South Range lets it slip away

STRUTHERS-For the second straight year South Range and Ursuline squared off in the Struthers Div. III district title game.

For the Raiders, the result was painfully familiar.

The fourth-seeded Irish took advantage of five South Range errors on their way to an 11-2 rout over the third-seeded Raiders Thursday at Cene Park.

“Ursuline came out and jumped on us tonight,” South Range coach Jim Hanek said. “They got off to a fast start and were able to settle in.”

The Raiders (23-4) lost to Ursuline 11-1 in last year’s district title game, but the Irish lost a bulk of that team to graduation and South Range returned six seniors. South Range won the regular season meeting between the schools, 9-5.

“With where Ursuline was and where we were, we thought this might be our best shot to beat them and get out of the district,” Hanek said. “But they looked like they were peaking at the right time tonight. They are playing much better than when we played them earlier.”

It all came apart for South Range in a nightmarish second inning.

The Raiders were up 1-0 with one on and two out when they proceeded to make four errors in the span of five batters, opening the door to six unearned runs for the Irish. In the blink of an eye, the Raiders were in a 6-1 hole. Dion Felger led the Irish with three singles and three RBIs, while Michael Montalbano had a two-run triple.

“We were one play from getting out of the inning up 1-0,” Hanek said. “Things kind of snowballed on us. They hit some hard grounders that ate us up a little bit. When you’re in the middle of a stretch like that, it’s tough to snap out of.

It was never close the rest of the way as South Range was kept down the entire game by Ursuline’s number-two starter, sophomore Vinnie Lucente.

“We didn’t see him in the regular season game,” Hanek said. “He was throwing his slider really well tonight, it was tough for us to make good contact.”

Bill Goodall provided a first-inning spark for the Raiders with an inside-the-park home run to the fence in right.

“I squared the ball up really well,” Goodall said. “It’s a big park and I was able to make it all the way around. That gave us a little momentum early in the game.”

With the Raiders on out away from being mercy-ruled in the fifth, Goodall slapped an RBI single to left to extend the game an extra two innings. He accounted for all three Raider hits and had two RBIs.

“Nobody likes to be mercy-ruled,” Goodall said. “I was just trying to buy us a couple of extra chances. I’m proud that we kept fighting all the way to the end.”

Ursuline wins its fourth straight district title and will play either Gates Mills Gilmour or Garrettsville Garfield in a regional semifinal next Thursday at Massillon Washington High School.

Game notes

Goodall finishes the season with 56 RBIs. It is not yet known by South Range if that is a school record. He is considering playing baseball at Mount Union next year.

Ursuline beat South Range and Springfield (the two best teams in the ITCL upper tier) by a combined score of 18-3 in the district tournament.

“There is no question that the schedule we played prepared us very well for this tournament,” Ursuline coach Sean Durkin said.

S: 1-0-0-0-1-0-0-2-3-5

U: 0-6-2-3-0-0-x-11-12-0

U-Vinnie Lucente, wp, (7IP, 5K, 2BB) and Drew Potesta.

S-Tyler Baird, lp, (2IP, 0K, 1BB), Bill Goodall (1 1/3 IP 3K, 2BB), Dan Macinga (2 2/3 IP, 1K, 3BB) and Ryan Miller.