CHILLICOTHE - That long bus ride to Ross County was worth it after all.
Tom Sliva's St. Clairsville Red Devils made the 2 hour, 45- minute journey to Thursday's Division III Regional Tournament a winning proposition, then decided to stick around for another day.
Riding a superb above-and-beyond the call mound performance from senior Sammy Vincenzo, St. C. scored a 4-0 semifinal shutout of Frankfort Adena at the VA Memorial Stadium complex.
Thursday's decision had the Red Devils back at it this afternoon (12:30), opposing defending regional champ Wheelersburg for a berth in next weekend's OHSAA state event at Columbus.
Entering Thursday's action at 24-5, Adena's Warriors had not been shut down all spring by an opposing pitcher the caliber of Vincenzo.
The Potomac (W.Va.) State Junior College recruit allowed three hits and four baserunners in a masterful outing which consisted of 15 strikeouts and one walk.
Vincenzo was coming off similar heroics in the Red Devils' district triumph against Tusky Valley in which the slender southpaw also compiled 15 punchouts.
"All the credit to Coach Sliva for calling a great game and (catcher) Riley Carlton for being a rock behind the plate," Vincenzo said.
Thursday's victory has Sliva's team a single victory from qualifying for the big dance.
"This is what happens when you dedicate yourself to (off-season) conditioning and weight-lifting," Sliva said. "I know other teams do that as well, but our kids have definitely invested some long hours and (this) is a great reward for all that hard work."
St. Clairsville scored single runs in each of the first four innings and Vincenzo made sure that total would stand up.
"We knew (Vincenzo) was a good one and he proved that here today," offered Warriors' skipper Ed Yates. "He kept us off balance and we never could put together a good productive inning."
St. C. went to work quickly against Adena starter Griffen Bowdle. Ben Evick drew a leadoff walk, advanced on a Vincenzo base rap and scored on D.J. Busby's single.
Yates wasted no time yanking Bowdle and bringing on his son, ace righthander Kirk Yates who worked out of additional first inning trouble.
St. C., however, manufactured a second inning run after Evick went opposite field with a clutch two-out hit. After the Devils' leadoff hitter swiped second base, Vincenzo lined an RBI single to make it 2-0.
In the third, Busby reached via a leadoff hit. The senior stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch, then managed to avoid a home plate tag following Luke Smith's sacrifice fly which made for a 3-0 lighting.
Senior Chris Milhoan reached on a Warrior error to open the fourth. Following a Greyson Loweecy single to centerfield, Vincenzo delivered his third hit of the day, a double down the right field line to make it a 4-0 encounter.
"I liked our aggressiveness at the plate," Sliva said. "We got off the bus with confidence, then went out and played like it."
Vincenzo's three hits led the attack. Busby contributed a pair of base knocks. Kirk Yates doubled for Adena's only extra base knock.