By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
MASSILLON -- John Angelo pitched the best game of his life and the Ursuline High baseball team is returning to the regional championship game.
Angelo, a powerful junior, used his complete pitching repertoire to hold Wellington High to two just hits.
Angelo struck out 14 batters as the Irish blanked the Dukes 6-0 in a Div. III regional semi-final at Schroeder Field Friday.
Today the Irish (17-9) will take on Chagrin Falls (25-2) at 1 p.m. for the regional title.
"John's gotten progressively better as the year went on," Ursuline coach Sean Durkin said of Angelo (6-3).
"He struggled a little bit earlier in the year, but once he found himself, his last five of six performances have been pretty dominating," Durkin said.
Dominating is a tame word for Angelo's showing.
After yielding a single and a double in the first two innings, the Dukes failed to get another hit off Angelo in the next five frames.
"We have all the confidence in the world when John is on the mound," Durkin said.
Tools and more: "Not only his physical tools, but the kid has a lot of character. That gives us a lot of confidence every time he takes the ball."
Angelo struck out three in the first inning, had six Wellington hitters struck out by the third and recorded a personal-best 14 strikeouts overall.
"I'd say that is the best I threw all year," Angelo said of his performance.
Angelo was a regular on the Ursuline state championship baseball team last spring and started on the Irish football state championship squad in the fall. All the victories have given him winning attitude.
"It's a real good experience just to play in these tournaments," Angelo said.
"The defense played excellent. There were a few balls hit that could have got me in trouble early, but our defense played tough and got me out of the jams."
One of the plays that caught the attention of Angelo came in the sixth inning when the leadoff hitter for Wellington walked.
Irish second baseman Erin Satterlee fielded a groundball, tagged the runner and threw to first for a double play that ended the threat.
"Erin is an excellent defensive second baseman," Durkin said. "Nothing he does there really surprises me too much.
"He has great hands and great knowledge of the game."
While the Irish were winning with pitching and defense, the bats came up with nine hits including three in the first inning when Ursuline gave Angelo a 3-0 lead.
Justin Adams doubled down the left-field line, then Scott Adair singled him in.
After Brad Hochendoner made it 2-0 with a ground out, Steve Stroney singled home the third run.
"Steve's got big hits for us all year," Durkin said of Stroney. "He really has. Whenever he comes up in a clutch situation, he always seems to come through."
Stroney ended 3-for-3 with two RBIs, two stolen bases and a run scored.
Preference: "I was happy when I heard we were going to face a lefty," Stroney said. "I usually hit lefties real well."
In the third inning, Satterlee walked and made it a 4-0 game on a double by Angelo.
The Irish scored twice more in the sixth inning when Stroney and Josh Conkey singled home runs.
Conkey and Adams each had two hits.
Still, it was Angelo's performance that sent Wellington to a 15-8-1 record.
"The kid's a winner," Durkin said. "He just knows how to win."