TORONTO - Another big game, another dramatic victory. So it goes for the Big Red baseball team.
Justin Corsi rumbled home on a passed ball in the home half of the ninth to give Fred Heatherington's club a thrilling 6-5 triumph over Martins Ferry in the OVAC Class 4A championship game Friday night at the Knight Baseball Complex.
Hitless in his first four plate appearances, Corsi started the ninth with a sharp single to right. He moved to second on Devin Ferguson's sacrifice bunt and got to third via a Lucas Herrington ground out. Bryan Pierro was intentionally walked, placing Big Red runners at the corner with two outs.
Dimitri Collaros then worked losing pitcher Seth Scott for a walk. Scott's pitch on ball four got away from catcher Garrett Trudo, allowing Corsi to score the game winner.
"Our kids never say die," Heatherington said. "It's a great win for them. We chipped away and put a big inning together (Big Red scored three in the sixth to erase a 5-2 deficit). It's just the character of our kids."
Big Red, which rallied in its last at bat to clip Catholic Central 5-4 Thursday, now has won 20 OVAC championships, 10 under Heatherington. Steubenville last won a conference crown in 2011.
Big Red 6, Martins Ferry 5
Martins Ferry 000 230 000 - 5 6 3
Steubenville 100 103 001 - 6 9 1
MARTINS FERRY (11-8): Lloyd (4BB, 0K, 1HBP) Scott (5, LP, 8BB 5K) and Scott, Trudo (5). E. Baire D, S, 3RBI; B. Baire S; Jacob D, S; Vargo RBI; Sutton S.
STEUBENVILLE (16-4): Zorne (WP, 7BB, 17K) and McClurg. Pierro 2S, 2RBI; Collaros 2S; Zorne S, RBI; Petrides 2S, RBI; Corsi S; Peterson D.
Anthony Zorne was a warrior on the hill for Big Red, which entered the tournament as the top seed. The sophomore lefty went the distance, scattering six hits and recording 17 strikeouts. He held the now 11-8 Purple Riders hitless through the first three frames.
Anthony Reasbeck's squad, the second seed in Class 4A, got to Zorne for a pair in the fourth. Ethan Baire collected the RBI when he drilled a double to left center. Zorne escaped additional damage by whiffing the next hitter and inducing a fly to center.
Ferry put up a three spot in the fifth. The runs came via two walks, two singles off the bats of the Baire brothers (Brendon and Ethan) and a Big Red error. E. Baire and Robert Vargo had RBI for the Riders.
During the final four frames, Zorne allowed just two hits.
"I think the biggest thing that happened to him was getting called out on strikes when he had a chance to win the game (Zorne went down looking in the seventh with runners at first and third)," Heatherington commented. "He went right back out to the mound, shut them down and got us back in the dugout.
"Some kids might have pouted but he didn't. He just did his job. Walks hurt him early but he settled down and pitched well."
Big Red (16-4) got to Martins Ferry starter Lucas Lloyd for a run in the first. Collaros slapped a one-out single to left. Zorne then dropped a single into right and Collaros touched home thanks to a Ferry throwing error.
The second Steubenville tally came in the fourth. Kasey Peterson, who reached based four times, lined a double down the third base line. He moved to third on a Herrington grounder and scored when Pierro just beat out an infield hit.
As Heatherington noted, his unit put together a big inning in the sixth (it was 5-2 Ferry at the time). Peterson got things going again when he drew a free pass. Rob Agresta was inserted as a pinch runner and immediately advanced on a wild pitch. Herrington's grounder to short moved the runner to third. Pierro's single to center plated Agresta.
Collaros followed with his base knock of the game. After Scott recorded a big strikeout, Niko Petrides sliced a single to left, scoring Pierro. Brandon Jones drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Collaros raced home with the tying tally when Martins Ferry's catcher threw high to first on an attempted pickoff play.
Big Red threatened in the seventh and eighth but couldn't produce the big hit. Offensively, the winners finished with nine hits but stranded 15 runners.
Pierro, Collaros and Petrides had two hits each to pace the Big Red attack.
"It feels good," Heatherington said of winning the OVAC title. "I'm happy for the kids. We've worked hard all year. They deserve it."
Big Red will be back in action Tuesday, hosting Bellaire at Vacarro Field. The Big Reds fell in the Class 3A title game to Linsly Friday.