Caldwell wins 1st Ohio Valley Athletic Conference baseball title

STEUBENVILLE – Caldwell got off the bus ready to play when it arrived at Vacarro Field Saturday afternoon for its first appearance in the OVAC Baseball Championship.

Shadyside, meanwhile, simply couldn’t match the Redskins’ intensity and throw in the fact that Redskins’ pitcher Caleb Heller mixed his deceptive speed with impressive off-speed stuff.

The end result was a decisive 9-1 victory for the Redskins and another year to wait and see if the Tigers (7-5) can hang their third baseball championship banner.

“Some of our kids just didn’t come ready to play and some of them folded like soup sandwiches,” Shadyside head coach Mike Meintel said. “I am so embarassed. We didn’t come to play today. I know we were in the gym for a week, but we certainly could have given a better account of ourselves than we did today.”

The Redskins (11-7) got on top in the bottom of the first inning when Heller and Tanner Clark both singled and stole bases. After a walk loaded the bases with one out, Nick Roberts dropped down a beautiful suicide squeeze to bring Heller home.

Basically, Shadyside never recovered.

Heller continually worked ahead in the count and until the Tigers scored an unearned run in the sixth, many Shadyside hitters came back to the dugout shaking their heads.

Until that sixth inning, Shadyside didn’t have a runner reach third base and had only one hit. It finished with just three singles in the game.

“Give Caldwell the credit because they came ready and did a great job,” Meintel said.

“The inactivity and being in the gym since last Saturday’s (OVAC semifinal) game hurt us, but at some point guys just have to step up and play. These guys have to grow up and learn to come to play. Some of them talk the talk, but they can’t walk the walk.”

While Shadyside was struggling to find any sort of offensive groove, the Redskins added on a pair of runs in the third, a trio in the fourth and then answered the Tigers with a three spot of their own.

“These kids were just unbelievable,” Caldwell head coach Brian Wheeldin said. “We kept pressure on (Shadyside) the entire game offensively and that’s exactly what we wanted to do. This is a testament to these kids and how they’ve come together as a team.”

Heller finished the complete game by retiring the Tigers in order. He finished with five strikeouts, two walks and a plunked a batter.

Shadyside’s Colton Campbell drove in the Tigers’ run on a fielder’s choice.