STEUBENVILLE - The big inning helped Harrison Central easily pass its initial Division II sectional test Thursday at Vacarro Field.
The Huskies exploded for six runs in the third, added five more in the fourth and cruised to a 13-3 six-inning win over Buckeye Local. With the victory, Justin Clifford's club advances to Saturday's sectional co-final against Carrollton. The first pitch is set for 2 p.m.
The Mitchell boys (Rashaen and Kalub) played key roles for the Huskies, who split the regular season series with the Panthers.
YOU’RE OUT — Harrison Central’s Dustin Redish attempts to turn two as teammate Austin Kowalski looks on and Buckeye Local’s Eric Banal slides into second.
-- Mike Palmer
Rashaen, the senior southpaw, settled down after a rocky start (Buckeye scored all of its runs without the benefit of a base hit) to record the pitching victory. At the plate, he collected three singles and drove home a pair of tallies.
Kalub, a sophomore outfielder, delivered a key two-run, two-out double in the third to put Harrison ahead to stay. He finished with three RBIs.
"He (Rashaen Mitchell) didn't have best stuff today," Clifford said. "It's been 11 or 12 days since he pitched. He did have some bullpen sessions but it's different when you are out there in front of people. He didn't have his A game but he battled.
"He gave up three in the first, settled down after that and just battled. They got some guys on base but Rashaen bore down and got them out."
Rashaen Mitchell went five full innings, fanning five, walking five and hitting two. He allowed just four safeties. Freshman Bryson Porter came on in the sixth after Rashaen Mitchell issued a leadoff walk.
Rick DeLuca's Panthers took advantage of Rashaen Mitchell's early control issues to score the game's initial run (Eric Banal drawing a bases loaded walk). The two other tallies came via a fielder's choice and Harrison's only error of the contest.
The Huskies made it 3-1 when Dalton Rutter, who laced a sharp single to right and moved to third on Rashaen Mitchell's base knock, scored following Nick Pelegreen's sacrifice fly.
Clifford's crew, which left the bases loaded in the second, blew things open in the third. Pelegreen reached when Buckeye starter Chase Hopkins dropped an infield popup. Drew Horn followed with a single to left but was erased on Nick Staten's grounder to short. Rhett Kuryn delivered a two-out base hit, scoring Pelegreen.
Austin Kowalski walked to load the bases and set the stage for Kalub Mitchell's doubled to left-center. Rutter and Dustin Redish followed with base knocks. Harrison sent 10 batters to the plate in the third.
"That third inning was really a tribute to our guys," Clifford sated. "They never panicked in the dugout when we were down 3-0. It was like the score was 0-0. There was never a sense of hurry up. It was just play baseball and we'll be fine.
"Kalub had a huge a bat. That got us going and gave us the lead. Then Kuryn delivered. It wasn't the big two that did it all for us today. The other guys came through and it was a total team effort."
The Mitchells drove three of the five runs home in the fourth. Two Buckeye fielding miscues and a single by Horn also kept the Harrison scoring parade going. Twelve Huskies appeared at the plate during the frame.
Staten's single in the sixth plated Redish with the game winner.
"After the first inning, we fielded well, turned a nice double play in the sixth and played pretty well," said Clifford, whose squad now stands at 19-6.
DeLuca, who guided the Panthers to a 12-15 finish in his first season, called the third inning fielding miscue "a freak error."
"He had it in his glove, then rolled his glove and the ball came out," he indicated. "Sometimes when those things happen, it opens the floodgates. They took advantage of it. Once they smelled blood, they went after it.
"They are a very good team that is very capable of scoring runs. We had a good start but again, we had guys on and didn't score (Buckeye stranded seven runners after the first inning)."
Rashaen Mitchell's three singles paced the 12-hit Harrison attack. Rutter, Redish and Horn all had two hits each.
"We saw Carrollton the other day and they hit the ball and are real aggressive," Clifford stated. "They play in a good league and they battle. Being a basketball coach, I always say if you are a good in basketball, you are pretty good in those other sports and they have a heck of a basketball team.
"They have some athletes and it will be a battle. We'll need to play well."
Banal's fifth-inning double paced the Buckeye attack.
"We have six seniors (Austin Marshall, Shane Duncan, Brian Zeroski, Jonathan Roth, Lucas Ostijich and Tony Panepucci)," DeLuca pointed out. "They are all great kids and I couldn't have asked for a better group of seniors. I told them I wish I could figure out a way to keep them for another year.
"We have an even balance of players from the various grades. The bulk of our pitching staff is juniors and we'll have a lot of talent coming back. We'll be good next year. We had good leadership this year and having some key players back next year will really help. This has been an enjoyable season."
Harrison Central 13, Buckeye Local 3
Buckeye Local 300 000 - 3 5 7
Harrison Central 106 501 - 13 12 1
BUCKEYE LOCAL (12-15): Hopkins (LP, 2BB, 3K, 1HB) Marshall (3, 2BB, 1K) Ostijich (5, 1W, 0K) and Sokolowski. Banal D, RBI; Hopkins S; Zeroski S; Rose S; Williams S.
HARRISON CENTRAL (19-6): R. Mitchell (WP, 5BB, 5K, 2 HB) Porter (6 0BB. 0K) and Staten. R. Mitchell 3S, 2RBI; Rutter 2S, RBI; Redish 2S; Pelegreen RBI; Horn 2S; Kuryn S, RBI; K. Mitchell D, 3RBI; Staten S, RBI.