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LIMA — The adage in baseball is that if you are going to get a good pitcher out of the game get him early. Upper Scioto Valley had this opportunity against Delphos St. Johns hurler Curtis Geise when the Rams loaded the bases with one out in the first inning.
However, the hard-throwing Blue Jay righty promptly struck out the next two batters and then settled into a groove to pitch Delphos past USV, 9-0, in the Perry Division IV sectional final Tuesday night.
In his seven innings of shutout ball, Geise, who pounded the outside corner all game, scattered four hits, walked two and fanned 12 Rams.
The Rams finish the season at 12-8. Delphos, top-seeded in the bracket, improves to 16-5 on the year and advances to the Elida district May 16.
Rams head coach Frank Crea said it was uncharacteristic for his young squad not to score any runs in the bases-loaded situation, but admitted the Rams ran into a quality arm in Geise
“We knew we had to come out and hit and we got one out with the bases loaded in the top of the first and don’t score a run, that is not our game,” Crea said. “In the 12 victories we had we would plate two or three in that inning but we ran into a buzzsaw and he pitched pretty well today.”
Blue Jays skipper Dan Metzger said getting out of the jam in the first helped his team shake off those first postseason game jitters.
“Baseball is a game of momentum and to get ourselves out a jam in the first inning without having to give up anything and then coming back and answering by getting two on the board kind of put us in more of a relaxed mode.”
Metzger knows it was Geise’s pitching that really did the job and not just in the first inning but throughout the contest.
“Curtis did an outstanding job on the mound,” Metzger said. “He was mixing his pitches up and hitting his locations really well. He kept them off balanced with the offspeed but then coming with a lot of fastballs to put them away.”
While Geise kept the Rams’ batters in check, his counterpart, sophomore Cole Crawford, continually battled in and out of trouble. Despite numerous errors behind him the crafty Crawford did all he could to hold the high-powered Blue Jays offense from exploding.
The Blue Jays manufactured two runs in the first inning and two more in the second to take a 4-0 lead. A wild pitch, two errors and three hits accounted for the four runs.
However, Crawford would toss two scoreless innings before yielding the fifth Delphos run in the fifth, with a costly Rams error allowing the run to score.
Four more Delphos runs came in the bottom of the sixth as errors, coupled with two key hits, allowed the Blue Jays to up its advantage, 9-0. In the end, Crawford surrendered seven hits, walked two and struck out four.
As a team, the Rams committed six errors, had three wild pitches, two passed balls and the Blue Jays swiped five bases. Right fielder Tanner Celvelage went 2-for-4 with two stolen bases, two runs scored and knocked in two runs.
“When you make a mistake it is magnified and all year long if we played the better teams if we make mistakes they magnify them and it is hard to come back from that, especially with the way that kid was pitching tonight.”
Ram Sean Hale went 1-for-1 with a double and two walks.
Crea said he was disappointed with the loss but praised the accomplishments of his team this season and sees more success in the Rams future.
“We had a great year,” the Rams skipper said. “We won our league title which is the first for USV in any sport in the Northwest Central Conference. These boys the last two years have won a total of 10 games. This year we won 12.”
Crea added that eight juniors return next year and Crawford is just a sophomore.
“We’ve got a good nucleus coming back next year. We want to play more guys like that,” Crea said referring to Delphos. “We want to schedule more teams like that to see where we stack up.”
USV 000 000 0 - 0
DSJ 220 014 x - 9
WP – Geise. LP – Crawford.
2B – Hale.
By JOSÉ NOGUERAS