Western Reserve rallies to beat McDonald

STRUTHERS — Small ball came up short for McDonald as Western Reserve rallies late for a 4-2 win in a Division IV district semifinal at Bob Cene Park Wednesday afternoon.

“Our kids left everything on the field and that’s all I can ask for,” McDonald coach Bill Ifft said.

McDonald took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning behind a strong pitching performance by Nick Shiley, striking out two and giving up no walks over six innings of work.

“Very close game through out,” Western Reserve coach Ed Anthony said. “When we were down 2-0 going into the sixth inning I grabbed our older guys that have been through this journey many times before and I told them, ‘You guys have had a wonderful three years but it comes down to this and that if we don’t get something going its going to end.’ And they all said they got it.”

Reserve was able to get the first two runners of the inning on base to set up runners on first and second for Jeep DiCioccio.

“I was seeing the ball well and I had a good approach the whole way through and I think that’s what really helped me do well for my team,” DiCioccio said.

With a 3-2 count DiCioccio found a pitch he liked and got a hold of it for a bases clearing triple to deep left field.

“I was so excited I don’t even remember running,” DiCioccio said after hitting his triple.

The next batter, Justin Ciccione, popped up to center field just deep enough to score DiCioccio from third for the game-winning run as the throw was just tardy.

Dom Velasquez doubled to center field and later came around to score for insurance, but not before some controversy.

Ryan Slaven hit a hard line drive to Calvin Wolford that deflected off of his glove as he made a diving attempt at the ball, allowing Velasquez to score.

It was ruled that Velasquez had missed third base after an appeal by McDonald, but after further conversations by the umpires Velasquez was ruled safe after it was ruled that Wolford obstructed his running lane.

McDonald took a 1-0 led in the top of the fourth after orchestrating a run. The lead off hitter, Nate Ifft, was able to reach base with a single, then stole second base on the first pitch. Dylan Portolese’s sacrifice bunt moved the runner over before Zach Wolf’s RBI single brought Ifft home.

“We saw some things when their third baseman was playing back, we’d bunt it down and the small ball worked,” coach Ifft said. “You do what you’ve got to do to push runs across against good teams.”

The same formula was used in the top of the fifth, and with a little help from Western Reserve with two errors in the inning, the Blue Devils took a 2-0 lead.

Velasquez was a force on the mound tossing six and a third innings and giving up just five hits. The lefty wanted to go the distance but ran out of gas late, forcing Wyatt Larimer to come in to record the last two outs and pick up the save.

“I left like I left it all out there tonight but just ran out of gas at the end but thank God we have Wyatt to come in and shut the door on them. He’s going to do a great job tomorrow night,” Valesquez said.

Western Reserve will take on Jackson-Milton in the Division IV district championship game tonight at Bob Cene Park with first pitch slated for 6:30.