Marcus after McClurg’s RBI, but he struggled with his control.

Corsi walked to re-load the bases. Casey Peterson was clipped by a pitch and it was 3-1 Big Red. Lucas Herrington also was nailed and Petrides came home. Bryan Pierro delivered a sharp single, scoring the fourth tally of the frame. Collaros cleared the bases with a double to right-center and the score advanced to 8-1.

Ben Boyd took over for Johnson as Zorne made his second trip to the plate in the inning. The left-handed hitting Zorne reached via an error. Petrides’ double plated Collaros and Big Red’s final run came via a wild pitch.

During the rally, Big Red sent 15 batters to the box, collected three hits, five walks and had three players hit.

“We were in a 1-1 game and we had chances to move guys up in the sixth and seventh but we didn’t,” Heatherington noted. “We got on a roll in the ninth and scored nine with two outs. We stuck to our game plan again. Our plan was to get him (Marcus) to throw as many pitches as possible and get him out of the game. When they took him out, we did what we had to do.

“Both guys threw well, we just out battled them.”

As Collopy pointed out, it was “a heck of game.”

“Anybody that was here can break it down however they want, but the bottom line is we left too many guys on base,” Edison’s boss stated. “There were situations where we could have done our part but we didn’t do it. Nolan pitched a great game and we played solid defense behind him (our Big Red threat was stopped by a Wildcat double play). We just didn’t get it done at the plate.”

Zorne went all nine innings (he also pitched nine frames in last week’s OVAC Class 4A title game) to collect the win. He scattered five hits and recorded eight punch outs. The Wildcats did score in the home half of the night thanks to Jose Pasek’s RBI single.

“He battles and doesn’t get rattled,” Heatherington said of his sophomore lefty. “He keeps his composure. He thought he had some strikes but they weren’t and that’s the way it goes. We had a good umpire behind the plate. He battles until the game is over and never shows any emotion. That’s why he is good.”

Bryce Piatt had three of Edison’s five hits while Pierro finished with two for Big Red.

“We didn’t expect anything different,” Collopy said of the performances by Marcus and Zorne. “It was just a game that one point was a classic baseball game.”

Both teams will open Division II sectional play next week. Big Red (20-4 and winners of 10 straight) is the top seed and will meet the survivor of today’s Beaver Local-East Liverpool clash at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Edison, now 17-4, will begin tournament play Thursday; taking on either Indian Creek or Cambridge (those two clubs also are scheduled to play today). The Wildcats are the second seed.

“We talked to our guys after the game and told them 20-4 sounds a lot better than 19-5,” Heatherington, who now has 14 20-win seasons, said. “We as coaches couldn’t be more proud of this group, 20-4 is a pretty good record.

“This was a good game to play going into the tournament. You had two good teams playing and fighting out there.”