STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Crestview Rebels used an eight-run seventh inning to knock out Cardinal Mooney 10-3 to capture the Division III District Championship Wednesday night at Cene park.
The Rebels will now face Doylestown Chippewa next Thursday at Washington high School at 2 p.m.
Rebels Coach Dan Hill admitted that the Rebels had prepared for the moment by facing some tough competition throughout the regular season.
“I hate to keep going back to the schedule, but outside of our league, the only team that we played with a losing record I think was John Marshall,” he said. “We played Boardman. We beat Boardman. We played Weir. We played teams bigger than us to hopefully get us over this hump. We have never been in this position (before). So we needed to be a little bit battle tested.”
But it was the Cardinals who looked to be headed for a district title when they took advantage of a Rebel fielding error along with two base hits to grab a 3-0 lead after one inning of play. Dom Pecchia doubled to left field to plate both Jake Fonderlin and Bryce Ritchey making it 3-0.
After that first inning, the Rebels seemed to settle down and chipped away at the Cardinals as they scored single runs in the second and sixth inning to make it 3-2 heading into the final frame.
“We didn’t let the first inning dictate the way the rest of the game was going to go,” Hill explained. “That was key for us tonight. My thoughts didn’t change. ‘Worry about what we do’. That’s what we have been trying to preach. We can’t control the other team, and once we got to that point we were in pretty good shape.”
One big reason the Rebels were able to come storming back was the pitching of senior Jacob Crawford. Crawford would only surrender three hits over the final six frames of the game after allowing two hits in the first inning.
“I was a little intimidated by their hitting, but I just stayed behind my players and teammates and they stepped up and I just held them,” Crawford said. “After the first inning, I relaxed and started hitting my spots and felt more comfortable from then on.”
“He’s got a really nice cutter. He cuts his fastball and it just runs away and I think sometimes we had them a little bit indecisive about where the ball was going to go,” Hill added.
The Rebels flipped the fortunes of the game in the seventh inning when Mooney committed an error on the Rebels first batter Dylan Huff. Kaden Davis followed with a single and Payton Wolfe brought Huff home with a single of his own, tying the game at 3-3.
The Rebels would break the game open when Brandon Chuey hit a fly ball to left field that was dropped by the Cardinals fielder, bringing Davis around to make it 4-3 Rebels. After a sacrifice bunt by Dylan Ball, Tyler Fitzsimmons and Caleb Hill both singled to push the Rebels out to a 7-3 advantage.
Fitzsimmons would lead the Rebels in batting on the night by going three for four with a run scored and one RBI. Caleb Hill and Devin Turvey would each go two for four with Hill knocking in two runs and Turvey with one.
“I don’t really care about my performance,” a humble Fitzsimmons remarked. “I just care about the scoreboard and winning a district championship.”
“He has been our hard-luck hitter the last three games. All in the tournament, but he didn’t give up on what he is suppose to do and he hit the ball hard (tonight),” Dan Hill said.
“It’s a tremendous win for our school, our community, and our program,” Hill added.
CRESTVIEW 010 001 8 = 10 13 1
MOONEY 300 000 0 = 3 5 3
CRESTVIEW: Jacob Crawford WP (7 IP, 0 K, 1 BB, 2 HBP), and Tyler Hurd
MOONEY: Brennen Olesh LP (6.1 IP, 3 K, 0 BB), Antonio Page (0 IP, 0 K, 2 BB), AJ Pepperney (0.2 IP, 0 K, 0 BB) and Dean Lauer