GLEN DALE - Coming off a lopsided loss to powerful Cambridge on Tuesday, John Marshall was sitting on the fence of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference playoffs and desperately needing a victory against Steubenville to sneak into Saturday's field of four in Class 5A.
While starting pitcher Josh McKown was not at his best and Coach Bob Montgomery's club was outhit, the Monarchs found a way to put one in the win column.
Todd Schmidt doubled home a pair of runs and recorded a huge out on the mound to the only batter he faced and McKown fanned nine and walked 10 but still got a victory in a key 6-5 victory against Steubenville at John Marshall High School on Wednesday afternoon.
John Marshall’s Evan Magers, left, slides home as Steubenville catcher Ryan Vojvodich waits for the throw Wednesday.
Photo by Rick Thorp
With the victory Montgomery's unit improves to 13-11 and should be settled into the No. 4 spot in the big school division while Fred Heatherington's Big Red falls to 11-5 but was already assured of a Class 4A spot coming in.
''Obviously we are not official, but according to our numbers we figure we are in,'' Montgomery said. ''All we can ask is for the kids to get us into the mix and give us a chance and that is what they did (Wednesday).
''We got one-hit by a very good Cambridge team on Monday, so it is nice to bounce back from that, but we have been able to do that this season.''
Steubenville missed a golden opportunity early, receiving four walks in the top of the first, but one runner was thrown out trying to steal and two others went down on strikes to end the threat.
On the other side of the coin, the Monarchs took advantage of their opportunity in the bottom of the second, using a Shane Wellman single, an error and designated hitter Jeremy Betras' two-run single to right field to open up a quick 2-0 lead.
John Marshall padded the cushion in the second, loading the bases with leadoff singles from Tyler West and Jeremiah Fromhart and a walk to No. 9 hitter Ryan Gellner.
Jake Lucas made it 3-0 with an RBI fielder's choice before Todd Schmidt's two-out, two-run bloop double down the left-field line pushed the count to 5-0 two batters later.
Big Red began chipping away in the third after Bryan Pierro walked, Lucky McClurg doubled to right and JoJo Pierro brought them both home with a triple into the right-center field gap to cut the deficit to 5-2. JoJo Pierro then crossed the dish on a wild pitch.
Steubenville added a fourth run on John Linn's infield single, but after starter Josh McKown walked his sixth batter to fill the bases again, Schmidt entered and prevented any further damage.
The visitors got back to even in the fourth. McClurg laced a lead-off single and stole second before scoring on Pizzoferrato's one-out, ground-rule double to make it 5-5.
John Marshall got one back in the home-half of the fourth on Big Red's fourth error, Lucas' single and Wellman's run-scoring sacrifice fly to left to go back on top 6-5.
Heatherington's squad, which stranded 10 runners through five frames, left the bases loaded for the third time in the contest in the fifth. McKown, who re-took the mound in the fourth, got McClurg to pop out before fanning JoJo Pierro to end the threat.
In all, Steubenville left 12 on the bases, eight in scoring position, and ended three different frames with the bases loaded.
''Unfortunately that is about our average,'' Heatherington said. ''We have been leaving a lot of runners on all season. It's just the way it goes, but now is not the time to be doing it.
''As soon as we are able to get some big hits we will win some games. We pitched well, we fielded the ball well, we just couldn't get runners in when we got them on.
''We gave them a 5-0 lead early, but hit the ball and got back into it. We had a chance to at least tie the game late and that is really all that you can ask for in that situation.''
Montgomery, meanwhile, was pleased with his team's effort.
''It was just a terrific baseball game,'' the veteran mentor said. ''We have been up and down all season long, but we are fielding the ball better right now and that seems to be making a difference.
''Josh (McKown) really hung in there, and Todd (Schmidt) came into the game and faced one batter and got us a huge out. We were in trouble pitching all day long with the hits and the walks, but we managed to get out of it most of the time.''