Harding gets baseball win over Rams

WARREN — The Mineral Ridge Rams tested their mettle against a larger school Thursday when they visited Warren to take on the Raiders. The Rams held their own, but Harding had a little too much and gained a 5-2 victory.

“We started five freshman this evening,” said Mineral Ridge coach Jamie Ferguson, whose team is 4-3. “A lot of our guys were a little bit leery of playing a bigger school like that, but they played a good ballgame. Harding hit the ball like they’re supposed to. We made a lot of plays. The couple we didn’t cost us a few runs. We hit the ball pretty well for being young. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how we played.”

The Raiders (3-6) put a pair of runs on the board in the first inning. Each team scored one run in the second.

Both pitchers tossed a scoreless third inning. Harding starter Sirr Redd, who earned the win with five innings pitched and two runs allowed, followed with a 1-2-3 top of the fourth. The Raiders then put two more runs up in the bottom half of the inning.

Jordan Adkins led off with a single. He stole second base and moved to third on a hit by Redd. Cavin Stouffer then crushed one to a gap in the outfield, driving in both Adkins and Redd.

Harding looked as though it was ready to break the game wide open after loading the bases with no one out. However, Ferguson made a timely pitching change which kept the Raiders at bay. He removed starter Payton Zupko in favor of Dom Medina. Medina had good command of the strike zone and got out of the jam.

“I threw two freshman pitchers at those guys, and they pitched pretty well,” Ferguson said. “Dom is the back-up catcher. He plays a little outfield. We’ve been working with him on pitching. He came in and threw strikes. He got some pop-ups and strikeouts.

“We’ve got Springfield coming up in the MVAC (Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference) showcase. We were second to them in the league last year. We’re looking to play them well and maybe put ourselves in league contention this year.”

Harding’s Noah Murry replaced Redd in the sixth and tossed two scoreless innings for the save. Smooth defense by his Raider teammate, shortstop Brandon Arnold, helped secure the win.

“We pitched well, and we played defense,” Raiders coach Andrew Burnett said. “That’s kind of what has been killing us. We left a lot of guys on base. Redd pitched really well. We have four more games this week and five next week. So, we’re just saving arms.”

There was no time to celebrate as the Raiders ran sprints after the post-game talk from Burnett.

“We’ve been talking about how we have to be better on the bases,” Burnett said. “We did a couple of boneheaded things out there today. So, we ran a couple of sprints just to let them know.”