WHEELING - The top three hitters in Steubenville Catholic's lineup helped take Wheeling Central to the woodshed Tuesday night at the J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex.
B.J. Grandinetti, Steve Mihalyo and Brenton Colabella combined to go 8-for-9, including three extra base hits and seven RBI, as the Crusaders rolled to a runaway 13-1 victory in a game halted after five innings by the mercy rule.
Grandinetti was the only Steubenville Catholic player in the top three spots to record an official out as he was retired on a ground ball to the shortstop in the second inning. During his other three plate appearances, Grandinetti was hit by a pitch, doubled in two runs and singled. He scored all three times he reached base.
Mihalyo, who limited the Maroon Knights (10-11) to four hits before being replaced on the mound in the bottom of the fifth, singled three times and tripled, driving in two runs.
Colabella doubled to knock home the game's first run, singled in the third frame and finished his perfect day at the plate with back-to-back sacrifice flies in the fourth and fifth frames, helping the Crusaders elevate their overall record to 18-5.
''We hit the ball a little better," said Steubenville Catholic coach Don Young, referring back to last Friday's loss to Linsly in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championship game.
''The top of the order had a real nice game. Our leadoff guy (Grandinetti) is the key for us. When he gets on, good things happen.''
Wheeling Central coach Jimbo Wodusky's never happy to lose a game by any score but he offered some favorable comments to offer about the Crusaders.
''Fundamentally they do things right,'' Wodusky said. ''They run the bases better than any team I have seen this year. They put the ball in play and make all the routine plays in the field. I'm upset about the loss but I can't be mad at these guys because the other team outright beat us.''
The Maroon Knights' southpaw starter Nick Naumann plunked Grandinetti with the third pitch of the game to help the Crusaders get out of the gate. Mihalyo singled him to second and Colabella followed with a line drive that bounced out of the glove of a reaching John McFarland in right field. Grandinetti scored on the double and Jimmy Panella then walked loading the bases. Dave Bertoia picked up an RBI on a bounce out and a throwing error allowed the third run of the inning to cross the plate.
An excellent throw from Wheeling Central's Ian Yahnke to Patrick Biega cut down a runner trying to advance from first to third on Colabella's single to left field in the top of the third, snuffing out another potential rally.
However, Steubenville Catholic then put together back-to-back five-run innings to put the game away. Alex Porecca walked to start the top of the fourth, followed by two Central errors, resulting in a run. With Joe Irvin at first, the Crusaders then erupted with three straight extra base hits, the first two being doubles from Chris Murphy and Grandinetti, followed by Mihalyo's triple up the alley in left-center field. Colabella's sacrifice fly to center extended the lead to 8-0.
In the fifth inning, Irvin and Murphy drove in one run each with singles, a two-base error let in another run while Mihaylo then singled across a tally ahead of another sacrifice fly to center by Colabella.
Wheeling Central's only run came in the bottom of the fourth on one-out doubles by Mic Keys and Derek Yocke. The Maroon Knights got another double from Andrew Keane leaving off the bottom of the first. Anthony Tighe was hit by a pitch but with runners and first and third with out out, Keys' hard grounder to Colabella at shortstop was turned into a 6-4-3 double play.
Mihaylo was replaced on the mound by Adam Lyons in the bottom of the fifth. Lyons walked one but escaped unscathed when Colabella reached up and speared Tighe's base hit bid for the final out.