Walker’s pitching spawns fast win for Blue Devils

LISBON-With storm clouds building throughout Lisbon’s Division III sectional opener with Columbiana, Lisbon’s Eric Walker pitched like someone in a hurry in squeeze the game in.

The senior righthander tossed a complete-game two-hitter and supplied a two-run double as the fifth-seeded Blue Devils swept aside the 12th-seeded Clippers, 4-0, Wednesday at Allen Dickey Field.

“It was nice that we were able to get this game in and get a tournament win,” Walker said. “I was just trying to pound the strike zone and get ahead. My defense helped me out with a lot of solid plays.”

Sophomore Avery Andric also blasted a two-run homer as the Blue Devils (9-11) captured the program’s first tournament win since 2007.

Lisbon advances to face fourth-seeded Youngstown Ursuline at 4:30 today at Cene Park in Struthers. The winner will advance to next week’s Division III Struthers district tournament at Cene Park.

“We haven’t had one in a while,” Lisbon coach Doug Andric said “It’s a big confidence boost to experience a tournament win. Not only for the seniors to get one in their last chance, but also for the younger guys who can build on this.”

Walker’s pitching set the tone. He kept the ball down in the zone most of the game and mowed through the Clippers in a tidy one hour and 19 minutes, ensuring Lisbon could get out with the win before the advancing severe weather approached.

“It helped that because it was a tournament game we started at 4:30,” Lisbon coach Doug Andric said. “It also helped that both pitchers attacked the strike zone and threw nice games.”

Walker struck out five and walked one. The Clippers’ only got one runner to second base the whole night.

” Jagr (Groubert) called a great game behind the plate,” Walker said. “He’s a four-year starter and brings a lot of experience back there.”

“Eric spotted his fastball very well tonight,” Groubert said. He did a great job of making them hit the ball on the ground and our fielders took it from there.”

After Walker doubled off the left-field fence to give Lisbon a 2-0 lead in the third. Andric drove one over the same fence in the fourth to give the Blue Devils a 4-0 cushion. That was all Lisbon got off Columbiana freshman Mitch Davidson-who struck out nine and walked one-but it was all Walker needed.

“I just was trying to hit a line drive and swing nice and easy,” Andric said. “With the way Eric was pitching, it felt good to give him a lead.”

Columbiana finishes the season at 4-14. It was a year that was often difficult for first-year coach Brian Dickens, who was thrust unexpectedly into the job just before the season after Kyle Moore stepped down over an issue with his resume.

“Kyle brought me on as an assistant in December when he was hired,” Dickens said. “After he left they told me I had the varsity job.”

Dickens declined comment over the details of Moore’s departure or his brief time as head coach. He said there was some initial anger on the team, which probably affected their mindset early in the season. It took the Clippers well into April to get their first win of the year.

“It was a tough situation because he was the head coach all through practice and I was promoted right before the season,” Dickens said. “I had a meeting with the players and told them that although they had been burned, they could trust me. I’m very happy with how they responded and anxious to get another shot next year.”

Game notes

The home run was Andric’s second of the season. The other one came at Beaver Local

Groubert is slated to pitch today against Ursuline. The senior right-hander hope to draw confidence from his one-hitter against top-seeded Springfield in a regular-season game two weeks ago.

“It will be a fun experience to pitch in Cene Park against Ursuline,” Groubert said. “I just need to go out there and throw strikes like against Springfield.”

Lisbon won both regular-season games against Columbiana, 4-3 and 11-5. Neither team has any remaining regular-season makeup games.

C: 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-2-2

L: 0-0-2-2-0-0-x-4-6-1

L-Eric Walker, wp, (7IP, 5K, 1BB) and Jagr Groubert.

C-Mitch Davidson, lp, (6IP, 9K, 0BB) and Keenan Green.