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Mineral Ridge starter Klamer pitches complete game shutout in 3-0 district semifinal win over Jackson-Milton | News, sports, jobs

Staff Photo / Brian Yauger Mineral Ridge pitcher Xavier Klamer fires a pitch during the team’s district semifinal victory over Jackson-Milton on Tuesday.

NILES – The coaches at both Mineral Ridge and Jackson-Milton knew how their games would go.

The top two teams in the Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference – Scarlet Tier faced off with a trip to the district finals on the line.

A single run could very well have decided the game, and it was the Rams who got on the board first, with pitcher Xavier Klamer beating fellow sophomore Andrew Gillie at home with a double after five and a half scoreless innings.

That sparked Mineral Ridge, who went on to defeat the Blue Jays 3-0 in a Division IV Niles District semifinal.

“With these two pitchers, we definitely had a ‘first to score a run wins’ mentality,” Mineral Ridge coach Anthony Ragozine said. “You have to find a way to get one runner in front of us and then those two (pitchers) can close the door on everyone.”

Klamer threw a complete game shutout, on 115 pitches, and struck out eight.

“He was a dog,” Ragozine said. “That’s what he does every day. Even on his days off he is fighting. He has given up one run and is 5-0 this season. That’s just the kind of kid he is.”

Even down to his last batter of the evening, Klamer fought on and closed with a pop-up out that sealed the deal.

Gillie, who was batted in by his pitcher an inning earlier, sent home Jackson Geddes before scoring himself on a wild pitch.

Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, their best chance to score was stifled in the top of the sixth, and they couldn’t capitalize on it in the seventh.

Jackson-Milton’s year ends at 13-9.

“I saw a great game between two pitchers, and two good teams,” Blue Jays coach Matt Ruby said. “We knew what kind of match was going on. Coach Ragozine and I are good friends, as if we knew exactly what was going to happen today. In the end, someone had to win and someone had to lose.”

Losing just two seniors, Jackson-Milton is gearing up for a return next season. The goal is obviously to go one step further. One way they can achieve that is by using the small ball better.

“I hope they learn what it takes to win these types of games,” Ruby said. “We’re still young, but we’re not young if that makes sense to anyone. But at the end of the day, as we told these kids going into the tournament, the team that can get a bunt, the team that can lay a bunt – those teams are going to win a tournament game. And they executed more on the small ball than we did today.”

If they can do that, Ruby has confidence in the future of his group

“Our overall record does not reflect what kind of team we are,” he said. “Nobody wants us involved in the tournament. We have good pitching and we play good defense. It’s like when we have runners on third base and less than two outs, all we have to do is get that ground ball to get that guy home and we had plenty of opportunities today that we just couldn’t finish.”

The Rams will face Warren JFK in the district title game on Thursday. Start time is 5:00 PM at Waddell Park in Niles.

Kennedy is a strong team, but Mineral Ridge isn’t afraid to be the underdog.

“We know we’re going into this as the underdogs and I think we’re ready for the challenge,” Ragozine said. “I mean, someone has to win that game and we’re going to give it our best shot and see what happens.”

Do you have an interesting story? Contact Brian Yauger via email at [email protected]. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @_brianyauger.

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