Ridge survives Heartland Christian

MINERAL RIDGE — The Mineral Ridge Rams advanced to a Division IV Struthers District sectional bracket final.

However, the first-round baseball game wasn’t easy at all.

Heartland Christian gave the Rams everything they could handle and then some as Mineral Ridge got by on Thursday, 4-3.

The game started out with an advantage for the young Lions team, with Tom Kling driving in Joey Donofrio and Aaron Gault to give the Lions a 2-0 lead.

“It was a tough game between two young teams,” Mineral Ridge coach Jamie Ferguson said. “Heartland Christian came out whacking away. They’re a young team with a bright future ahead of them — a good coaching staff. It was a tough game for both of us because we’re both so young.”

The Rams tied it up in the third inning with two runs. Taylor Squiric batted in Jake Carfalo and Koby Zupko to tie the game up.

Heartland Christian took the lead once again with Gault batting in Donofrio to give the Lions their final run of the game.

Carfalo was walked all around the bases in the fifth inning to score the tying run for the Rams.

An inning later, Zupko hit a double, allowing Wyatt Skruck to score the go-ahead run and set the Rams up for a victory.

Closing out the match on the mound was Squiric, coming in from first base. Squiric sent the ball flying past the batters for seven consecutive strikes before the final Lions hitter sent the ball toward first base for an easy tagout, ending the game and sending Heartland Christian home.

Koby Zupko was credited for the win, pitching 4 1/3 innings, and allowing only one run.

The Rams play the sectional bracket final at third-seeded Lowellville tonight at 5 p.m.

“Lowellville is a good team, a well-coached team,” Ferguson said. “We split with them in the regular season, so it’s going to be a dogfight there like it was here tonight.”