LEETONIA - Down by eight heading into the bottom of the second inning, it was already a long game for the Leetonia baseball team on Thursday.
With wind gusts blowing at steady intervals and the temperature dropping lower into the 40s with every pitch, it would have been very easy for the Bears to lose their focus against rival Columbiana.
Instead the launched into an unlikely comeback and ended up turning the tables on the Clippers for a 17-13 victory.
"When we were down 11-3, I was worried," Leetonia coach Jim Green said. "That big inning in the bottom of third got things turned around though."
The Bears (8-2) scored six runs in that third inning. Nick Altomare had a two-run single and Ian Sevenich had a two-run double to key the rally. Sevenich, who went 4 for 4 with two singles, a double, a triple and six RBIs, gave the Bears their first lead with a two-run single in the fourth inning off Clipper reliever Kane Kyle to make it 14-13.
"It's a great feeling to beat them," Sevenich said. "There's nothing better than beating your rivals."
Luke Janci earned the win after 2 1/3 innings of relief after Mike Thorne had a rocky 1 2/3 innings to start the game in which he gave up 11 runs on nine hits. The Bears also made five of their nine errors in the first two innings. Senior ace Cody Stokes came on in the bottom of the fourth and struck out four in three innings of scoreless relief for the save.
"We have to get better on defense," Green said. "We made too many mistakes. We're not going to win too many games if we play like that."
On Thursday it was good enough though as Columbiana's inexperience - especially on the mound - was very apparent. The Clippers' three pitchers combined for 11 walks and three hit batters.
"It was embarrassing," Columbiana coach Scott Knox said. "That's all I have to say."
The Clippers, who lost to Mineral Ridge 6-5 on a steal of home plate on Wednesday, fell to 6-6.
For the Clippers, Hank Schlueter had a single, double and two RBIs. Steve Slater had two hits and an RBI. Garret Patrick had two singles and two RBIs as did Bryce Franken. Steve Kurilla had a two-run single, while Nathan Garafalo had a double.
Leetonia was able to pad its lead with three runs in the fifth. Apart from Sevenich, Altomare went 2 for 2 with three RBIs and three runs. Brandon Dattilio had two doubles and an RBI.
The Bears opened the season by going 7-0 before two losses to McDonald derailed things earlier in the week.
"We got run-ruled the first game against McDonald," Green said. "I was not happy. When we played them in Leetonia, we had them down 4-0 the whole game and then they scored five on us in the sixth. That was a heartbreaker."