CAMBRIDGE - Not bad for openers.
Suffice to say, St. Clairsville's Division III Sectional debut exceeded all expectations for skipper Tom Sliva and his Red Devils.
Matched against the tournament's third-seeded Fort Frye Cadets, St. C. made short work of Sonny Bidwell's ball club, prevailing by 11-1 in six innings.
RICH GIBSON Special to The Times
Fort Frye’s Zach Eddy delivers a pitch to a St. Clairsville batter during sectional baseball action at Don Coss Field in Cambridge Tuesday.
Tuesday's win returns the now 16-6 Red Devils to Don Coss Field for a Friday (5 p.m.) encounter vs. this afternoon's Bellaire-Monroe Central survivor.
Bidwell could not have envisioned a more disappointing bottom of the first inning for Cadet starter Spencer Lang who issued walks to the first three batters he faced.
A pitching change ensued and after reliever Caden Brooker recorded an out, St. C. senior Corey Kotopka crashed a bases-clearing, three-run triple to deep centerfield.
St. Clairsville 11, Fort Frye 1
Fort Frye 000 100 - 1 4 2
St. Clairsville 520 301 - 11 8 1
WP: Vinrenzo IP 3, BB 2, SO 6
Kiamck IP 3. SO 2
LP: Cayden Brooker IP 0, BB 3
Spencer Lang IP 3, BB 2, SO 1
Zach Eddy IP 3, BB 1, SO 1
Fort Frye (12-9) hitting: Lang 1-3; Chandler Lang 1-3; Casey Hall 1-3, run; Seth Wilson 1-2; Brooker, RBI
St. Clairsville hitting: Kiamck 3-4, 2 runs; Kotopka 3-4, triple, run; Smith 1-2, double; Carlton 2-3, 2 doubles
Next game: Fort Frye at River (DH), 11 a.m.
When third baseman Luke Smith followed with an opposite-field double to right, Kotopka trotted home and it was 4-0.
The Devils had time for one more big blow - this one coming from junior catcher Riley Carlton whose gap-shot double plated Smith for a 5-0 lighting.
"I was very happy with our at-bats in that first inning," Sliva would say afterward. "We want our guys to be aggressive at the plate but selective at the same time. Obviously, scoring five runs in the first made it much easier on (starting pitcher) Sammy Vincenzo."
St. C.'s southpaw ace barely worked up a sweat during three no-hit innings of work. The Potomac State Junior College-bound lefty finished with six strikeouts and four walks.
Sliva went to Matt Kinnick who worked the final three frames. The righthander recorded two strikeouts.
St. Clairsville, meanwhile, added to its early lead, scoring two more times in the second frame.
Vincenzo and Ben Evick were aboard before Kinnick legged out an infield hit. Evick would race home on a wild pitch while Vincenzo scored the result of a D.J. Busby ground ball.
In the St. C. fourth, Kinnick's line drive hit to left plated Evick and Vincenzo. Kotopka's ribbie base rap scored Busby and it was 9-1.
Fort Frye mustered a pair of fourth inning hits for its only tally of the afternoon before St. C. ended it in the sixth.
Kinnick singled and moved to third on Kotopk'a third hit of the day. Another wild pitch sent Kinnick home for the final reading.
"I thought we came in focused today," Sliva stated. "Under no circumstances did we expect to win this game by 10 runs. As usual, Fort Frye has an excellent program. We just executed very well at the right times."
Kotopka's three-hit, four RBI performance paced the win. Kinnick connected for three singles. Busby was on base four times and scored three runs.