CAMBRIDGE - Big players come up big in big games.
It might be cliche, but Greg Kanavel gave more credence to the phrase Monday evening at Don Coss Field.
The West Muskingum ace struck out three straight Barnesville batters with the bases loaded in the seventh inning to cement the Tornadoes' 3-1 victory in an Ohio Division III sectional opener.
The triumph was Kanavel's eighth against one loss and helped put West Muskingum (11-10) into the next round against powerful Fort Frye.
The Shamrocks finished their season at 7-14.
''We just couldn't get a big hit,'' Barnesville head coach D.J. Butler said.
That's true. The Shamrocks left 11 runners on base, including three in the final frame.
''We played until the last out of every game (this season),'' Butler noted.
Now, Monday's last out came a little later than usual thanks to Mother Nature.
The game was supposed to begin at 5 p.m., but lightning delayed its start until about 5:40 p.m. Then, just before the start of the top of the seventh, a thunderstorm skirted City Park, causing the game to be stopped for another half hour or so.
When West Muskingum's defense returned to the field, Kanavel came back out, too. Butler thought he'd probably be tight after the delay and hoped it would work to his team's advantage. Instead, some fielding miscues did.
Leadoff batter Auston Hannahs started the inning by sending a shot to second. The second baseman couldn't handle the ball and Hannahs ended up at first on the error.
Jacob Keiser walked and then David Brown connected on a single to load the bases with no one out.
But Kanavel stood strong, fanning the next three Shamrocks to end the game.
''To his credit, he made some good pitches right there at the end,'' Butler said.
Barnesville also left the bags juiced in the second inning and failed to build on the 1-0 lead it built during the first.
There, with Hannahs and Brown on base, Mitchell Wells dropped a single to right to bring Hannahs home.
It was the start of a solid game for Wells, who finished with two singles and only allowed five hits on the mound, despite taking the loss.
He only allowed more than one hit in one inning, but that proved to be all the Tornadoes needed.
With two out in the bottom of the third and a runner on first, Kanavel and Jordan Hunkins belted back-to-back RBI doubles to almost the same exact spot in right centerfield giving West Muskingum a 2-1 lead.
Moments later, an infield single by Jake Adlesik knocked in Hudkins and capped the scoring.
Collin Wilson finished with two singles for the Shamrocks.
Ohio Division III Sectional
West Muskingum 3, Barnesville 1
Barnesville100 000 0 - 1 7 0
West Muskingum003 000 x - 3 5 0
B - Wells lp (2K, 6W), Hannahs (6) (0K, 0W) and Brown. Hannahs 2S; Wells S, rbi; Wilson 2S.
W - Kanavel wp (9K, 2W) and Schultz. Cordial D; Kanavel D, rbi; Hunkins D, S, rbi; Adlesik S, rbi.
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