CAMBRIDGE – Veteran St. Clairsville baseball coach Tom Sliva won his 300th career game in memorable fashion as the Red Devils survived a seventh inning rally by Monroe Central to win a Division III sectional tournament game Tuesday at Don Coss Field, 7-6.
“We had a pretty good lead and got that first out in the seventh, but then all of the sudden they get a hit and they start cheering in the dugout,” Sliva related.
“You had a big momentum shift there.”
“You might say it was a tale of two games,” Seminoles head coach Ryan Rosnick said. “We were just going through the motions. We never had a baserunner past second, then we got a little rally going, put some pressure on them and they made a few mistakes.”
The Red Devils’ defense had been error free up until the final two outs, then four errors would allow the Seminoles right back into the contest.
Tommy Stewart , who started the inning in relief for St Clairsville, retired the first batter on a ground ball before issuing three straight walks. A run scored on a wild pitch followed by two more on errors. Sliva went to the bullpen for Tyler Blomquist, who faced just one batter before Sliva recycled “Zuke”.
St. Clairsville ace Michael “Zuke” Jacob earned both the win and the save as he worked six scoreless innings. He then came back to the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning with the game on the line, notching two strikeouts to preserve the Red Devils’ victory.
“I knew the rules and told coach Sliva I could go back in to pitch,” the junior hurler explained. “I wanted the chance to save it and it worked out, but you have to credit these other 15 guys .”
With the tying run on base and the winning run at bat, the Seminoles would get a run off of an error as Eric Ward, Seth and Chad Alleman, Devin Jackson and Ethan Groves all crossed the dish. The ‘Noles would again load the bases on just their third hit of the contest as Tanner Burkhart singled to leave no room to put anyone for Zuke as he defended the one-run lead.
Plate umpire Bruce Walker demonstrated his unique called third-strike punchout, nicknamed “The Cobra” as Jacob fanned the next two batters to preserve the win.
“I don’t know if I would call it sweet,” Sliva commented. “But it was a win, so now we get back on the field to practice and we are right back to work.”
“You have to give credit to St. Clairsville for doing what they had to for the win,” Rosnick complimented his opponents. “I also have to give credit to our team for battling back. We showed a lot of heart.”
Rosnick bids farewell to four seniors – Bryan Duffy, Ward, Jackson and Peter Frontz – as they close the ledger on the 2014 campaign.
Malik Gummer paced the Red Devils’ offense from his leadoff spot with a double, two singles and an RBI. Jacob helped his cause going by 3-for-3 at the plate, all singles with an RBI.
St. Clairsville improves to 10-9 and moves on to face No. 2 seed Bellaire back at Cambridge. The game is scheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m.
St. Clairsville 030 211 0 – 7 11 4
Monroe Central 000 000 6 – 6 3 3
STC-Jacob wp (7K, 1W), Stewart (7), (0K,3W), Bloomquist (7), (0K, 0W), Jacob (7), (2K, 0W) and Slavik; Gummer D, 2S, rbi; Goletz D; Jacob 3S, rbi;
MC-Stewart lp (1K, 3W), Duffy (4), (1K, 3W) and Frontz
Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org