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Creek captures first district title



DISTRICT CHAMPS — The Indian Creek baseball team celebrates winning the Division II East 2 District championship game Wednesday. The Redskins edged Tri-Valley, 1-0, at Buckeye Trail to advance to next week’s regional tournament. – Andrew Grimm

LORE CITY — Runners up no more.

Indian Creek and veteran head coach Mike Cottis had been to the district championship game before, eight times, only to see their hearts broken. Not this time.

That all changed Wednesday.

The Redskins got a complete game gem from Sal Barcalow and used some small ball to get the game’s only run to edge state-ranked Tri-Valley 1-0 and claim the school’s first baseball district championship on the turf field at Buckeye Trail.

“These guys have so much heart, so much dedication,” Cottis said following the celebration and trophy presentation. “I can’t say enough about them. It’s such a tight group, they want to do everything together. They come to work every day and earned this. I am so proud of them.

“I can’t put into words what this means to the program. We’ve worked so hard for so many years, we’ve had so many great players throughout the years and just couldn’t kick down the door. We’ve been so close.

“These guys did it for everybody that’s been a part of this program.”

Barcalow needed just 90 pitches to go the distance, scattering five singles and walking just one batter. After the fourth-seeded Redskins took the lead in the top of the sixth, the right-hander did not allow another hit.

He worked out of jams in the middle innings, leaving runners on second and third in the bottom of the third, then leaving the bases loaded an inning later. He made a key play himself for an out in both innings, tagging a runner headed for home and getting his only strikeout at a key moment in the fourth.

“What an effort,” Cottis said of Barcalow’s performance. “We talked all day (Wednesday) about what he needed to do mentally to stay in this game the whole way and he bought in. He stayed calm when he faced adversity and just did an amazing job of pounding the zone and making them earn everything.

“They had some traffic on the bases and we bared down and made some great plays in the field. We got a pickoff in the first inning, a caught stealing in the first inning, we made some great plays in the outfield.”

While, thanks to Barcalow and the defense behind him, Creek (19-6) was able to overcome a couple of early errors and keep the second-seeded Scotties (22-3-1) off the board, it was what ended up being the only mistake by Tri-Valley that led to the game-deciding run.

Deadlocked in a scoreless tie through five, Ty Householder led off the top of the sixth by drawing a walk. He moved over to second on a well-executed sac bunt by Nick Maurer, then, Landon Pownall put the ball in play and the Tri-Valley infield made its only error of the game as the throw sailed well high and wide of first base.

Being a heads-up base runner, Householder watched the throw miss the mark and kept on running around third and dove into home plate for what proved to be the winning run.

Barcalow worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth, then retired the first two in the seventh. The Scotties’ Ethan McClellan, down to the last strike, put a grounder in play and Creek’s third error of the game extended things and made for some tense moments on the Creek side of the crowd.

Barcalow again got up in the count on the next man, a 1-2 pitch just fouled off nearly ending it. The next pitch, however, did end it, though, as a pop up was squeezed by shortstop Landon Pownall for out number three to secure a program first trip to the regional tournament.

Tri-Valley’s Gavin Harrold took the tough luck loss, striking out nine and giving up just two singles in allowing only the unearned run.

Creek will meet a familiar foe in that inaugural regional trip as they are slated to look for some revenge against St. Clairsville (26-3), who topped New Philadelphia in the other East District bracket final on Wednesday.

The teams have met three times this season, the Red Devils taking all three meetings, including in the OVAC 4A Championship game.

That game is scheduled for 5 p.m. May 30 at Harrison Central’s Mazeroski Field.

OHSAA Division II

East 2 District Championship

At Buckeye Trail High School

No. 4 Indian Creek 1, No. 2 Tri-Valley 0

Indian Creek 0-0-0 0-0-1 0 – 1 2 3

Tri-Valley 0-0-0 0-0-0 0 – 0 5 1

INDIAN CREEK (19-6): Barcalow (WP, CG, 0R, 5H, 1K, 1BB, 1HBP) and Rusnak. L. Pownall S; G. Pownall S.

TRI-VALLEY (22-3-1): Harrold (LP, CG, 1R, 0ER, 2H, 9K, 2BB) and Drummonds. Harrold 2S; Kaufman S; McClellan S; Better S.

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