Lafferty squares up series

NEFFS – The Steele and Cook Insurance Ohio Valley Baseball League playoffs resumed after a two-day hiatus due to a battle with Mother Nature Sunday afternoon.

And even with two days off, the homestanding A’s Gang (11-11) and Lafferty Dodgers (17-5) still proved how equally matched they are.

Lafferty, which had home-field advantage taken away from them in game one, regained it on Sunday with a hard-earned 8-6 victory against the A’s.

“Neffs’ record certainly doesn’t show how good of a team they really are,” said Lafferty player/manager Jordan Barbina. “This was a battle to the end and we were able to come up with the plays today to get it done.”

The decisive game three is scheduled for today at 6 p.m. in Lafferty, with the winner advancing to the OVBL semifinals.

“This was a good game, but there’s a game three for a reason and we’ll have to come out and play Neffs baseball because our backs are against the wall,” said Neffs leader Dane Koch.

With Neffs seeking to close out the series, it elected to go with Matt Masarick as its starter and with Lafferty in a nip-and-tuck game, it brought in ace Mark Smyth in relief in the fifth.

Masarick, who was going on two days rest, was charged with six runs on seven hits before giving way to Jared Taylor, who is on the pitching staff at West Liberty, in the fourth.

The game was tied at six after five innings. Koch was the offensive sparkplug with two singles, a double and two RBI. Steve Splenda drove in a pair with a double, while Derek Miller also doubled in a run.

However, Lafferty just followed the same gameplan it’s utilized all season.

“Our team is all about character,” Barbina said. “Even when we get into a hole, we keep battling. We’ve had great team chemistry all year and we just keep battling for each other.”

With Smyth on the bump, the Lafferty offense pushed across the go-ahead run in the sixth when Barbina legged a one-out triple down the left-field line.

Another former Union Local Jet – Tyler McGary – who had three hits in the game, drove in Barbina with a single into shallow right.

The Dodgers did it with two outs in the seventh. Zeke Wharton clubbed a double to the fence in left-center. Catcher Myron Jellison, who is a solid contributor at West Liberty, posted his third RBI of the game to put the Dodgers on top.

The A’s Gang didn’t go quietly in the bottom of the seventh. Smyth recorded a strikeout to begin the frame, but he walked Miller and then Brandon Leonard posted his second hit of the contest.

However, Smyth buckled down and recorded a strikeout and a foul pop to first to thwart the rally and end the game.

Barbina came through with two singles, the aforementioned triple, was plunked, drove in two runs and scored two runs. McGary drove in two runs with three singles.

Bernie Thompson, who plays wide receiver at Waynesburg, drove in a run.

Barbina was noncommittal on who is getting the ball this evening.

“We’ve been using four guys most of the season, so we’re going to throw them around,” Barbina said. “Plus, Mark (Smyth) has a rubber arm, too, so he may be able to give us a couple of innings.”

Koch didn’t think twice when asked about his pitching probable for this evening.

“I’ll be on the mound,” Koch said.

Staskey can be reached at