BELLAIRE - Buckeye Local and Bellaire each received a clutch pitching performance Saturday afternoon in baseball action at Chase Field.
The Panthers used the right arm of Austin Marshall in winning Game One by a narrow, 2-1, margin, while the Big Reds' Dalton Conroy came on in relief and hurled the hosts to an 8-5 win for the split.
In the opener, Marshall spun a crafty 3-hitter with three strikeouts. The lone run he allowed scored after a third strike was dropped and the ball was throw away in the fourth inning.
"Austin has done very well for us this season," Buckeye Local head coach Rick DeLuca noted of his ace, who is now 4-0 on the mound. "The funny thing about it is that he has seven or eight triples this season and everyone thinks of him as a hitter, but he's been our go-to guy on the mound, and he's responded."
He also drove in the Panthers' initial run with a first-inning single that plated Shane Duncan, who had also singled off Bellaire's Wyatt Back.
With the game deadlocked at one in the fifth, Buckeye Local (6-6) pushed across the eventual game-winner. Josh Sokolowski was hit by a pitch with one out. He stole second on a bang-bang play with two outs and raced home on Duncan's line drive single to left.
Bellaire (6-9) stranded nine runners on base, with four of them being in scoring position.
"That's been the story for us all season. I can't remember the last time we got a clutch hit with runners in scoring position," Bellaire head coach John Patrone lamented. "We just can't get that big hit or string some hits together."
Patrone's son, Nick, had two singles off Marshall.
In the nightcap, the Big Reds tallied four times each in the second and sixth innings to earn the split.
Conroy took over for starter Hunter Westlake in the second inning. He finished up, striking out one and walking four.
"Dalton did a really good job," Coach Patrone said. "He's asked for the ball just about every day. Today we gave it to him and he did the job."
He also helped out at the plate with a pair of singles and a double that plated two runs. Nathan Steele singled and had two RBI, while Brendon Ross singled twice and picked up a run batted in. Dom Vinka also singled home a run.
Eric Banal drove in two runs for the Panthers with a single and double. Josh Sokolowski and Dominic Rose each singled in a run. Eric Williams collected an RBI.
Bellaire hosts St. Clairsville Monday. Buckeye Local is at Wintersville to meet Indian Creek the same night.
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