STEUBENVILLE - For Post 33, there is no place like home.
After dropping five straight during a weekend trip to Shelby, N.C., the local American Legion squad returned to the friendly confines of Vaccaro Field Tuesday and earned a 7-2 victory over Richmond Post 740.
"It's nice to get a win after a trying weekend," Post 33 coach Mark Stacy said. "We ran into a bunch of teams that were loaded with Division I baseball players. I thought we hung in there well except for one game. Our pitchers threw well, the defense failed us a little and runs were just hard to come by against really good pitching.
"We think we are better for it. We don't feel like we are going to face anyone going forward that's better than what we faced in North Carolina. We have to continue getting better and become a good tournament team."
Against its regional rival, Post 33 took advantage of seven walks, four hit batsmen and a couple of sacrifice flies in improving to 10-7.
After spotting Richmond a 1-0 lead, Steubenville responded with a pair of tallies in the home half of the first. Bryan Pierro and John Linn worked Post 740 starter Brian Flack for walks. They both scored on Pat Pizzoferrato's bloop single to left.
Post 33 7, Post 740 2
Post 74 1 0 0 0 1 0 0-2 6 0
Post 33 2 0 0 0 4 1 x-3 2 1
Post 740 (7-9): Flack (LP, 5BB, 1K, 1HBP) Krantz (5, 1BB, 2K, 3HBP) and Skeeles. Wise 2S; Horan D, RBI; Marcus S; Woodward S, RBI; Evans D.
Post 33 (10-7): Zorne (1BB, 2K) Ferguson (3, WP, 2BB, 1K) and McClurg. Pierro S; Linn S; Petrides S; Pizzoferrato S, 3RBI; Jones RBI; Porreca RBI; McClurg RBI.
Stacy's club broke things open in the fifth, plating four runs on just one hit (a Niko Petrides single). Flack issued a free pass to Linn before Petrides grounded his base hit to right. Tyler Krantz took over on the hill for Post 740 and immediately hit Pizzoferrato to load the sacks. Linn raced home on a pass ball to put Steubenville ahead 3-2.
Chris Murphy was clipped by a pitch to re-load the bases. Branden Jones walked to plate Petrides and Pizzoferrato touched home after Aleks Porreca was nailed by a Krantz pitch. The final tally came via a Kai McClurg fly to center.
Post 33, which entertains St. Clairsville today, added an insurance run in the sixth. Linn started the frame with a single up the middle. He moved to second on a wild pitch then swiped third. Pizzoferrato's fly to center brought Linn home.
Richmond's initial run came via Clay Woodward's RBI single to left. His base knock scored Nolan Marcus, who dropped a two-out hit into left. Sam Davis's unit knotted the score at two in the fifth. With two down, Tanner Wise reached with a single. Austin Horan then blasted a double to deep left, scoring Wise.
Post 740 outhit the winners six to four. Wise had two singles to pace Richmond, now 7-9.
"Seven walks and four hit batsmen," Davis responded when discussing the outcome. "If you hold Steubenville to four hits, you should be in pretty good shape. We just have to score more runs.
"We're still not hitting the ball the way we should. We have to keep working and improve offensively. It was one of those games with a very consistent but tight strike zone both ways and that was fine."
Anthony Zorne started on the hill for Post 33, working the first two innings. He gave way to Devin Ferguson, who earned the win.
"I was happy with the way Anthony threw," Stacy commented. "We're trying to set our pitching rotation up for the weekend in Chillicothe. He threw less than 30 pitches.
"Devin has been efficient for us. He gets guys to put the ball in play. He didn't throw many pitches either. I'm real happy with our pitching."
Post 33 played solid defense behind both pitchers. Murphy made several fine plays at third and Pizzoferrato ended Richmond's fifth inning rally by running down a Marcus fly to deep left.
Shortstop Pierro went deep in the hole to retire Woodward in the sixth and started a key seventh inning double play. Tanner Evans belted a two-bagger to deep left to begin Richmond's final at bat. Collin Skeeles then walked. Aidan Pasiuk drilled a sharp liner that Pierro snagged before flipping the ball to Linn at second, erasing Evans.
"We played well tonight defensively," Stacy commented. "There were little things on our trip that we didn't do well. As we play more games, we'll clean that up. I feel we are a better defensive club that we have shown to date.
Flack and Krantz recorded three strikeouts for Post 740, which entertains Tusky County today.
"I was real happy with the way Brian pitched overall," Davis commented. "Then I brought Tyler into a very tough situation without a change to really warm up.
"We're just not being as consistent as we need to be at the plate. We had some hard hits tonight but two runs are not going to win too many games. We need to continue working and improving. Teams that improve the most during the season are the teams that have a shot in the tournament. Our biggest concern is the offense. We have guys who can throw strikes and our defense is pretty solid but we have to improve offensively."