Rebels oust Vikes

COLUMBIANA – Crestview senior Austin Eskra allowed only three hits in a complete game effort as the Rebels cruised to a 7-1 win on Tuesday in a Division III sectional opener against Waterloo.

Crestview scored six runs in its second at-bat and that proved to be more than enough for Eskra who was glad to get the call in his team’s first tournament game.

“It’s a little different come tournament time,” Eskra said. “It’s really just another game, but you’re more excited to play these ones because you know if you lose one you’re done. Coach has been preaching to us that we need to survive and advance and that’s what we did.”

With the win, the Rebels improve to 18-7 on the season and will host Girard at 4 p.m. today.

Crestview coach Matt Strank said Eskra’s complete game has set the team up for what he hopes is a successful tournament run.

“He’s a three-year starter for us and does a fantastic job,” Strank said. “I don’t expect anything else from him. It’s a blessing to get seven innings from him. We didn’t have to use anyone else and that sets us up well moving forward.”

The Rebels got contributions up and down the lineup including a second inning where all nine in the order stepped to the plate.

Dylan Hart and Zach Thompson started the rally with back-to-back walks to open the frame. After Michael McDonough moved the runners over, Evan Nentwick came through with a two-RBI single to open the scoring.

Andrew Batchelor, Anthony Marnejon and Jake Ferris all doubled in the inning as Crestview took a 6-0 lead.

“I was a little worried coming in because we’ve had four days off,” Strank said. “They had prom over the weekend and I wasn’t sure how we’d look, but we put enough together to advance.”

Waterloo starter Daniel Buckley settled in after the second inning and allowed only one run the rest of the way.

Ferris scored Crestview’s final run of the game in the fifth inning on an infield single by Thompson.

Marnejon finished with two hits and two RBIs to lead the Rebels. Nentwick had two RBIs, while Batchelor and Thompson knocked in the other Crestview runs.

Eskra finished with six strikeouts and four walks over seven innings while allowing only three base hits.

For Waterloo, Buckley also struck out six and walked four over his six innings of work.

Chase Cooper, Thomas Diven and Brandon Chalmers had the Vikings’ three hits, all singles.

Crestview’s attention now moves to its next opponent.

“We played Girard in our last game and beat them 6-5 in the seventh inning,” Strank said. “I don’t know much about Newton Falls. Regardless of who we play, it just gets tougher from here on out.”

Game notes

Eskra said he enjoys the pressure of pitching in his team’s first postseason game, a feeling that is familiar to him.

“I got to throw our opener last year,” he said. “It’s always fun to start the postseason. Now, we just have to come back and try to do the same thing.”

Eskra’s best work came in a scoreless game in the second inning. After a leadoff single was followed by a base on balls, Eskra struck out three Waterloo batters in a row to retire the side. He also pitched a one-two-three final frame against the top of the Vikings’ lineup and finished with a strikeout.

Windy conditions proved to make play difficult on fly balls. The Vikings misplayed several pop-ups that, when hit, appeared to be routine outs.