Raiders’ Miller, Curry combine to shut out East Palestine, 4-0

GREENFORD – On a night better suited for football than baseball, South Range pitchers Mason Miller and Turner Curry were equal to the challenge.

The two righthanders combined for a no-hitter as the Raiders blanked East Palestine 4-0 Friday at South Range High School.

Pitching in frigid, blustery conditions, Miller raised his record to 3-0, striking out seveb of the 17 East Palestine batters he faced over five innings. Only three Bulldogs reached base against the senior, two via walks and one on a fielding error.

“My fastball was working very well tonight, and my curveball had some nice late movement to it” Miller said. “Even though it was really cold, pitching into the wind actually helped my breaking pitches a little bit.”

At the end of the fifth, with the Raiders ahead 3-0, South Range head coach Jim Hanek had a decision to make. Miller was working on a no-hitter, but had thrown over 80 pitches in a start last Monday. With his pitch count on Friday into the upper 70s through five innings, Hanek judged the risk on Miller’s arm too great and elected to bring in Curry to finish the game.

“I wanted to let him (Miller) finish it off,” Hanek said, “But we have big games coming up next week, and at this point in the season I did not want Mason wearing his arm out. It was a really tough decision though.”

“I understood the decision,” Miller said. “Turner (Curry) came in and did a great job. It was nice to share the no-hitter with him.”

Curry came in and slammed the door on the Bulldogs, retiring the final six batters in order with two strikeouts.

“We piched fantastic tonight,” Hanek said. “Both Miller and Curry gave a great effort and got right after their hitters. Our defense was also outstanding. it can be tough to field when it’s this cold and windy, but we played a very clean game.”

South Range got the only run it needed in the first inning when Zack Thorpe singled with two outs and came around to score on two botched pick-off attempts by East Palestine. The Raiders added two more in the third on an RBI double by Thorpe-who finished 2-3-and a fielders choice groundout by Ross Stoffer. The final run came in the sixth, courtesy of a balk by East Palestine reliever Nate Keylor.

“I don’t think we were mentally ready to play tonight,” East Palestine coach Adam Fill said. “A lot of our guys were thinking the game was going to be cancelled, and we just did not come out sharp tonight. When you are building a program there are going to be nights like this and we just have to learn from it and move forward.”

The Bulldogs fall to 5-6 overall and 1-6 in the ITCL upper-tier, they will travel to Jackson-Milton on Monday. The Raiders improve to 8-2 overall and remain undefeated in the ITCL upper-tier at 5-0, keeping pace with Springfield.

Game Notes

The game was originally scheduled to be played at East Palestine City Park, but, because of unplayable field conditions, was switched to South Range. The Raiders will travel to East Palestine later in the season for the teams’ second meeting. “That’s baseball in northeast Ohio,” Hanek said. “It’s just good that we were able to get out and play.”