CAMBRIDGE - Ryan Rosnick had a visitor in his classroom Monday morning at Monroe Central.
Less than 48 hours after throwing upwards of 125 pitches in a eight-inning complete game against Martins Ferry in the Division III sectional opener, Kordell Antill did his best Jimmy Chitwood impersonation when he delivered a message to his coach.
"I wanted (the ball) in my hands," Antill said.
MONROE CENTRAL’S Ethan Groves slides safely into third base as St. Clairsville’s Dillon Busby tries to field the throw. The ball kicked away and Groves raced home for the Seminoles’ first run of the game. Monroe Central went on for a 6-3 victory against the Red Devils Wednesday in Cambridge.
Rosnick took his ace at his word and handed him the ball for Wednesday's sectional game against St. Clairsville inside City Park at Don Coss Field.
"It's kind of hard when it's a senior, who's had a lot of success, not to give him the ball when he really wants it," Rosnick said. "
After shaking off a rough start, Antill settled in and delivered in a big way - both with his arm and his bat- as the Seminoles eliminated the two-time defending district champion St. Clairsville Red Devils, 6-3.
"It's really impressive how well he was able to come back after Saturday," Rosnick said of Antill. "We knew St. Clairsville was going to be tough because their record is deceiving since they play against mostly bigger schools. But, we were able to get some offense going and got some confidence."
Antill and the Seminoles actually spotted the Red Devils a 3-0 lead. St. C. pushed across single runs in the first, third and fourth.
The Devils actually missed a golden opportunity in the first. They actually strung three consecutive hits together to start the game, but a double was taken out of the book after the runner missed first base.
They also had a runner picked off first before Antill escaped without further damage.
"I thought we had some chances early, but we left a few guys on and didn't run the bases as well as you need to," said St. Clairsville head coach Tom Sliva. "In big games, all of the little things matter and those (mistakes) definitely hurt."
The Seminoles, who had just two base runners in the first four innings, got it going in the fifth, taking advantage of a trio of Devils' errors.
Catcher Ethan Groves raced home with the first run after he stole third and the throw hit the bag and ricocheted into foul territory. Alertly, Seth Alleman moved up 90 feet when the ball was booted by a Devils' defender.
St. C. starting pitcher Brandon Carrothers struck out the next hitter, but ninth hitter Brian Duffy singled home Alleman.
Antill worked the count in his favor and took a hanging curve ball deep into the Cambridge afternoon for a 2-run home run, putting the Seminoles on top and chasing Carrothers.
"Kordell likes to see hanging curve balls, and as soon as he hit it, I knew it was gone," Rosnick said. "He's got some pop."
All told in the inning, the Seminoles scored four runs and took advantage of three Red Devils' miscues.
"(Antill) is a good stick and just a heck of a player," Sliva said. "He's a heck of an athlete. To throw as many pitches as he did on Saturday and come back today and pitch as well as he did, was impressive."
When Antill returned to the bump for the home half of the fifth, he had an entirely new mindset.
"Once we got the lead, it made pitching a lot easier because I could relax," Antill said. "It was much easier to throw strikes. My arm hurt a little bit, but I wanted to make sure I put it in my hands."
The Seminoles added two insurance runs in the sixth when Tanner Burkhart singled, moved up on a wild pitch and then stole third. He was promptly driven in by Jacob Black on a base hit. He later scored on a wild pitch.
St. Clairsville had just two base runners after Monroe Central took the lead.
Antill finished with five strikeouts. He didn't walk a batter, but plunked one. He allowed eight hits.
"We did a lot of things to help get him ready," Rosnick said. "He's been getting massages, drinking a lot of PowerAde, heating it, icing it and he told me he'd be ready."
Monroe's offense had just six hits.
The Red Devilsreceived a two-hit performance from lead-off hitter Malik Gummer. Michael "Zuke" Jacob drilled a triple down the right-field line. Turner Provost had two singles and a like number of RBI. Luke Slavik - the Devils' frosh catcher - had a RBI base hit.
"The main focus of our speech (to the players) is we're a much better baseball team than when we started," Sliva said. "We learned a lot and now it's up to the kids to improve their skill set in the summer and do some things own their own because that's the only way they'll get better."
The win earns Monroe Central (17-10) a return trip to Guernsey County on Friday for a rubbermatch against Fort Frye with the survivor advancing to the district championship game next week in Warsaw.
Rosnick hasn't fully decided on who's going to take the bump against the Cadets, but he knows it won't be Antill.
Monroe 000 042 0 - 6 6 2
St. C. 101 100 0 - 3 8 4
Batteries: Antill and Groves. Carrothers, Hayes (5) and Slavik.
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