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St. Clairsville defends OVAC Class 4A baseball title, tops Indian Creek, 9-4 | News, sports, jobs


Staff Writer

RICHMOND – The old myth that it’s hard to beat a team three times in the same season became just a myth Saturday.

Top-seeded St. Clairsville (20-2) defended its OVAC Class 4A baseball championship with a 9-4 verdict over No. 2 Indian Creek (14-6) on the synthetic surface of the wet Edison High School’s Unified Sports Complex. The entire match was played in continuous rain.

Not only did the Red Devils go back-to-back, but they did it against the Redskins.

“Last year we played Creek here and luckily we were able to come out on top again,” said veteran St. Clairsville head coach Tom Sliva. “They have a very good team and they didn’t make it as easy as it seemed at times.

“Conditions were far from ideal,” Sliva noted. “They were bad for both teams. The balls were slippery, as was the field. I thought both teams fought through it pretty well.”

Game MVP Brody Saunders shined both on the mound and at the plate. The lanky junior went the distance on the mound, striking out just four and walking just one. He scattered five hits, three of which went to Indian Creek’s Ty Householder. Saunders, who didn’t hit the Redskins earlier this season, threw 122 pitches – three just above the limit – of which 78 were strikes.

“You can’t say enough about the job he did on the mound,” Sliva praised. “The conditions were not good, but he adapted well to it and played his game. I am very proud of him, as well as the whole team.”

Saunders also scored a six-run bottom of the third inning with a bases-clearing double to the left-center gap, giving the Red Devils a 6-1 lead after Householder tripled in Caleb Bodo with two outs in the first half of the inning.

“That was obviously the biggest hit of the game,” Sliva said.

Saunders said he wasn’t really looking for a specific pitch.

“I was just looking for something in the middle, trying to get on base,” he explained. “I got the pitch I wanted and moved it to left-center.”

Wright State University signee Braylen Blomquist fueled St. Clairsville’s outburst with a leadoff single. He moved to third when a fly ball to right by Marcus Bush was misplayed. Hunter Hoffman walked to load the bases and left-handed Mason Myers singled to left to tie the score at 1. Saunders then hit a 3-1 pitch to the fence for a 4-1 lead. Caleb Keenan hit a ground-rule RBI double that bounced over the fence down the left field line, making the score 5-1. With two outs, No. 9 hitter Niko Jacob ripped a single up the middle, allowing Keenan, who had reached third base, to advance on a sacrifice fly by Mikey Balgo.

The Redskins fell behind by a pair of runs in the fifth inning when Householder drove in one and crossed the other on a throwing error. However, the Red Devils answered back with two goals of their own in the second half when Bush singled to center with two outs, scoring Jacob and Blomquist, making it 8-3.

After Indian Creek made it 8-4 in the sixth, St. Clairsville also got that point back.

“I think the big key to the game was that we kept adding points after they scored,” Sliva noted.

Saunders was also involved in a few defensive gems. In the first inning, after yielding a leadoff single to Householder, he caught an attempted sacrifice bunt for an out and then turned to Hoffman first for an inning-changing double play. He then turned around and picked off a runner at second to end the sixth.

Landon Pownall doubled for Indian Creek. Hunter Rusnak an infield single.

“The bottom line is we gave them two extra outs with a few infield miscues and too many open passes,” Indian Creek head coach Mike Cottis said. “You can’t do that against a good team like St. Clairsville.

Myers, playing in only his fourth game after recovering from a broken wrist, had two singles, one of which was a perfect bunt that loaded the bases in the first inning with one out, but Indian Creek starter Sylus Hyde worked his way out of the problems with a few strikeouts. He struck out four and walked three before being chased by Saunders’ explosion in the third. Reliever Sy Barcalow plated a pair, but issued four free passes and hit back-to-back batters in the sixth.

“I am very happy that my seniors can end their careers in this way,” said Sliva. “Most of them have been players for us for four years and have put in a lot of time and hard work. They deserve it, but they also know we still have a lot of baseball to play.”

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