Good Deal for Raiders

COLUMBIANA – Forced in to pitch after an injury to South Range starter Mason Miller just three batters into the game, fellow senior Cory Deal stepped to the mound and answered the call.

Deal pitched the final 6 1/3 innings in relief of Mason to help the Raiders remain unbeaten in the Inter Tri-County League upper tier with a 4-3 victory over Crestview.

“That’s a senior stepping up,” South Range coach Jim Hanek said.

Deal buoyed his team with his arm and his bat against the Rebels, striking out four and knocking in two for the Raiders.

“Our defense and offense has come together this year, which has allowed us to be 8-0 in the league,” Deal said. ” It was a whole team effort today, it wasn’t any one person, it was our whole team working hard together.”

South Range improves to 11-2 overall and 8-0 in league play. Crestview is 9-4 and 6-3 ITCL.

South Range was baffled early by Crestview starter Anthony Marnejon. The senior hurler tossed seven complete innings, and struck out nine. Marnejon fanned the first four batters he faced.

“(Anthony) Marnejon was throwing a great game, It’s frustrating to see our first three batters strikeout and another one in the fourth,” Deal said. “It’s always hard going against a lefty especially one that has speed.”

In the bottom of the first, an infield popup (when Miller and Deal collided) resulted in an injury to Miller and a run for the Rebels. Austin Eskra was able to score from second with two outs as Deal and Miller collided in the infield and the ball fell to the ground.

“It was really tough our starting pitcher going out in the first inning,” Deal said. “That was my fault, I should have called that one it’s never the pitcher’s ball.”

Deal made up for it by holding the Rebels scoreless through the next five innings. Only in the seventh did the Rebels break through.

“I thought it took us a little while to settle down and get him (Deal) timed up,” Crestview coach Matt Strank said. “We did hit the ball well at times but unfortunately we put the ball up in the air too many times for some easy flyouts that we just can’t do.”

With that early lead, Crestview had a chance to pile on more runs with the bases full of Rebels in the second. Deal then struck out Austin Eskra and got Marnejon to line out to avert any damage.

“Sometimes, like I told the boys, you have to make your own breaks and unfortunately, today we didn’t do that,” Crestview coach Matt Strank said. “We played well enough to win the game but we had the bases loaded with one out and we didn’t get a run in, that hurt.”

Those extra runs could have come in handy in the later innings.

Deal helped his cause on the mound with a pair of RBIs, none bigger than his double to right field in the seventh that scored Greg Dunham to provide some insurance.

“The hit it just kind of came I have been in a a slump a little bit,” Deal said. “So bringing that out was nice definitely a way to show some leadership as a senior.”

Deal scored to make it 4-1 when Zach Thorpe followed with a double down the third base line.

The Raiders needed that insurance, as the Rebels did not go quietly in the bottom half of the inning.

Andrew Batchelor led off with an infield single. Marnejon followed two batters later with a double to left to score Batchelor. Ferris then singled to left to score Marnejon and it looked like the Rebels were in business.

“I was happy to see the way we came out in the seventh inning and hit the ball,” Strank said. “That’s the way we’re capable of hitting all the time, I just wish we would have done that a little bit sooner.”

That’s all the closer Crestview came as Brandon Jayne popped out and Michael McDonough grounded out to end the game.

“We have beaten them once but that means they want to meet us 10 times more,” Deal said “You always say home field advantage is always better so that’s going to be another great game you can bet on it.”

Crestview hosts Springfield today while South Range hosts Poland.

Notes: Mason Miller left the game in the first inning with a lacerated tongue and mild concussion

“He has been one of our dominant pitchers,” Hanek said. “He had a 3-0 record coming into today.”